“Thread: Stories of Fashion at Strawbery Banke, 1740-2012” Opens in Portsmouth NH May 1, 2012

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Strawbery Banke Museum preserves and animates 400 years of history on the seacoast of New Hampshire by providing public access to the homes, shops and gardens of the people who lived in this Puddle Dock, Portsmouth neighborhood. The showcase exhibit for 2012 -- Thread: Stories of Fashion at Strawbery Banke, 1740-2012 -- presents the clothes they wore and the fashion sense of Portsmouth, from the 1740 embroidered London Lady’s Shoe to the fanciful 2012 Emma Hope shoe it inspired. Rarely seen items from the museum’s costume collection are displayed alongside the creations of 15 contemporary designers in six of the museum’s historic houses.

London Lady's Shoe c. 1740 from Strawbery Banke Museum

London Lady's Shoe c. 1740

"Our mission, after all, is to inform a contemporary dialogue with ideas and objects from our own past” -- Lawrence J. Yerdon, president & ceo, Strawbery Banke Museum

Strawbery Banke Museum preserves and animates 400 years of history on the seacoast of New Hampshire by providing public access to the homes, shops and gardens of the people who lived in this Puddle Dock, Portsmouth neighborhood.

The showcase exhibit for 2012 -- Thread: Stories of Fashion at Strawbery Banke, 1740-2012 -- presents the clothes they wore and the fashion sense of Portsmouth, from the 1740 embroidered London Lady’s Shoe to the fanciful 2012 Emma Hope shoe it inspired. Rarely seen items from the museum’s costume collection are displayed alongside the creations of 15 contemporary designers in six of the museum’s historic houses, including the Goodwin Mansion, Chase House, the Thomas Bailey Aldrich House, Shapley-Drisco, Rider-Wood and the Abbott Store. Visitors are introduced to the collection and to some of the contemporary designers via video, in the Rowland Gallery. The exhibit is included in the price of regular admission ($15 adults, $10 children 5-17, free to members and children under 5), seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm, May 1 through October 31, 2012.

“Portsmouth is no stranger to fashion, which is why the architecture, artifacts and stories preserved by Strawbery Banke Museum make a compelling visitors’ experience and have drawn passionate advocates for more than fifty years,” said Lawrence J. Yerdon, president and CEO. “Our mission, after all, is to inform a contemporary dialogue with ideas and objects from our own past.”

Portsmouth’s seaport has attracted goods from the ordinary to the luxurious, and kept up with trends imported from Paris and London, from the time Strawberry Bank was settled in 1630. The rich decorative arts expressed from the drawing rooms to the workingman’s shops make a perfect backdrop to the clothes that made the men and women who made history here.

This exhibition portrays the people of Portsmouth, the way they lived and worked and the way they presented themselves to the world. From the heavy silk and brass buttons of Samuel Cutts’ suit that speak to his colonial prominence and explain why he was the man who greeted Paul Revere in Stoodley’s Tavern, to the tiny buttons of Sarah Goodwin’s gown made of the printed cotton woven at her husband (NH Governor) Ichabod Goodwin’s Portsmouth Steam Factory, to the satin bowling jacket from the 1950s Shapley-Drisco House – these are the clothes of the people who led real lives here. The Strawbery Banke Museum collection at the heart of this exhibition – with many items displayed for the first time – shows just how conscious of fashion the Seacoast’s residents were. The modern creations crafted by contemporary designers in the spirit of that collection show just how strong a fashion sensibility remains in the Seacoast.

The new fashion designs inspired by the Collection, will be presented at the Passion For Fashion Gala on June 30. The Gala celebrity designers’ runway show, hosted by Project Runway and Lifetime TV’s Austin Scarlett and produced by Amy McLaughlin Lifestyles of Newburyport will feature the creations of established names and up-and-coming ingénues from the Thread exhibit, including: Emma Hope of London, Philip Treacy, also of London, Katerina Lankova (New York and Aspen), Chesley McLaren, Lily Zane and members of The Milliners Guild of New York (Sally Caswell, Christine Roemer, Cigmond, Barbara Volker, Ellen Christine Colon-Lugo) and Elizabeth Ronzio of St. Louis. Project Runway's Scarlett, Epperson and Project Runway Canada's Genevieve Marie Cyr are participating as are Boston Fashion Week's Carter Smith and Emily Muller. New Hampshire designers include Penumbra Textiles by Bridget Bleckmann, Robin Bettencourt, Erana, Alexa Price, Sarah Koski and Sarah Beth Johnson

It’s not by chance that Portsmouth is an officially licensed Fashion’s Night Out (Sep 6th) city. More fashion is found in the independent boutiques of Portsmouth, just a few blocks away. The Portsmouth Athenaeum, debuts its own fashion exhibit Height of Propriety: Fashions through time of the Proprietors of the Portsmouth Athenaeum on June 15.

Many of the items from the Museum’s Collection are displayed for the first time and all of the contemporary designs are custom creations for Strawbery Banke. As the pieces from the Museum collection are too fragile for permanent display and as the contemporary design will return to their creators, Thread is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Strawbery Banke Museum is located at 14 Hancock Street in downtown Portsmouth, NH. The museum is open 7 days a week, May 1 through October 31. Admission: $15 adults, $10 children 5-17, free to children under 5. Family admission $40 (2 adults and all accompanying children). For more information about Thread and about the Museum as a place to gather and to learn about how ordinary people lives over three centuries of New England history, visit http://www.strawberybanke.org

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Stephanie Seacord
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