Chicago and Its Botanic Garden

August 17th, 2015by Gary Johnson Filed under: Stories

In his Author! Author! blog series, Museum president Gary T. Johnson highlights works that draw on our collection.

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Cathy Jean Maloney and Chicago Botanic Garden. Chicago and Its Botanic Garden: The Chicago Horticultural Society at 125. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press (2015).

The Chicago Botanic Garden is living proof of how a public-partnership on the Chicago model can produce a world-class asset: entrust an underutilized public resource to a voluntary organization that has the vision, the energy, and the capacity to mobilize communities of support and to oversee a talented professional staff. The Chicago Horticultural Society and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County are the heroes of this remarkable unfolding story.

> Learn more about the book

> Read more about the Chicago Botanic Garden

A Convergence of Designer Histories

August 5th, 2015by Guest Blogger Filed under: Stories

Former CHM costume collection intern Michelle McVicker writes about a fascinating discovery she recently came across in the Museum’s archives. She is currently a MA candidate in Fashion Studies at Parsons School of Design.

Pauline Trigère (1912–2002) was a French-born American designer. It would seem as though her future in fashion design was predetermined, as her mother was a dressmaker and father was a tailor. At the age of twenty-five, Trigère moved to New York and in 1942 she opened her own fashion house, which she managed until her death at the age of ninety. Ultimately, it was Trigére’s combination of French elegance and American practicality that made her a success throughout her sixty-year career in the fashion industry. She is even quoted as stating, “People always say to me, ‘Aren’t you French?’ And I say, ‘No, I am American.’ I found in this country everything I wanted. This country made me Pauline Trigère.”

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A Pauline Trigère garment from the Parsons garment archives. Photograph taken by CHM staff.

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Fiorucci: A Splash of Fun at Water Tower

June 25th, 2015by Petra Slinkard Filed under: Collections, Exhibitions

In honor of Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile®, the Museum blog will publish a series of posts highlighting the stores, garments, designers, donors, and urban developments featured in the exhibition.

Water Tower Place, a seven-story, 758,000 square-foot vertical mall, opened its doors on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile in October 1975. At the time, it was almost completely vacant with the exception of its anchor stores, Marshall Field & Company and Lord & Taylor. However, due to its almost immediate success and prominent location on North Michigan Avenue, the mall’s retail spaces were completely leased by 1976.

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Interior of the Atrium Mall at Water Tower Place, c. 1976. ICHi-39590

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Flickering Empire

June 1st, 2015by Gary Johnson Filed under: Stories

In his Author! Author! blog series, Museum president Gary T. Johnson highlights works that draw on our collection.

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Michael Glover Smith and Adam Selzer. Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry. Chichester, West Sussex: Wallflower Press (2015).

The problem with many “missing-chapter-in-history” books is that they omit the wider context, and the reader is left wondering about the impact of the new information. The neglected story here is the brief but colorful story of Chicago as America’s capital, but the authors successfully set this story within the arc of film history. The story begins with Thomas Edison, continues through the World’s Columbian Exposition, moves on to Chicago-based companies, including Essanay Studios and Selig Polyscope Company, and movie stars from the Chicago days, such as Charlie Chaplin—and then addresses the move to Hollywood. The authors answer the question, “Why Chicago?” by setting the film story in the context of Chicago history.

> Read more about Flickering Empire and Michael Glover Smith’s work

> Discover more about Flickering Empire and Adam Selzer’s work

> Learn more about the Chicago film industry


An Exceptional Dior Cotillion Gown

May 22nd, 2015by Guest Blogger Filed under: Collections, Stories

Editor’s note: In honor of prom season, take a close look at one of the Museum’s ball gowns with costume collection intern Corie Azem.

While the House of Dior is most readily identified with the seminal New Look collection, it is also well known for its luxurious gowns. In Chicago, Christian Dior’s garments were first available for purchase through two high-end retailers: Marshall Field’s 28 Shop and the Stanley Korshak boutique. In 1949, one very ambitious and auspicious debutante, Miss Jeanne Brucker, won a one-of-a-kind, custom-made Dior gown to be worn at the inaugural Passavant Cotillion and Christmas Ball.

Portrait of Miss Jeanne Brucker in Dior ball gown
Miss Jeanne Brucker in her Dior gown, 1949

Chicago History Museum, ICHi-74219

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