Historic Photos

How much influence can a historic event have on popular clothing design?

March 26th, 2014

Depending upon the event, it could be huge. The dress pictured here was designed in the 1920s and was most definitely influenced by an archaeological event.The geometric beaded pattern was influenced by Egyptian design, but what was the event? By the late 1880s, the world's foremost archaeologists had declared there was nothing left to find in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. But Howard Carter continued to search for a tomb that no one was certain existed. On November 25, 1922, three weeks after uncovering a series of 16 stairs with a sealed doorway at the bottom, Carter opened not just an unknown ancient Egyptian tomb, but one that had lain nearly undisturbed for over 3,000 years. The Discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb sent ripples around the world of archaeology as well as the world of fashion. Once the antiquities of “Tut's" tomb were photographed and shared with the world, Paris designers began incorporating Egyptian motifs and patterns into their designs. The rich clamored for these designs, and the influence of this event quickly trickled down into mass produced clothing.The flapper* dress (pictured above and below) though not a Paris design, is hand stitched and beaded, and was collected by Marlyn Lawrentz, a Bloomington resident who adored vintage clothing. She donated it to the Museum in 1996. The circular patterning around the neckline was influenced by beaded collars, like the one pictured below, that were removed from Tut's tomb. (*Flappers were young women who in the 1920s rebelled against common rules of social behavior and dress.)Scroll through the slideshow below to see more of the dress and its inspiration.

Susan Hartzold

Curator of Exhibits

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