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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wedding Dress Stories from the Goldstein (Part II)

Contemporary American brides are often expected to wear white at their wedding. Historically, brides simply wore their "best dress" - in any color - for the occasion. Infused with the young bride's dreams and hopes, this "best dress" was temporarily transformed into a wedding dress. Most brides continued to wear their dress long after the wedding, sometimes even restyling it to keep up with changing fashions. Carefully saved by sons and daughters decade after decade, these treasured dresses comprise the foundation of GMD's collection.


Above: Wedding bodice and skirts, 1876. Gift of Jeanette Hauschild 1996.133.001a-c

The light brown, elaborately ruffled dress above was worn by twenty-five-year-old schoolteacher Anna Jane Hanson when she wed William Secoy in her family home in Illinois on April 4, 1876. Anna was described as a beautiful and accomplished woman - frugal, honest, and ambitious - whose prized wedding gift was the Bible given to her by her father, John. Over 130 years later, this dress remains as a testament to Anna's transformation from daughter to wife. Less than twenty-four hours after the ceremony, the young bride left her hometown to begin a new life with her husband out West.

Carefully crafted from fine wool challis dyed antique bronze, this gown is comprised of three pieces: a highly structured bodice, an underskirt with a train and bustle, and an overskirt with a sweetly ruffled pocket. Hundreds of tiny knife pleats and ruffles line the edges of the skirts and cuffs. Together, they form a striking pattern on the back bodice, emphasizing the bride's hourglass figure. A sheer white neckerchief, now lost, complemented the ensemble.

Above: WAVES uniform and hat, 1940-1944. Gift of Dorothy Samuelson Leeds 1977.036.001a-e

Prim and polished, this Naval Reserve uniform was worn as a wedding dress by Dorothy Samuelson. Amid the drama of World War II, Dorothy, a University of Minnesota graduate (College of Home Economics, class of 1933), married Herbert Alan Leeds, a Merchant Marine, on April 14, 1944.

Over 350,000 women joined the United States Armed Services during World War II. The women's branch of the Navy was called the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). Members held the same status as those in the Naval Reserve and provided crucial stateside military support. Upon joining the WAVES, Dorothy was named Officer In Charge of uniforms. Dorothy recalled that "between February 1943 and August 1945, my department put 90,000 women into navy blue. It was a unique experience because it was an unprecedented, ingenious, efficient and cooperative effort between the military and six highly competitive New York department stores."

Sadly, Dorothy has passed on. Her husband Herbert recently visited the Goldstein to see Dorothy's wedding dress, an emotional experience for all involved. He is pictured above, posing alongside the dress Dorothy wore for their wedding.

-Natasha Thoreson
GMD Collections Assistant

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Open Call for Nominations for the Margot Siegel Design Award

Deadline for nominations - December 30, 2012

ReserachLab_20111207_025.jpgThe Goldstein Museum of Design is pleased to announce an exciting new award for emerging designers - the Margot Siegel Design Award. This annual award will be presented to a designer for excellence and innovation in his/her field, but who has yet to receive major recognition. The goal of the Siegel Design Award is to propel new design through acknowledgement of outstanding ideas, public service, and collaborative thinking.

The winner of the Siegel Design Award will receive an all-expense paid trip to the Twin Cities to speak at the College of Design and be presented with a check for $2,000. Margot Siegel, a longtime supporter of the Goldstein Museum of Design, established this fund to recognize the importance of design in enhancing the quality of life.

The Selection Committee will review all nominations and the Siegel Design Award winner will be notified in early 2013. Deadline for submissions is December 30, 2012.

Please consider nominating a designer for this award and forward this call to colleagues and friends. See the attached document for details on the nomination process. Contact me at or 612.624.3292 with questions.

This exciting new program honors emerging designers with good ideas that can shape the future. Send in your nominations for the Margot Siegel Design Award, then watch for the announcement next spring of the program featuring the winner!

Yours in design,

Lin Nelson-Mayson, GMD director

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Special Donor Is Recalled

Thanks to hundreds of donors, the Goldstein Museum of Design now has over 29,000 objects in its collection. All donors are special!


