Monday, February 25, 2013

Meet Our Historic Fashion Consultant

by Abigail Cucolo

Hello, all! My name is Abigail Cucolo and I am the new consultant here at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, working with the lovely Barb Cerny and the museum's vintage fashion collection.

Have I mentioned how excited I am? Because I am. SO EXCITED! Excited to be in Alaska (first time!), excited to be surrounded by wonderful fashions and cars through the decades and centuries, and excited to get my hands on a thesaurus at some point, because I really need to start using synonyms for “excited”…
Abigail did the illustrations shown
here as part of her graduate work.
I adore historic costume, an interest probably sparked by a love of period drama (which can be detrimental to your health- I think Downton Abbey is trying to make us all severely depressed) and Jane Austen (we should petition to bring back the cravat. Am I right, ladies!? Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, swoon!).  This originally led to my pursuance of a BFA in Fashion (minor: Art History) at the Savannah College of Art and Design. While getting a superbly well rounded fashion education at that institution, one of my required classes was History of Fashion (rightly so). This is where I discovered the complete and utter magnificence that is the semiotics of clothing. Any lover of period drama going into the class would be enthusiastic. The romanticism attached to corsets and petticoats and layer upon layer of silk makes us dream of another place, another time, when chivalry and honor ruled the mores of the day. But what you learn when studying the evolution of the silhouette is that clothing is much more than aesthetics- it communicates and represents so much about the wearer’s identity: geography, politics, social class and values- and just how uncomfortable and physically detrimental some of those romantic corsets and petticoats were. 

With a newfound enthusiasm for the symbolism of clothing, I went to the Arts University of Bournemouth to obtain my MA in Costume. A wonderfully independent course (really helps you work on your self-discipline!), I chose to focus my studies on a sociological approach to women’s historic costume; specifically, the costume of the New Woman at the turn of the 20th century. A wonderfully tumultuous and progressive period for women’s rising independence, the shifting attitudes and increased activity witnessed during that time were well represented through the fast evolution of women’s clothing.

Because of my interest in the historical aspects of clothing, I started volunteering and interning in museums (shout out to Shippensburg University’s Fashion Archives and the US Army Heritage and Education Center!). When back in the States, I began an internship at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (a once in a lifetime experience), where during a project I met the curator from the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum. I discovered that she was preparing an exhibit of a topic very close to my heart: the American New Woman. Alden O’Brien (the curator) was kind enough--especially after my embarrassing verbal explosion on how much I loved this period of costume--to take me on as an intern assisting with the installation of this fabulous exhibit Fashioning a New Woman (highly recommended!!! I swear I am not being partial. The displays are numerous, enlightening, and beautifully engaging). It was while working on this exhibit that I was introduced to garment gurus Colleen Callahan and Newbie Richardson. Experts on silhouette, display, and preservation of historic costume, they work with  museums and the like to create exhibits that are the most involved to present, but most popular to put on: costume exhibits, of course. These genius ladies helped did a workshop here at the Fountainhead Museum a few years ago, and when Barb mentioned needing help, Colleen (the brilliant woman!) suggested me!

And so here I am, readers, fashion and car enthusiasts alike! So happy to be helping Barb and Tim with their beautiful collection! So happy to bring you all more glimpses of that beautiful collection! And so excited…no, thrilled! to be witnessing a proper winter!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Abigail! And good luck in your new position.
    Charlie Haffey


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