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Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960

Jul 24, 2022 - Oct 16, 2022

Presented by: The Joe Orgill Family Fund for Exhibitions

Organized by: Organized by American Federation of Arts and the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles

Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960 explores women’s athletic and spectating attire from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Presenting sixty-five ensembles comprised of more than 480 historic objects from Western Europe and North America, the exhibition is composed entirely from the collection of the FIDM Museum. Among the items incorporated are costumes for activities from promenading and yachting to basketball and motorcycling by well-known sportswear brands such as Champion and Pendleton alongside clothing and accessories by fashion designers including Balenciaga and Chanel.

Through an examination of women’s activewear, the exhibition sheds light on the emergence of the modern woman and the dynamic ways she engaged with sports and other outdoor pursuits. Considering the combined effects of fashion, function, and propriety, the ensembles on view also shed light on the cultural, economic, and technical underpinnings of women’s athletic attire. Designers and athletes alike were challenged to develop clothing that both met the needs of women pursing an increasingly broad range of activities and conformed to the societal expectations that restricted their movement. These designs demonstrate how women challenged the status quo and paved a path of achievement in sports for future generations. Although this attire was primarily worn by affluent women, who had ample leisure time and access to specialized equipment, it is also a testament to the challenging, competitive, and playful characteristics of sports that are an essential aspect of the human spirit.

Visitors will find six thematic sections devoted to particular outdoor activities, from early nineteenth-century attire for walking and gardening to seasonal garb for both winter sports and water-based activities. Clothing related to horseback riding and mechanized sports will also be displayed as well as uniforms designed for a variety of team sports. Sporting Fashion is the first exhibition to explore the evolution of women’s athletic attire in Western fashion and provides a unique visual record of women’s engagement in sports from 1800 to 1960.

American Federation of Arts
FIDM Museum

Sponsored by:
Opus East Memphis
Margaret Oates Dixon Society

Kate and Michael Buttarazzi
Karen and Preston Dorsett
Theodore W. and Betty J. Eckels Foundation
Andrea and Doug Edwards
Amanda and Nick Goetze
Susan and John Horseman
Anne and Mike Keeney
Nancy and Steve Morrow
Irene Orgill
Gwen and Penn Owen
Chris and Dan Richards
Irene and Fred Smith
Adele Wellford

Painting Sponsors Include:

Martha and Mike Hess
Betty and Jack Moore
Nell Levy