A fashion exhibit smelling of mothballs

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Events, Swedish
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The Hallwylska Museum in Stockholm tries to warm up this chilly autumn with a collection of woolen dresses and coats by Ebba von Eckermann. The exhibition entitled ¨ Woven Fashion Dreams- from Ripsa to New York” (Vävda modedrömmar- från Ripsa till New York) tells the story of a Swedish clothing company, which offered its classic outfits to the women in USA and Paris in the second half of last century.

Pushing my way through the tight lines of these ghosts of the past crowded in Hallwyska’s room, I couldn’t avoid one strong impression: this exhibition smells, metaphorically speaking, of mothballs.

It is a static exposition with a rather detached musical background; a nostalgic documentary film shown in the coatroom (!) did not convince me to dream about fashion fame together with Ebba.

It would be ridiculous to expect clothing from over 60 years to look trendy nowadays. But I still feel it is not too much to ask for a modern presentation of the garments.

Unfortunately, the exhibition at Hallwylska concentrates more on a patriotic legend of the industrious woman than on the real value of her fashion. Pictures of women weaving in the snow- covered town and packages being send from tiny Ripsa to Dior’s boutique create a cute and romantic vision of a Swedish design success story. But it does not say lot about how this fashion actually adapted to the reality of the 1950s.

The spirit of complacency colors the exhibition. As I examine the unattractively presented dresses, it is hard for me to believe that Ebba von Eckermann achieved something else than just dreaming about fashion.

Photo: Erik Lernestål, Text: Verónica Fraticelli

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