More than just clothes, fashion is a reflection of culture and society and can serve as a time capsule for a particular era, offering a tangible glimpse into that time’s norms and customs.
A new exhibit at UNC Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library explores fashion’s ability to capture a moment in time. “From Frock Coats to Flip-flops: 100 Years of Fashion at Carolina” offers an uncommon look at campus history through the clothing worn by students over the past century.
Artifacts from the library’s permanent collection and on loan from alumni, library staff and PlayMakers Repertory Company tell the stories of student life on campus.
“Because fashion is a reflection of culture, it provides a lens through which we can observe student life at UNC over the hundred-year span, and helps us to present a picture of the UNC student body over the decades,” says Linda Jacobson, keeper of the North Carolina Collection Gallery, Wilson Library.
Never miss a local story.
“For example, students who attended UNC in 1900 were predominantly male, white and affluent, and dressed in the fashionable well-made clothing representative of their position in the educated leadership class,” Jacobson says. “Basically, it was hard to distinguish the students from the younger professors or from each other because they dressed in the same clothing: three-piece suits and high, stiff collars. They dressed in the manner of the professional men they aspired to be. These young men were expected to become leaders in their home counties after graduation, and they dressed the part as students.”
Pieces in the exhibit trace the loosening of cultural mores and the youthful rebellion of students through shortened hemlines from the 1920s to bell bottoms and dashikis during the 1960s and 1970s. And looks from Julian’s – the iconic Franklin Street clothing store – chronicle the rise of preppy culture and the fashion career of native son Alexander Julian, whose argyle design adorns UNC athletic uniforms even today. (Julian will deliver a lecture, “The Threads of Carolina Style,” April 19 at 5:30 p.m., in the library’s Pleasants Family Assembly Room.)
Throughout the eras represented in the exhibit, one common thread remains evident – the desire of students to show their school pride through the clothing they wear.
“Even through all the social change that happened over the 20th century, Carolina students in every era seemed to value their identity as members of the UNC community and they found ways to express that through their clothing, whether it was young man in the 1960s having a UNC patch sewn onto his navy blue sport coat or a young woman in the early 1980s wearing a Carolina blue tube top with her white painter-pant overalls,” says Emily Jack, digital projects and outreach librarian, North Carolina Collection Gallery
The free exhibit runs through June 5. Learn more at library.unc.edu/wilson/ncc or by calling 919-962-3765.
Models for Charity Show
Models for Charity, a local organization of models who raise funds for Triangle charities, hosts its anniversary fashion show, Wildest Dreams, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Held at Melrose Knitting Mill in downtown Raleigh, the show features clothing and accessories inspired by vintage Hollywood glamour and made by local designers. Proceeds from the show benefit the Conservator’s Center, a Burlington wildlife refuge that introduces visitors to rare, threatened and endangered species. Tickets are $25 general admission, $50 VIP, which includes preferred seating, a swag bag, food and beverages. For tickets and more info, visit mfcraleigh.com/events.
CT Weekends show
CT Weekends in Raleigh’s Cameron Village hosts a spring fashion show luncheon Thursday, noon to 1 p.m. Attendees will get a preview of new looks, enjoy lunch and receive a $50 gift card good toward a $100 purchase. Tickets are $25, and proceeds will benefit SAFEChild (safechildnc.org), which works to prevent child abuse and neglect. Tickets are available in store or by calling 919-787-9073.
Impressa Jewelry Closes
Impressa Jewelry in Crabtree Valley Mall will close its doors on Saturday.
Opened in 1990 by Steve and Lori Boole, the Raleigh shop specialized in high-quality fashion jewelry, such as lab-created gemstone Moissanite, which mimics the look of diamonds. The Booles are holding a closing sale that runs through Saturday. After that, fans of the store’s baubles will be able to still shop its website, impressajewelry.com, and at occasional pop-up shops.
“The main thing we have accomplished as business owners has been the building of a loyal customer base and so many friendships,” says Lori Boole. “We hope as we embark on a new era for our business that these wonderful fans will still be able to find us.”
Dovecote boutique’s spring pop-up shop series continues this week with footwear from Zee Alexis on Saturday and Sunday. Made with memory foam, these colorful shoes are designed to comfort tired feet. Dovecote is located in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village. Call for info: 919-542-1145.
Robert Barnowske, vice president of design for David’s Bridal, will visit the Raleigh location of the bridal chain on Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Barnowske, who previously served as vice president of design for Vera Wang, will share new looks from the company’s spring collection and offer styling advice to bridal clients. For more information, call 919-877-9828.
Send Style Watch tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.