Heavy Metal Threads At RISD

Extraordinary garments from the première fashion houses of the early 20th century (there’s an amazing two-piece Fortuny) are on display now in ‘Golden Glamour’ at the RISD Museum. The wall text explains their local provenance. Raised in Newport, Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt Gerry . . . Thurston Howell the 3rd . . . lived with her first husband, George Vanderbilt, in the spectacular Biltmore House in North Carolina where — judging from the enlarged wall photos illustrating the exhibit — they apparently threw highly theatrical parties.

“These garments dating from 1922 to the late 1930s share two traits: they were worn by Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt Gerry (1873-1958) and they incorporate gold in the form of lame, metallic pigments, and actual metal threads. During the period represented here, lames and pale gold silks added glamour and festive brightness to eveningwear, and Edith with her striking good looks and height of nearly six feet, was the perfect model.

Following Vanderbilt’s untimely death she returned to Rhode Island where she married Senator Peter G. Gerry, and upon her death in 1958 her grandchildren offered her clothing to the RISD. (The house at 62 Prospect later became RISD’s Woods-Gerry House with its 1st floor gallery.) Below is a heavily-draped silver lamé number.

ProJo staff writer Jenna Pelletier has a great profile of RISD Museum costume and textiles curator Laurie Brewer and how this scattered grouping came together for this exhibit. Check out the photo of the silk velvet and fur evening coat. This was quite a dame.

Golden Glamour, RISD Museum, 224 Benefit Street, costume and textile gallery, no admission charged on Sundays

Gerry collection

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