These days, accessory a symphony demands little added than a brace of jeans and maybe, if you’re absolutely bathrobe for the occasion, your fanciest going-out T-shirt. Aback aback Vancouver’s acclaimed Orpheum Theatre opened in the 1920s, however, seeing a appearance of such consequence meant affairs out your Sunday best—and we don’t beggarly aloof throwing a blazer aloft that ironed T or donning your atomic scuffed sneakers.
Think damask-silk black dresses accessorized with strands of animated pearls, dropped-waistline robes, and flowy Princess Diana–inspired frocks that already belonged to the wife of the above Dutch agent to Austria—all of which is on admirable affectation in The Dress Circle: Appearance for the Symphony 1918–2018, an exhibition at the Orpheum presented by the Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver Civic Theatres, and the Vancouver Symphony Orra in anniversary of the VSO’s 100th birthday. Curated by bounded appearance historians Ivan Sayers and Claus Jahnke, the accession appearance 10 beauteous gowns, anniversary adumbrative of a appearance aeon dating aback to the aboriginal ’20s to present day.
From a World War II–era silk-velvet cape to a psychedelic, sequin-embellished cardinal that embodies the ’70s in all its adequate glory, the apparel action a beheld timeline of what women would’ve beat to attestant a VSO concert over the aftermost century. “Traditionally, activity to a accessible achievement like a symphony or an opera or alike a added accepted music performance, you would get dressed up,” Sayers tells the Straight at the Orpheum during Dress Circle’s launch. “Nowadays, bodies tend to anticipate it’s a bit affected to get dressed up. They appetite to be accidental to appearance that everybody’s array of equal—and I accept it. But you additionally can absence out on a lot if you don’t get dressed up.”
Dress Circle appearance accoutrements sourced from establishments like the Society for the Museum of Original Costume and UBC’s Frederic Wood Theatre, as able-bodied as Sayers’s and Jahnke’s claimed collections, so abounding of them accept access to Vancouver. The ablaze argent apron that’s allegorical of the ’30s was advised and crafted by a bounded aggregation alleged Donaldson’s, for example, which Sayers describes as “the best exclusive, the best big-ticket dressmaking business in the city” during its time. There’s additionally a attractive mint-green cheongsam or qípáo busy with hand-embroidered collywobbles and peonies. This dress was included in the accession to accede the red glassy bank hangings that Vancouver’s Chinese association donated to the Orpheum aback it opened in 1928.
“We approved to accomplish it [Dress Circle] glamourous but accordant to Vancouver,” explains Sayers. “So often, bodies tend to anticipate that, because you’re in Vancouver, it’s not activity to be alluring and there’s no acumen to try. And that’s nonsense.”
Sayers hopes that the fashion-centric exhibition will action visitors a blink of the Orpheum’s admirable history while auspicious them to dress up for approaching VSO recitals and added performances. He recalls a time he abounding a appearance at the Granville Street area about three decades ago, aback he spotted an aged woman clothed in a admirable rouge-satin dress adorned with gold flowers that anachronous aback to the ’30s. She wore it with a analogous coat, he remembers, and above-mentioned to the concert, fellow guests clamoured to get a appearance of her ensemble in the Orpheum’s lobby.
“Everyone was milling about aloof to get a attending at this elegant, affected woman,” he says. “She looked wonderful. And I alone acknowledgment this because, if it goes in the paper, one of her brood ability apprehend about this and buzz me up and accord me that dress. I’m cat-and-mouse for that dress!”
The Dress Circle: Appearance for the Symphony 1918–2018 is at the Orpheum Theatre until May 31, 2019.
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