SLOW FASHION in Dordrecht

There are currently several museums offering fashion exhibitions in the Netherlands. Of these, Slow Fashion covers 150 years of fashion in one exhibition, at two different Dordrecht museums.

Slow Fashion refers to clothes being made to last, being worn and altered, being worn by several generations. So in stark contrast to what we are used to now: usually poor quality, cheap materials, mass-produced in sweat-shops elsewhere and thrown out within a year by most people. “Fast Fashion” thus adds to environmental and other problems.

The ‘slow’ fashion on display at the Dordrechts Museum, focuses on the changing fashion silhouette from the 18th till the 20th century. Some exhibited items were hardly altered, with the costumes displayed next paintings or in photos where they are worn. Other items were worn by later generations at masked balls or other fun events.

Many examples show alterations to ensure their owners continued to be dressed according to the latest fashion. What also helped preserve fashion items: expensive materials, non-chemical dyes, clever tailors and dressmakers. And of course: fashion styles not changing too much.

My favourites? One the jacket of the exhibition’s poster. It turned out to be even more beautiful and wearable than this poster suggests. The other remains that red, hand-quilted frock which must have taken hours to create. It may be less up-to-date, but combined with that close-fitting jacket made of historic chintz? See you at the next masked ball!

Towards the end of this small exhibition, visitors find contemporary examples in which sustainability and reuse play an important role. Here, the specially equipped ‘Remake Studio’ is also to be found. In this studio, staff from ‘Atelier Wereldwijven’ and volunteers help visitors alter cherished fashion items, so these items can start a new life.

At the second location of this fashion exhibition, visitors learn more about dress-code. At Huis van Gijn, Nieuwe Haven 29-30 in Dordrecht, fashion is displayed to show what was considered to be naf-naf, ‘faux pas’, altogether not done, ready to be handed down to servants, or finally: just right! Mind: dress-code of over a century ago.

Throughout this period home, visitors learn how fashion and society dictated changing clothes four times a day – for the wealthy. Fashion expressed status and with enough staff and clever acessories; clothes could be changed that often. In turn, this ensured clothes saw less wear and tear. In this museum, costumes are displayed in historical context and in interiors dating from the 18th to 19th century.

Both locations are within walking distance of each other, with the Dordrechts Museum closest to Dordrecht’s main train station. The Dordrechts Museum and Museum Huis van Gijn are both located in the historic town center. So “Slow Fashion” can easily be turned into a relaxed day-trip to Dordrecht.   Kate   7th January 2020

Slow Fashion continues until 12th April 2020.

Image: Museums’ exhibition poster, created by Marie Cecile Thijs