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Chic Chicago: Couture Treasures from the Chicago History Museum features the most stunning pieces from one of the greatest costume collections in the world. From its earliest days, Chicago was viewed as a grimy upstart consumed by business and the almighty dollar. Nicknames such as hog butcher to the world, gangland, and second city persist even today. In response to this perception, a small number of wealthy women purchased and wore high fashion in the hope of claiming Chicago as chic; fashion, they believed, was a powerful way to overcome this prejudice and to re-imagine Chicago as a place of beauty, sophistication, and elegance. The Chicago History Museum, one of the city s earliest cultural institutions, now houses many of these chic creations from designers such as Worth, Poiret, Dior, Halston, Miyake, and Versace. This volume showcases the designs and the designers, as well as the women who wore them and helped make Chicago chic.
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Timothy Long is Curator of Costumes at the Chicago History Museum. He works closely with the public to acquire new objects for the collection, provides tours of the costume collection and exhibitions, and lectures on fashion and Museum exhibitions. Most recently, Long was the curator for Chicago @ 40: The Band and its City in 2007, Dior: The New Look in 2006, and co-curated Chic Chicago: Couture Treasures from the Chicago History Museum at the Museum at FIT in NYC in 2007. Long has also contributed to the following Chicago History Museum exhibitions: Coming of Age, January 2003 January 2004; Flamenco: Latin Dance in Chicago, September 2003 February 2004; On the Fringe: Indian Shawls in Chicago, December 2001 July 2003; Fashion, Flappers n All That Jazz, November 2001 December 2002; Raymond Hudd: Hats over the Edge , December 2000 October 2001; and Head over Heels: Hats and Shoes Manufactured in Chicago 1900-1950, March November 2000. During his career at the Museum, Long has presented the following lectures: Developing the U.S.A. through Fur Trade, June 2008, The Golden Age of Couture, March 2008, The Gilded Cage, June 2007, Mannequin Madness: Behind the Scenes of a Costume Exhibition, December 2006, WWII and the Rise of Christian Dior, October 2005, The Gibson Girl and the Birth of the Modern Woman, November 2004, The Roaring Twenties, September and November 2002; Corsets to Suffrage: The Unbinding of the Western Woman, May 2000, and The 19th Century Birth of the Fashion World, January 1999. Long has been interviewed and consulted on many projects including television programming such as: Chicago Tonight, WTTW, News Around Town with Joannie Lum, WGN-TV, and At the Auction with Leslie Hindman, HGTV January 2001. In addition to his duties at the Museum, Long is an Adjunct Professor at the International Academy of Design and Technology and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and returning Guest Lecturer at the University of Chicago. Valerie Steele (Ph.D., Yale University) is Director and Chief Curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). She has curated more than 20 exhibitions in the past ten years, including Love & War: The Weaponized Woman; The Corset: Fashioning the Body; London Fashion (which won the first Richard Martin Award for best costume exhibition from The Costume Society of America); Femme Fatale: Fashion in Fin-de-SiÃ¨cle Paris; China Chic: East Meets West; and Form Follows Fashion.Editor-in-chief of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture (Berg Publishers), which she founded in 1997, Dr. Steele is also the author of numerous books, including The Black Dress (Harper Collins, 2007), Ralph Rucci (Yale University Press, 2006); The Corset: A Cultural History (Yale University Press, 2001); Paris Fashion (Oxford University, 1988; revised edition, Berg Publishers, 1999); Fifty Years of Fashion: New Look to Now (Yale University Press, 1997; Paris; Adam Biro, 1998); Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power (Oxford University Press, 1996); and Women of Fashion: 20th-Century Designers (Rizzoli, 1991). She was editor-in-chief of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (Scribners, 2005.)Her latest book and publication are both titled Gothic: Dark Glamour (Yale University Press in conjunction with FIT, 2008). Dr. Steele lectures frequently and has appeared on many television programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show and Undressed: The Story of Fashion. After she appeared on the PBS special, The Way We Wear, she was described in The Washington Post as one of fashion s brainiest women. Often quoted in media, she was herself the subject of a profile in Forbes (1992): Fashion Professor, and in The New York Times (1999): High-Heeled Historian.
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