The wait is over and Seattle finally has a chance to share its style story with the world! The MOHAI Seattle Style: Fashion/Function exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, May 4th and will be on view until October 14th. The exhibit features fashion that was made, worn, and styled in Seattle from the mid-1800s to the present. Curated by MOHAI's Collection Specialist for Costumes and Textiles Clara Berg, the exhibit is informative, exciting, and will likely disrupt any preconceived notions you may have had about Seattle fashion.
"Seattle has a rich history of clothing makers and style leaders," said Berg. "Outdoor gear, casual wear, and grunge are connected to key parts of our history and had a national and international impact. There are many stories of high fashion in Seattle as well - people who wore it, stores that imported it, and designers who made it."
Highlights of the exhibit include a chevron print hostess dress circa 1971 that was sold by Seattle retailer John Doyle Bishop, a green wool ski jacket circa 1948 made by the Seattle Woolen Company, a silk Schiaparelli butterfly print evening gown made in Paris and worn in Seattle around 1937, a pair of 1994 Union Bay short overalls, Tommy Bahama Hawaiian print shirts, and even a beanie and sweater worn in the early 90s by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.
The exhibit is accompanied by a companion book which was edited by Berg and features a forward by Seattle-based fashion designer Luly Yang. In the book, you'll find an overview of each thematic section of the exhibit along with the stories that bring each piece to life. Eager fashion fans will get to dive deeper into the stories of treasured Seattle brands like Filson, REI, Nordstrom, and Eddie Bauer, while also learning about some of the contemporary brands in the city like Buki, who is best known for its innovative fiber technology.
Sponsors of the exhibit include Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, ArtsFund, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and more. Here are 5 things you need to know about the new exhibit opening to the public on Saturday, May 4th.
#1 - The exhibit was the brainchild of curator Clara Berg
Clara recognized that people often dismissed Seattle fashion or questioned its existence altogether, but her role as Collections Specialist for Costume and Textiles provided her with rare insight into the museum's archive of over 30,000 garments, accessories, and flat textiles. She knew Seattle was long overdue to tell its style story and that motivated her to bring this exhibit to life.
#2 - The exhibit was a group effort
Over 30 members of the Seattle fashion community shared their unique fashion insight with MOHAI over the past year as part of the advisory committee for the exhibit. The group included Jill Donnelly of Baby & Company, designer Suk Chai of SCHAI, Davora Lindner of Prairie Underground, Colin Berg of Eddie Bauer, and more.
#3 - The companion book is a must-have
I can't say enough good things about the hardcover companion book that accompanies the exhibit. Written by Clara Berg with a foreword by Luly Yang, this book covers Seattle fashion in a way its never been explored before. There are so many interesting stories featured in the book that truly help readers understand Seattle's signature style and how it's evolved into what it is today.
#4 - The fashion programming is really good
The museum has curated an epic line-up of programming to support the exhibit including lectures on ethical fashion, new Behind the Seams events hosted by curator Clara Berg, 30-minute Seattle style tours, a fashion show featuring the work of student designers at Seattle Pacific University, a full Seattle style month in September, and more. View the full MOHAI calendar of events here. Gossip & Glamour will be moderating a panel about ethical fashion on Wednesday, May 8th.
#5 - This exhibit is helping to change the narrative about Seattle fashion
As someone who's been working in the Seattle fashion industry since 2000, I am SO EXCITED to see this exhibit finally come to life. We have so much to celebrate and be proud of. The fact of the matter is, we have contributed so much to the global style scene by being exactly who we are: innovators and rule breakers.
MOHAI is located in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood at 860 Terry Ave. N. Learn more about the style exhibit here.