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Archive visit at the Modemuseum in Antwerp

Updated: May 3, 2023

Written by: Jytte Maenhout. Reviewed by: Marthe Bonnez


On Monday March 20, the students of the research team of ‘Belgian Fashion before the Antwerp Six’ had the pleasure to look at a selection of garments and magazines from the ModeMuseum (MoMu) in Antwerp. The excursion consisted of five parts: studying some garments, a discussion of Romy Cockx’s research on the magazine de Nieuwe Vrouw, looking at fashion magazines, a lecture by Karen Van Godstenhoven and Wim Mertens on Fashion during the Ostend season 1900-1905 and a lecture by Wim Mertens on his work as head of collection-based research.

In the reading room, selected nineteenth-century garments that had already been analyzed for dating but whose labels and makers had not yet been researched were on display. The labels bore the following names: Mme Valentine Désire, Mmes Coche, L. & M. Depauw and D’Aubreby Van Swae. One piece that drew attention was a mourning dress. Here we were given further historical context on the regulations surrounding mourning garments. In the 19th century, one had to wear black clothing for 1.5 years after the loss of a loved one with white and mauve of colors being added after 10 months. With the First World War, too many people had to mourn which brought the rules to an end. In addition, we were given some tips on studying garments such as looking at the armpits for wear and looking for traces of altering of garments.

Introducing the study of journals, Romy Cockx came to speak about her research on the Belgian journal de Nieuwe Vrouw, 1890-1930. She outlined the institutions she consulted for her research, mainly sources on women's history in Belgium. Then we got to work on the stacks of magazines ourselves. Here we gave extra attention to the magazine's price, distribution list, editor in chief, how often it was published and information of the images.

To conclude the excursion, we moved through the monumental hall shaped by Marie-Josee Van Hee to the auditorium. Here we were given a lecture by Karen Van Godstenhoven and Wim Mertens on their research into fashion in the Ostend season of 1900-1905. Ostend was the new refuge of the Brussels mundane public after Spa. From this, it became clear that sports activities carried out at leisure time were a catalyst for fashion developments. The research started from the collection of Jacoba de Jonge. Finally, Wim Mertens spoke to stress the importance of research starting from a collection. He gave some suggestions for possible research on embroidery in Lier, conservation of plastics and Olivier Theyskens.



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