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Costume Drama
Gone with the Girdle’ exhibit brings history of Atlanta women to life

By Courtney Barnes textiles and social history, and custodian of from the 1970s and a maternity corset. are harder to acquire
more than 10,000 artifacts, Neill’s mission “We all make history, whether or not than couture clothes
Below the Atlanta History Center’s exhibi- two years ago was to share the collection with our names are well known,” said because the former
tion galleries is a fashion archive, with shelf a modern audience in a fresh format. She was Neill. were usually discard-
after shelf storing items ranging from intri- fascinated with the radical evolution of In 1930, 90 percent of ed due to wear and
cately laced 19th-century corsets to Spanx women’s fashion over the last 150 years Atlanta’s employed black tear. Neill also
hosiery created by the successful young 21st –from restrictive corsets and cumbersome women were domestic searched for
century Atlanta entrepreneur, Sara Blakely. hoop skirts to today’s easy yoga pants –and workers. For the exhibit garments
For the past two years Curator Susan Neill therefore conceptualized “Gone with the Neill selected a dark red worn by
has donned archivist’s gloves to examine gar- Girdle” to depict the social and political his- rayon maid’s uniform with a slaves during
ments such as a beaded Jazz Age flapper’s tory of Atlanta women. Along with about 60 crisp white collar, a dress most likely that period of Atlanta’s
dress, a vividly colored Pucci print worn by a ensembles including shoes, jewelry and hand- worn for serving at an employer’s parties. Yet history, but was unable to find
1960s socialite, the first pantsuit designed for bags, Neill is exhibiting historic photographs, also in the exhibition are fashion-forward any for this exhibit.
Delta Airlines flight attendants, and contem- letters and diaries. hats and ensembles worn by many black Another item that was not
porary denim from Earl Jean. In short, cloth- Visitors will see posh selections including women who enjoyed dressing to please them- part of the center’s permanent
ing that defines the era in which it was worn. the embroidered velvet coat Margaret selves when attending Sunday church. collection was a mini skirt half-
The result of Neill’s research is a 3,300- Mitchell wore to the 1939 film premiere of Representing 21st century women in the slip. However, with the help of a
square-foot exhibition, “Gone with the Girdle: Gone with the Wind, and designs from Bill show, Mayor Shirley Franklin, Atlanta’s first local vintage clothing shop owner,
Freedom, Restraint and Power in Women’s Blass and Yves Saint Laurent. But Neill also female black mayor, loaned a garment from Neill was able to purchase this
Dress,” opening Saturday, Nov. 1, and contin- incorporated in the show a Waffle House her closet. artifact for the show. The evolu-
uing through April 18, 2004. waitress’ uniform, a suburban mom’s elabo- According to Neill, vintage items such as tion of undergarments is high-
As the center’s newly arrived curator of rately hand-embroidered hip-hugger jeans the waitress and housekeeper uniforms lighted in the exhibit, along with

A Different Way of Looking at Your Health
A Different Way of Looking at Your Health
A Different Way of Looking at Your Health
A Different Way of Looking at Your Health
A Different Way of Looking at Your Health
A Different Way of Looking at Your Health
A Different Way of Looking at Your Health
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