The Newport Historical Society is pleased to partner with the Audrain Automobile Museum to offer a joint exhibit focusing on the evolution of fashion from the height of the Gilded Age to the beginning of the modern era. The exhibit will be featured at the Newport Historical Society at 82 Touro Street, and the Audrain Museum at 222 Bellevue Avenue beginning May 29th.
In this multi-site exhibit, curator Rebecca Kelly, in collaboration with the Audrain team at that site, examines a previously unknown collection of clothing and accessories belonging to three Vanderbilt women of New York and Newport: Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt and her daughters Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Gladys Moore Vanderbilt Széchényi.
The exhibit focuses on the lives of the women in a changing world, as expressed through their choices for shopping and fashion. It also brings to light less obvious stories: American consumerism during the first world war, and the evolution of the industry as women began to enter the workforce and embrace social independence, including the mobility that driving provided.
The exhibit also focuses on the interlocking trades, and avenues for creativity that supplied American women with the opportunity to be fashionable. Designers, dressers, fabric and lace makers and entrepreneurs contributed to what was, and in many ways still is, an elaborate economic web. Women played a role here, at all walks of life, both as producers and consumers.
The first segment of the exhibit, The World in Motion: Vanderbilt Style, is at the NHS. Here, the focus is on Alice Vanderbilt and her daughters.
In Women Take the Wheel: Fashion, Modernity, and the Automobile at the Audrain, curator David de Muzio and the Audrain team enhance the story of early 20th century shopping at local, Newport retailers with early automobiles with Newport history. Here, the story includes women driving and being driven, and the effect automobiles had on women’s fashion.
The twelve automobiles on view will include a 1904 Mercedes 30 hp, Elizabeth Cunningham’s 1910 Rauch & Lang electric, Doris Duke’s 1938 Packard Twelve Landaulet, and Countess Széchényi’s 1941 Cadillac Series 67 Fleetwood limousine.
Please visit The World in Motion, Fashion and Modernity 1885-1945 in the Alletta Morris Gallery and the Leatherman Program Space at NHS’s Resource Center at 82 Touro Street, and in the gallery at our partner institution, the Audrain Automobile Museum, 222 Bellevue Avenue, opening the end of May.
The exhibit was made possible by support from:
& The Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust