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Event Details

Wed, November 10, 2021

13:00 – 13:45

Live on Zoom (NYU Florence Community only)
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze

A display of Chinese and French robes and gowns, in dialogue with the Acton-Mitchell collection, rich in Asian carpets, decorative objects, and furniture. Books, music, and photographs preserved in the house at Villa La Pietra will also contribute to an exploration of the Acton-Mitchell family’s collecting taste and their strong interest in Asia.

(Open to NYU Florence Community only)

Join us for an online presentation of the ongoing curatorial student-based project to learn about fashion at the beginning of the 20th century.  We will focus on the robes and gowns of Hortense Mitchell Acton in the context of her inclination towards Chinese art and culture, which is visible throughout the house museum. This later influenced Harold Acton’s decision to live and teach in Beijing for seven years.

Fascination, Approximation or Appropriation? What did it mean for Hortense to wear a Chinese coat for a dinner at La Pietra, or to ask the family friend Umberto Brunelleschi, a magazine illustrator and opera costume designer, to create a ‘Chinese style’ outfit for a public performance? Or to commission the French House Callot Soeurs to design evening dresses with butterflies, or peonies, or a bat motif? To use a diagonal cut or large bat sleeves?  Or a long straight waist and corset-less dress?

As a part of NYU’s global university, we encourage our students to think critically about this history of fashion with its aspects of appropriation while, at the same time, appreciating the aesthetics of complex textile works.

Minimal treatment was carried out on the dresses, robes, and carpets by the conservation studio Restauro Tessile, in order to prepare these fragile textiles for display.

Speakers will include Larry Wolff and Perri Klass, Co-Directors; Anna Kazumi Stahl, Director NYU Buenos Aires; Francesca Baldry, Collection Manager; Annie Hosch, Corinne Lattermann, Marie Miller, Josecarlos Navarro (JC), Victor Zhou, NYU Florence students; Claudia Beyer and Costanza Perrone Da Zara, Textile Conservators, Restauro Tessile.

A 3 min video by Domenico Cannalire, Coordinator Media Production, will be projected during the presentation.