Exhibitions on display at the University of Minnesota campus museums during the AAMG Annual Conference:
The Goldstein Museum of Design’s summer exhibition, Dior to Disco: Fashion in the Era of Second Wave Feminism, explores the impact that Second Wave Feminism had on the clothing women wore during the mid-20th century. Christian Dior’s retrograde fashions of 1947, paradoxically referred to as “The New Look“, celebrated a traditional pre-war femininity that women eagerly strove to emulate. The New Look was so successful that Dior, who died suddenly in 1957, did not live to see the complete dissolution of his enduring designs. However, a fashionable change was brewing that collided head-on with the women’s movement of the 1960s.
Simultaneously heralded for bringing issues of gender equity to the masses and criticized for situating gender inequity as the exclusive problem of middle-class white women, Second Wave Feminism of the mid 1960s and early 1970s questioned women’s roles and the happy housewife architype. The flawless hourglass figured woman of the 1950s began to lose her footing. Despite the persistence of idealization, women began to reinvent themselves through eclectic clothing styles that included t-shirts and jeans, natural hair, mod bobs, Chanel suits, and maxi dresses.
In today’s #MeToo era of pussy hats, platform heels, and trendy tennies that smack of soft-soled orthopedic shoes, there are competing ideas about what it means to present a powerful image through clothes. Using objects from GMD and literature from the University of Minnesota Archives, this exhibition explores the blurring boundaries of mid-century fashion and feminism through apparent opposites. By looking deeply into concepts of youth and old age, femininity and androgyny, and working women and homemakers, we see that dichotomies having striking similarities.