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'Polyester: American Fashions of the 1960s and 1970s' opens

Jun '08
Fashion in the 1960s & 1970s broke many traditions, mirroring several social movements and creating stylistic extremes not seen in the previous decades.

The period saw the popularization of style and design, such as bikinis, mini-skirts, bell-bottomed jeans, tie-dye shirts, broad ties, and platform shoes. Fashion icons included the likes of Twiggy, Jacqueline Kennedy, and The Beatles.

Underlying and driving much of the stylistic change, was the new technology of synthetic materials. "Synthetics" made it possible for designers to quickly and inexpensively produce their products; and as a result, consumers enjoyed textile durability, and fashion variety and accessibility like never before.

Many of us not only remember it, but have lived it! To the thirty and under crowd it's "Retro," and some of the fashion doesn't look all that different from today's trendy clothing.

"Polyester: American Fashions of the 1960s and 1970s," opened in the Holland Museum Wichers Gallery on April 26 and runs through August 24, 2008.

"Word about this exhibit got around & people suddenly donated their virtually indestructible, nearly forgotten clothing from the back of the closet," says exhibit curator, Nathan Kemler. "It should be a fun exhibit for both young and old." -

The exhibit features fashions and artifacts in the context of cultural history. In addition to the 60s and 70s clothing - worn and donated by area residents - there is an introductory section with a dressed mannequin each from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s, representing the styles & fabrics leading up to the sixties and seventies. A section of haute couture designer outfits that are not made of polyester but silk, linen, wool acts as a contrast to the mass-produced, affordable synthetic fabric fashions.

All mannequins are fully accessorized with shoes, hats, scarves, jewelry, belts or handbags. - Supplementary artifacts representing the cultural and political setting, include news magazines, news clippings, record albums, plastic toys (such as a Slinky), plastic dishes and television set and more.

On June 28, the exhibit will be brought to life as a full-fledged "Retro" Fashion Show, POLYESTER LIVE, with "period-appropriate" refreshments, music and dancing. It will be held at the Holland Armory behind the museum.

The Holland Museum

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