Monday, July 6, 2015


Gilded Cuffs on a Callot Soeurs dress, part of Golden Glamour: The Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt Gerry Collection on show at RISD Museum

Gold remains a leading indicator of wealth, despite decades of sartorial, technological and political revolution. Whether stacks of bullion, metallic molars or golden eggs, gilded goods announce the presence of prosperity. This weekend, Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt Gerry's golden gloves and gilded gowns warranted a pit stop. A sucker for fashion exhibits, I convinced my honey to pause at the Rhode Island School of Design's RISD Museum en route to Cape Cod to check out Golden Glamour. Keep reading for a look inside...

 Charles James silk dress (1962) made for socialite Aimée de Heeren

With six floors of exhibit space and an interactive textile library, the RISD Museum surprises me with NYC museum caliber installations. Walking through the Modern and Contemporary gallery, it's interesting to see clothing designers paired alongside furniture and art (by architects and industrial designers). The tightly curated selection of artifacts is a testament to the creativity that continues shaping "fine art," globally.

Richard Artschwager Chair/Table and Exclamation Point statue (both 1980); Geoffrey Beene polka-dot day dress (c. late 1960s)

The glitz and glamour of Edith Stuyvesant's 20s and 30s gold-kissed garments give a glimpse into opulent fashion of her day. In the sixth floor gallery, eight items from the Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt Gerry collection represent the garb of the exclusive elite, where wool and cotton threads were hand-wrapped with gold to garnish garments. Lamé, silk and velvet are the textiles of choice and the hints of gold glimmer add a festive brightness. 

 Leading Wall for the Golden Glamour exhibit

Tall (6'2") and beautiful, Edith Stuyvesant grew up in Newport, surrounded by wealth. In her 20s, Edith moved to Paris and married George Vanderbilt, who at the time was America's most eligible bachelor. When Vanderbilt passed, Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt returned to Rhode Island and found favor with Senator Peter Gerry. The brief collection on display is a sampling of the garments owned and worn by Edith during her European years and a few American pieces, when she was Parisian luxuries became less affordable.

 Gilded Glamour exhibit space

(L) Paul Poiret Evening Coat (1922); (M) Paul Poiret Dress w/ Attached Wrap (1925); (R) Bergdorfs Robe (1929) [photos: RISD Museum]

 (L)  Elsa Schiaparelli Gloves (1933-1937); (R) Molyneux Jacket (1919-1950)

 Another room in the museum--What a cool portrait gallery! Wish I had a room like this in my place!

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