Tailored for Freedom.
The Artistic Dress around 1900
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld
– 24 February 2019
Some items of clothing can be ascribed to certain social developments that are more or less clear to us. The Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld is showcasing the historical background of the artistic dress – the subject of discussion in women’s clothing around 1900. More than 100 years ago the founding director of the same museum, Friedrich Deneken, initiated the first exhibition on artistic reform clothes.
At the beginning of the 20th century emancipatory processes especially in the field of clothing emerged: wearing a corset, for example, was at least up for debate and no longer the norm. Social reform movements not only called for more comfortable, less restrictive women’s fashions, but – in considering life as a total work of art through the design of every aspect of life – also made aesthetic demands. Artists such as Henry van de Velde, Alfred Mohrbutter, Richard Riemerschmid and Margarete von Brauchitsch took up the dress – regarding it more as a design surface than as an object – and gave it a strong character.
The exhibition “Tailored for Freedom. The Artistic Dress around 1900 in Fashion, Art and Society”, illuminates the historical connections of the reform movement with regard to art, fashion, photography, and dance between the years 1900 and 1914. It includes artist’s dresses from the museum’s own collection as well as loans. The European networks of the Pre-Raphaelites, the art nouveau movement, the Wiener Werkstätte and the expressionists play an important role here. Through expressive dance, new media for stage productions, the spread of photography, posters and fashion drawings, they brought new designs into everyday areas of life, some of which are still relevant today.