Seventy years of fashion are represented in the upcoming exhibition “Nebraska: State of Fashion I” at the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery, on the second floor of the Home Economics building on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus.
From the closets of former Nebraska Gov. Kay Orr, Avery Woods and the late Lincoln dressmaker Ilona Berk come vibrant examples of fashion worn in Nebraska between 1920 and 1990. The exhibition, which opens Feb. 15 and runs through April 1, tells the story of the connoisseurship and skill that went into the creation of women’s dress in the mid- to late-20th century.
Many of the garments demonstrate the art of dressmaking in Nebraska while others are prime examples of key fashion trends in the United States at that time. The work of notable fashion designers, both American and European, are included in the exhibition as well as select designs by Nebraska’s Mary Anne Vaccaro. Garments by American designers Patrick Kelly, Michaele Vollbracht, Norman Norell, James Galanos and Hattie Carnegie are featured. Zandra Rhodes, Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, David Tribouillard and Emilio Pucci are among the European designers represented in the exhibition. All of the garments in the show are part of the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design’s Historic Costume Collection.
Featured in the exhibition are garments Orr wore to state and national events while she served as the state’s 36th governor, from 1987 to 1991. During that time, much of her wardrobe was designed and made by Omaha dressmaker Vaccaro, who was known for producing garments of fine fabrics with a classic minimalism and meticulous fit.
Berk (1918-2013) was a prominent Lincoln designer who became an influential player in fashion for those who sought distinctive design and custom fit. She was a Czechoslovakian native and a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the United States in 1948. Her collection of garments includes not only her custom-made designs, but European fashion from the last half of the 20th century, hand-picked on her visits to Europe’s fashion capitols.
Avery Woods offers three generations of impeccable fashion worn by her and members of the Woods family. Fashion worn for business, international travel and community fundraising events and celebrations, including Nebraska’s Ak-Sar-Ben Ball, are included in the exhibition.
Events scheduled to coincide with the exhibition include a reception and gallery talk hosted by the Friends of the Hillestad Textiles Gallery from 5:30 to 8 p.m. March 4. A gallery talk featuring Berk’s story is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 25. A public lecture by Barbara Trout and co-curator Kylin Jensen titled “Design that Lasts” is set for noon Feb. 26 in room 31 in the Home Economics building.
The Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery is part of the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences at UNL. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment. Admission is free. Guest parking is available near the building and metered stalls are located in the East Union lot. For more information, call 402-472-2911 or click here.