Homewood museum shows historic fashion

September 17, 2015



For The News-Letter

While setting up a presentation inside the historic Homewood Museum, Beauty Editor Lisa Simeone of Baltimore Style Magazine and Chief Curator Alexandra Deutsch of the Maryland Historical Society discussed how to dress for the upcoming Harvest Ball. This ball, and the Fall Frolic that accompanies it, remains an iconic event that takes place every other year on the Homewood Campus in mid-October.

According to the museum’s event description, the Harvest Ball will be held on Oct. 10 this year and feature a sit-down dinner that aims to recreate the entertaining atmosphere of the Carroll family’s early 1800s country house. Afterward, the Fall Frolic boasts a night of dancing and celebration.

“Homewood Museum invites you to revel in an unforgettable evening of frivolous pleasure,” an invitation on the museum’s website says.

Given its historical theme, knowing how to dress for the Harvest Ball requires an understanding of the complex transformations that were taking place in fashion in the 1800s. Now in possession of an impressive collection of wardrobe pieces from prominent figures of this time, the Maryland Historical Society has positioned itself as an important resource in order to understand the style and society of this time period.

Deutsch framed the context of this era in relation to what was going on in history.

“Following the American revolution, we saw a revolution in fashion,” she said, referring especially to the dramatic change of women’s clothing.

She continued to elaborate on this shift by showing the transition from the structured bodice, seen only until the end of the 18th century, to the looser-fitting garment which became acceptable women’s wear in the 19th century.

Deutsch continued to demonstrate how a new female silhouette emerged within the 19th century and ultimately served to influence our modern era. In setting the historical context of this event the audience clearly had a better grasp over the specific era that the ball aims to recreate.

Baltimore Style magazine editor Simeone continued the discussion from understanding a historical era to replicating this fashion in the modern era. Simeone matched current clothing stores and designers with the clothing evolution that was underway in 18th and 19th centuries.

Surprisingly there were many elements of this time that can be achieved using modern-day clothing sources such as Modcloth or Etsy online. In being able to draw and pair pieces from these more common sources, Simeone ensured the audience that they would be able to create outfits for themselves without breaking the bank. As a result Simeone opened the event, including the Fall Frolic, to a wider audience.

The entire presentation was carefully laced with humor and well-received by the diverse audience. Audience members were regaled by the description a “Fifty Shades of Grey-styled crop” that men sported in their hands like a cane and enjoyed the humorous description of the shredding of modesty that characterized the time.

Despite the wide age group that comprised the audience, Deutsch and Simeone were able to both entertain and provide necessary information for the ball. In mid-October, guests will arrive at the Homewood Museum for a night set in the 1800s sporting impressive garments and highlighting the important shift in fashion trends that occurred at the time.

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