Witness The Blend Of Antiquity With Modernity At The New Historical Costume Museum In Poznan, Poland!

After more than a decade of holding a status of merely a private collection of antique 19th century clothing and previously known as XIX Gallery, the Museum of Historical Costume now holds an eminent name in its own right. Displayed in multiple museums in Poland, this unique collection and the events associated with them were well attended and hugely appreciated-evident through a big turnout, which has encouraged us to continue with our efforts in the fashion and clothing arena.

Exhibiting one’s own cultural values and tastes infront of the world comes with a sense of pride and achievement. This is indeed a motivation behind this idea of showing the distinctive features of the Puznan’s historical dresses publicly, since Poland is deprived of keeping its cultural richness intact due to its turbulent and dramatic past which unfortunately resulted in loss of the records of antique and traditional clothing. The women fashion history of other parts of Europe can be traced easily to many centuries back with loaded and explicit details whereas the historical dresses of Poland has little to no special mentions in the history. However, it is more or less the same in appearance as the western world when it comes to reflecting on the styles of the upper and middle class except being different in the national or the folk dresses which are unique for each region of the European world. Our mission is thus not limited to gathering and preservation of antique clothing but sharing our heritage and collection with the world is the main aim on which this foundation of XIX Gallery, now transformed to The Museum of Historical Costume, is laid.

The whole history of clothing, as complex and captivating phenomenon it is, requires an elaborate description. The clothing fulfils not only a utility function protecting a person from external factors, but it is above all a tool serving to satisfy numerous human needs, such as the desire for beauty in accordance with the current canon, emphasises sexual attraction, and informs about belonging to a specific social group. The notion of fashion is also often used interchangeably with the history of clothing, although both terms differ slightly in meaning and are not synonymous exactly. Fashion is a phenomenon associated with many factors, its shape is influenced by current events, including political, scientific or economic events. The story examines the history of the dress, not only in terms of aesthetics, but above all in a broader perspective including elements seemingly unrelated to fashion. Fashion can be described in various ways, however no statement will do absolute justice and would not be enough to bring into limelight each and every aspect of it thoroughly. It is impossible to overestimate its value and the role it has played and continues to tear. The influence that fashion holds on the society is belittled by most of us, and yet fashion is an art that shapes us and is a part of our vast experience in our everyday lives.

With the mention of the nineteenth century, the canvas of our mind paints the picture of scientific, industrial and technological advancement and progress. It is nevertheless interesting to note that those turbulent changes were not only and exclusively reflected at this side. The nineteenth century also deserves special attention for its marked progress and being advanced when it comes to Arts, Fashion and History, as during this century fashion gained momentum and changed much more dynamically than in previous centuries. The Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque were rediscovered, numerous archaeological excavations were carried out and the fascination with past centuries found its reflection in the applied art. Historical styles appeared in architecture, in interior design, in the style of jewellery, as well as fashions and decorations of women’s dresses. In this way, a blend of technology, history, arts and fashion has made the appearance of the most unique styles possible and the use of new technical possibilities in tailoring and patterns drawn from ancient times has resulted in a very interesting and dynamic image of the Straits fashion in the 19th century.

The most notorious centre of fashion dating back to 19th century were Paris, London and Vienna. Almost in every ladies magazine were embroidery patterns for household linens, children clothing and underwear. Many women basing on this printed supports created custom embroidered works of art, which in many cases we can admire to this day and so the printing and reprinting of the latest and intriguing fashion style in ladies magazine along with the availability of various sewing patterns enabled these women to make fashionable dresses, children garments and other items all by themselves.

Women, governesses, wives of trademen were expected to respect fashionably yet respectably. This was also followed by their anxiety to avoid any appearance of poverty to maintain the impression of belonging to a good social class. The outfits were not really showy, heavily embroidered or gaudy but they had to be fitter, classy and flatter to reflect the social position which they currently held or which they wished to aspire to. Interestingly, at the same time the women were supposed to appear as not really caring about or being over shadowed by what they wore- a difficult balancing act indeed, only to maintain decorum and avoid shallowness.

Nineteenth-century fashion as we have seen through the aforementioned ideas, is circling; ending and starting with a style that refers to ancient patterns. Just like history, it repeats itself in a cyclical manner coming back to the origin where it all began from, thus completing its circle. The first one drawing inspiration from the originals and the second referring rather to its predecessor than to antiquity. In the remaining periods of reference to the Gothic, Romanesque or Renaissance art, they are very clear and have significantly influenced the formation of the style of a given decade.

However, the appeal was not limited solely to the ancient and distant times. The evolution of fashion also took place in smaller, only decades-old intervals, as in the costumes from the 1930s and the 1890s.

The costumes presented at the exhibition allow you to look at how women’s fashion has changed and transformed for the better over the course of the century. From seemingly simple antiques from the beginning of the century to heavy, richly embroidered belle epoque dresses, an absolute rich women’s fashion history mingled with the history of the various dresses and costumes will unfold infront of your eyes, engaging you to its very core, leaving an impression of pure joy and reverence for the Polish culture and women’s fashion.

The museum is supported by Mundi Plumarii Foundation – manufacturer of custom embroidery and embroidered patches for non-profit and non-goverment organisations.

Victoria Brewood
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Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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