Amidst the extreme hardship, rationing and deprivation in Britain during World War II, designers created fashions in order to save on essential wartime materials, thus injecting a patriotic sense of style and beauty into the harsh realities of wartime life. Textiles were created as a way to literally wear one’s patriotism on one’s sleeve, encouraging all to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
Subjected to relentless bombing in a terror campaign known as the Blitz, fashion (though conforming to strict government regulations) was used as a weapon for maintaining morale in challenging and austere times.
Keep Calm and Carry On is filled with actual wartime fashion and textiles from Britain and investigates the tensions between the restrictions placed on dress and the creative ways in which designers and everyday women worked within these constraints in the pursuit of beauty.
“The way the British creative class came together to unify the nation shows incredible resilience. As the pain of war continues through today, the quintessential British slogan ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ still serves as a reassurance for modern times,” said Rick Hirschhaut, Executive Director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum.
With its vibrant display of period clothing, cleverly designed scarves, home décor, film footage and lively music of the era, Keep Calm and Carry On offers a rare glimpse into this period when beauty (in measured amounts) was not frivolous, but a patriotic duty!
The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center’s featured program in conjunction with this exhibition will be held on Sunday, September 29th , 2013. Entitled Broadcasts from the Blitz: How Edward R. Murrow Led America in War, the program will feature Greg Burns, Chicago Tribune and Philip Seib, University of Southern California. Burns and Seib will discuss Seib’s book, Broadcast from the Blitz and Edward R. Murrow’s role in establishing news radio as an effective tool for sharing information and the political propaganda of the time.
This exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with the support of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf. The Golder Family Foundation is lead sponsor for all Illinois Holocaust Museum special exhibitions. Additional local support provided by Rotarians for Peace, in honor of Rotarian Sir Nicholas Winton. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
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