Arts & Culture News

The Meadows Museum's New Exhibition Is a Treasure for Fashion History Buffs

Carrie Bradshaw would approve of these shoes on display at Meadows Museum in Dallas.
Carrie Bradshaw would approve of these shoes on display at Meadows Museum in Dallas. David Serrano Pascual
Fashion aficionados and history buffs will have the opportunity to explore the grandeur of Spanish couture straight from Madrid this fall.

Spain's Museo del Traje, Centro de Investigación del Patrimonio Etnológico is making history with their first American collaboration. Opening Sept. 19, Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Museum (5900 Bishop Blvd.) will present the Canvas & Silk: Historic Fashion from Madrid’s Museo del Traje exhibition, which will run until Jan. 9, 2022.

Amanda W. Dotseth, Meadows Museum curator, said the idea began as a conversation over lunch with a friend from Museo del Traje in 2019. Over the last two years, Dotseth has worked with Museo del Traje to bring the threads to American soil.

The exhibition, curated by Dotseth with Elvira Gonzalez of the Museo del Traje, will weave four centuries of Spanish history through pairings of images and artifacts that will bring history into a tangible form for museum-goers.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to gain further insight into the Meadow’s collection of Spanish art through its exhibition with loans from Spain's premier collection of historic dress,” Dotseth said in a press release. “We are as never before able to explore the complex relationships between representation and reality, or between image and artifact.”

This prestigious, first-of-its-kind experience will guide attendees through Spanish dress trends and provide insight into Spanish society with three premier themes. Precious metals and jewels will radiate in the “Precious Things” section. Jewelry, combs and accessories from overseas will present the culture at its finest.
click to enlarge One of the pieces from Spain's Museo del Traje, which collaborated with SMU for a fashion exhibition. - JESÚS MADRIÑÁN
One of the pieces from Spain's Museo del Traje, which collaborated with SMU for a fashion exhibition.
Jesús Madriñán
“Traditional dress” will spotlight the details of economic development through manton de Manila, a silk shawl that served as a trade commodity. Most notably is the traje de luces, on display in this portion of the exhibition. The suit worn by bullfighters has been a staple of Spanish clothing. Many immediately envision a fearless bullfighter in an intricately detailed suit when they think of Spain and now — perhaps for the first time ever — many Texans will be able to see the iconic suit in its detailed craftsmanship in person.

The final theme, “Stepping Out,” will showcase how couture was a means to prestige in Spanish culture, taking visitors back in time to experience what "dress to impress" meant throughout Spanish society.

The Meadows Museum is no stranger to Spanish moda. Past exhibitions include the work of Balenciaga in 2007 during the Balenciaga and His Legacy: Haute Couture from Texas Fashion Collection exhibition. The museum has served as a leader in Spanish art since 1965 with an impressive collection of art that spans over 10 centuries of history.  Its global notoriety earned them the honor of hosting this unprecedented collaboration.

Fashioncentric patrons can further satisfy their passions for history by also visiting the Meadow’s coinciding exhibition Image & Identity: Mexican Fashion in the Modern Period, which will be on display in the first-floor galleries. This exhibition will explore the transition of Mexican fashion through a collection of photographs, prints, books and paintings from the Meadows Museum and SMU’s Degolyer Library to highlight nationalism through fashion and the revitalization of historic dress in current trends.
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Desiree Gutierrez is a music and culture intern at the Dallas Observer. Equipped with her education from Dallas College Brookhaven Campus and the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism, Desiree has transformed the ability to overthink just about anything into a budding career in journalism.