Atlanta, GA – The elegant Swan House at Atlanta History Center provides a unique backdrop for Fashion in Good Taste: Women in Atlanta, 1920-1969, an exhibition opening April 7, 2016, that showcases examples from the History Center’s extensive textile collection.
Each main room of the 1928 mansion designed by acclaimed Atlanta architect Philip Shutze will present examples of the defining clothing of a particular decade. Spanning the 1920s through the 1960s, Fashion in Good Taste will explore Atlanta’s past through fashion for each of the decades that Swan House was occupied by the Inman family.
On view through Oct. 10, 2016, the exhibition comprises 28 examples of women’s and men’s clothing, including two women’s hats. Six of the pieces were designed or created by Georgia women. They include Atlanta designers Clyde Ingram, Thelma Swafford and Ann Moore; Atlanta milliners Loretta Bonta and Lillian B. Head; and North Georgia weaver Mary Crovatt Hambidge.
Fashion in Good Taste includes three pieces by Ann Moore. In the decade before the Civil Rights movement launched, the Spelman College graduate (class of 1943) departed Atlanta for Detroit, optimistic about the opportunities that a city without strict segregation laws could offer. During a distinguished career, Moore established her own fashion house in the Motor City, Ann Moore Couturiere. Jet and Vogue featured designs from her collections. Moore now makes her home in Atlanta, and the Atlanta History Center serves as the largest repository of her work, including 28 outfits and accessories in its permanent collection.
“Each decade represented in this exhibition features a female designer,” noted Jessica Rast VanLanduyt, curator of Fashion in Good Taste and Atlanta History Center Historic House Manager. “These designers are diverse and remarkable women who not only made their mark on fashion, but broke through racial and gender barriers as entrepreneurs or trailblazers.”
Completed in 1928, Swan House was the residence of the Edward and Emily Inman family for five decades, where the family experienced major events including the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights movement. During these years, the city of Atlanta grew from the Gate City of the South into a major American metropolis.
Select examples of key items from each decade covered by Fashion in Good Taste, presented through the generous support of Emily Bourne Grigsby, include:
Art deco evening gown
Silk georgette evening dress in black with silver-lined glass beads
Worn by C. Mildred Thompson, Dean, Vassar College, 1923-1946. Thompson was an acclaimed historian, feminist, scholar, and a founder of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Tribal print dress
Silk halter top and matching skirt
Thoroughly fashionable Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell Marsh wore this dress in 1938. Following her death in 1949, Marsh’s husband, John, gave this outfit to Margaret’s friend, Susan Myrick, who had served as the technical advisor for the GWTW film adaption.
Black wool gabardine
Hollywood designers such as Adrian had a great impact on American style. His success in creating a look for Joan Crawford and other leading ladies allowed him to establish his own fashion house. His designs ultimately were picked up by department stores, including this piece purchased at Rich’s Specialty Shop and worn by Allie Dean Mann.
Dress with coat
Dress of blue cotton voile with coat of white cotton pique
This ensemble was designed by Ann Moore, who wore it to Spelman College’s 75th anniversary celebration, where she was honored as a distinguished alumna for her contributions to the fashion field. Moore called this piece, completed in the school’s colors, “Miss Spelman,”
Aqua toque in the shape of a rosette with extensions forming petals
Designed by Lillian Brown Head for Atlanta’s J.P. Allen Department Store, this hat was worn by Mrs. Gladstone Lewis Chandler. In addition to her work for department stores and clients, Head designed hats for special occasions. For the opening of Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta in 1967, she created a blue- domed hat styled after the hotel-topping Polaris restaurant. The hat is in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Founded in 1926, the Atlanta History Center is an all-inclusive, 33-acre destination featuring the Atlanta History Museum, one of the nation’s largest history museums; historic houses including the 1928 Swan House and the 1860 Smith Family Farm; the Centennial Olympic Games Museum; the Kenan Research Center; the Grand Overlook event space; Goizuetta Gardens, featuring 22 acres of gardens, walkways, paths and trails; and the newly opened museum, bookstore and Souper Jenny café. In addition, the History Center operates the Margaret Mitchell House located in Midtown Atlanta. For information on Atlanta History Center offerings, hours of operation and admission call 404.814.4000 or visit AtlantaHistoryCenter.com.