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Royal Ontario Museum unveils collection of 50,000 costumes
25
Sep '12
On Saturday, November 3, 2012, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) unveils BIG, the newest installation in the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume on Level 4 in the Museum’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal.

A stunning display, BIG is exclusively drawn from the ROM’s collection of nearly 50,000 textiles and costumes. Showcasing 40 artifacts from around the world, this unique exhibition includes objects assuming their BIG status in a myriad of ways. With some objects publicly displayed for the first time, the installation offers a fresh, new way of exploring the ROM’s renowned collections. BIG continues until Fall 2013.

“This installation highlights objects that, in one way or another, are BIG,” states Dr. Alexandra Palmer, Nora E. Vaughan Fashion Costume Curator in the ROM’s World Cultures department. She continues, “BIG is not just about size. Even the smallest textile can have BIG personal, social, and cultural value that shifts according to context. BIG brilliantly looks at the meaning of textiles and fashions from around the globe and across time. We look forward to illustrating for our visitors that less can most definitely be more.”

Anu Liivandi, Assistant Curator of Textiles & Costume and Dr. Sarah Fee, Associate Curator of Eastern Hemisphere Textiles & Costume, are the other members of the exhibition’s curatorial team.

A recent acquisition, and now a highlight of the Museum’s permanent collection and this exhibition, Passage #5 was designed by John Galliano for Christian Dior Couture. Specially commissioned by the ROM and made possible by the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust, this dramatic coat-dress was inspired by fashion illustrator René Gruau’s drawings of the 1940s and 1950s and is a 21st century reworking of Dior’s 1947 New Look.

Passage #5 was a highlight of Dior’s Spring 2011 collection. A short documentary, generously funded by the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust and the ROM’s Textiles Endowment Fund and produced by Dior, complements the display. It details the intricacies involved in creating this remarkable garment, including the 500+ hours by a Dior team. The ROM is the sole international museum to commission such a unique document of the construction of an haute couture design.

Other exhibition highlights representing the breadth of the ROM’s international collections include a Pre-Columbian Peruvian feather cape dated to 1000 -1476 AD; an Indonesian bark cloth wrapper; and spectacular textiles created for Exposition Internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes - the BIG Art Deco exhibition held in Paris, 1925.

Textiles from Albania, Canada, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Italy, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, United Kingdom, and USA, vibrantly demonstrate the exhibition’s BIG global scope. In addition to Galliano for Dior, contemporary fashions by leading designers Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Tam, and Tom Ford for Yves St Laurent are among the other BIG names on display.

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