the Countess of Grantham, during the London Season of 1923.
(Photo courtesy of Carnival Films)
Queen Elizabeth may have abolished "the London Season" in 1958 but for me, the "Phoenix Season" was alive and well in 2016.
In November 2015--only six months after I returned to Phoenix and two months before unpacking any of my inventory--I was asked if I might be interested in hosting one of the Arizona Costume Institute's Second Wednesdays events the following Spring. With limited access to my collection and an archival storage room that existed only on paper, I agreed wholeheartedly.
Finishing touches were put on the archive in January 2016: custom-built outriggers were installed, medical-grade ceiling tiles were cut and placed (by me), and wall, ceiling and floor joints were sealed to the outside (also by me). An airtight, gasketed door prevented contamination from the adjacent workroom, lights were treated with UV protection and an independent temperature and humidity monitor alerted me when the mercury climbed above (or the humidity below) a certain threshhold. My collection could finally be unpacked.
By March of 2016, all 3000+ items were being unpacked, some--which had been purchased before my move from Tucson--for the first time. With only two months to prepare for the Museum reception, I struggled to choose which I would feature. Would it be one of my stalwart favorites (an unsigned Jacques Fath gown from 1954) or a newly-acquired gown worn to President Taft's Inaugural Ball in 1909? The shining star of my collection (a John Galliano bias gown from 2002) or a robe de style befitting Downton Abbey's Lady Rose circa 1924?
In the end, I featured them all by mounting an exhibit of four of my most treasured pieces and conducting a tour of my archive for a standing-room-only crowd on May 11, 2016. Though they may be relics of the past, my "coming out" party was full of life last week thanks to the Arizona Costume Institute and its members.
Read the full story here, courtesy of The Chic Spy and Shane Baker Studios.