The Color Experience exhibition at Lois Jett Historic Costume Collection gallery – News


1950s ensembles in the Lois Jett Historic Costume Collection

1950s ensembles in the Lois Jett Historic Costume Collection

The Lois Jett Historic Costume Collection (LJHCC) in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Illinois State University invites the public to the collection’s new exhibition, The Color Experience, running through August 30.

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The Color Experience widely focuses on the influence of color on fashion trends ranging from the early 1900s to the present day. It showcases the importance of the influence of color in fashion from a variety of different standpoints, as color can be used to provoke an emotional response or visually express a mood or emotion. Each color, color family, or color combination conveys specific moods and associations that are essential to the marketing of products or a company’s image. Vivid and vibrant colors may express drama, while soft colors evoke tranquility. This exhibition walks guests through the variety of experiences that color in fashion can create.

The exhibition was planned and installed by students in the fashion design and merchandising program at Illinois State. The exhibition showcases 23 ensembles and associated artifacts to display how color has been evidenced in fashion over the last century. Exhibition lead curators Jordyn Gahrs and Cameron Parks planned The Color Experience to lead guests chronologically through the gallery, from popular colors in selected decades and colors that have been recycled, to the importance of color forecasting in fashion.

“I have always found it interesting, the way that color can affect the mind and change the way the people perceive each other day by day,” Gahrs said. “Color in fashion can mean a lot of things, from current trends in the market to general symbolism, such as a bride in a white gown or a mourner dressed in all black. I wanted to take these concepts and dig deeper with them to find out why they existed. Why are some colors popular during certain periods of history but nonexistent in fashion 10 years later?

“This exhibition features a display of ten garments and accessories that solely focus on the way that color in fashion changed throughout the 20th century from popular culture influences to societal norms. The exhibition also showcases three wonderful examples of the rejuvenation of color in fashion over time, displaying that popular colors and trends can disappear and reappear throughout history.”

Parks commented on the exhibition planning experience overall: “My favorite part about both developing this exhibition and working in the LJHCC this semester has been the opportunity to examine the design details and trends evident from extant garments of past decades. I have learned more about how color is viewed and perceived by humans, why we experience different emotions when viewing color, how color influences industries other than fashion, and how colors are cyclically rejuvenated as time moves forward.”

Parks also highlighted the value of the LJHCC: “Many fashion design and merchandising students around the world would not have the access or permission to view and inspect collection items with their own hands, so the LJHCC at Illinois State provides a unique platform for its students to research, analyze, and appreciate its contents.”

This free exhibition is located in 126 Turner Hall on Illinois State’s campus and is open to the campus and surrounding community.

The LJHCC was created in 1962 by Lois Jett, a professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. Over the years, the collection has expanded to more than 2,000 items of men’s, women’s, and children’s dress and related artifacts from around the world dating from the 1840s to today.

Gallery hours through May 3 are Monday, from 9 a.m.–noon; Tuesday, 2–4 p.m.; and Friday, noon–1 p.m. To schedule additional times Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., contact Jennifer Banning.


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