JoanDouglassVisit4.jpgSome donors stand out because of the quality, rarity, or beauty of what they gave. Donor Kathleen Catlin stands out because she gave GMD a spectacular group of dresses, suits, and hats that are true French couture from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

She did not give GMD "Juicy Couture", which is a mass-produced fashion label popular today; she gave real couture. Most of the dresses and suits donated by Mrs. Catlin were made especially for her by one of the French fashion houses, including Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Madame Gres, Coco Chanel, and Pierre Balmain. As a fashion director for Marshall Field's in Chicago from 1946 to 1962, Mrs. Catlin was tremendously influential in helping to popularize European designers in America. She and Dior were especially close friends.

JoanDouglassVisit2.jpgThrough a chance remark, I recently discovered that a casual friend, Joan Douglass, was a relative by marriage to Mrs. Catlin. Joan knew a lot about Kathleen Catlin's substantial donations to GMD, and said she would love to see some of the things that were donated.

Grad Assistant Natasha Thoreson and I chose about 20 pieces to show Joan for her November 5th visit to GMD's Research Center. We included a cross-section of Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, and Gres, including a rare toile (prototype garment) and several hats. The photos below show Joan Douglass viewing some of these items.We remain grateful to Kathleen Catlin for her wonderful donation, and to Joan Douglass for reminding us of Mrs. Catlin's generosity and of her impressive career in fashion.

--Kathleen Campbell, GMD

(Top) Joan Douglass viewing a Dior evening coat from about 1950.
(Middle) Joan remarked upon the unusual draping of a dress by Madame Gres.
(Bottom) Joan especially liked the yellow straw hat personalized with Kathleen Catlin's initials, KC.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wedding Dress Stories from the Goldstein (Part I)

The Goldstein Museum of Design continues to expand its digital database. Over the past three years, the GMD has photographed nearly 15% of the collection, or 3000 objects. Among the most spectacular images showcase the Goldstein's collection of wedding dresses.

Though these photos appeal to the eye, they also appeal to the emotions. Long after the wedding has taken place, the dress remains as a document, a collection of memories, dreams, and hopes. The dress is a symbol of transition, a testament to both the bride's personal rite of passage and her participation in the very social ritual of marriage. This blog, first in a series of three, will tell the stories of these wedding dresses.


(Above) Wedding dress, veil, and petticoat, 1962. Gift of Barbara Taylor Anderson 1998.024.001a-c

Crafted from cotton voile and imported Venetian lace, this beautiful 1962 wedding dress would have floated gracefully down the aisle. The gown boasted a "Sabrina" (boatneck) neckline and elbow length sleeves, both trimmed with lace. This same lace formed a continuous panel down the front, creating a rhythmic effect from neck to hem. Tiny covered buttons ran down the back of the bodice and voluminous petticoats gave shape to the full skirt and chapel-length train. A matching bow, trimmed with lace, and a delicate fingertip veil were pinned to the bride's elegant upswept hairdo.

The bride, Barbara Taylor, was intrigued by a newspaper ad featuring the dress. Convinced it was "the one," she purchased it at Harold, a women's specialty store in downtown Minneapolis. Barbara's wedding took place in Rhinelander, a small town in northeastern Wisconsin, in June 1962. She carried a small cascading bouquet of tiny yellow roses, white daisies, and trailing English ivy.


While this stunning gown was worn for a June 1996 wedding in St. Paul, it seems to reference the glamorous 1960s-era dress seen above. A stylized leaf lace motif trims the elbow length sleeves, bodice, and cathedral-length train. The modest square neckline, Jackie Kennedy-esque pillbox hat, and flower-adorned tulle veil complete the 60s look.

A photograph of the bride, Elizabeth O'Brien, shows her looking perfectly polished in a bobbed haircut and pearls, carrying a large cascading bouquet of white lilies, roses, baby's breath, and long ivy vines. The bride was accompanied by three statuesque bridesmaids wearing steel-blue column dresses and matching pumps. The bridesmaids also carried large cascading bouquets comprised of bright pink rose buds, carnations, and blue bells.

(Above) Wedding dress, headpiece, and veil, 1995. Gift of Joan K. O'Brien 2001.073.014a-f

Natasha Thoreson
GMD Collections Assistant