Zandra Rhodes, Cinderella and the Goldstein Museum of Design
Editor's Note: This is an exhibit from the Goldstein Museum of Design at the University of Minnesota. After the trauma and drama of the 2016 election, we felt a look back at a display like this one is a cathartic look into the fashion dimension.
Zandra Rhodes' dresses on display in the GMD exhibition Fiber Into Fantasy (1999), curated by Marilyn DeLong
by Natasha Thoreson
In 1991, Zandra Rhodes was commissioned to create the Chicago Marshall Field's flagship store holiday extravaganza display. The year's theme was Cinderella, so the London-based designer crafted 12 larger-than-life sparkling ball gowns that were then mounted on custom-made gold mannequins to tell the famous rags-to-riches story. After the holidays, the dresses eventually made their way — via Marshall Field's, Dayton's, and Target — to the Goldstein Museum of Design.
Rhodes' dresses on display in the GMD exhibition Fiber Into Fantasy (1999), curated by Marilyn DeLong
Twenty-three years later, the unique dresses were introduced to me and four of my classmates in Dr. Marilyn DeLong's Material Culture and Design course. For the next year, Dr. DeLong, Mary Alice Casto, Seoha Min, Harini Ramaswamy, Meghan McKinney, and I worked together to research the dresses and the department store holiday display phenomenon. Our work will be published in an upcoming issue of Fashion, Style & Popular Culture. Here are some of the group's reflections on the process of working on this project at the Goldstein.
Dr. DeLong: I first encountered the Zandra Rhodes dresses when they were donated to the GMD. They were fantasy dresses with historic references — not the usual donation. They offered insight into the theater involved in department store displays with their exuberant materials, frills, and glitter.
Mary Alice: Upon first seeing the dresses, they seemed quite costume-like though hard to determine where such a costume might be worn, they were so over the top.... the detail work for the painted designs on the fabric I always thought was spectacular.
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