Event Details

Exhibition & Grand Opening
Women Empowered: Fashions from the Frontline


*Registration is now closed for this event.  To be added to the wait list please email heaad@cornell.edu 

Exhibition & Grand Opening
Women Empowered: Fashions from the Frontline

As part of the 2018 Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial comes a groundbreaking fashion exhibition from the Cornell Costume and Textile Collection which chronicles how women strategically use fashion for empowerment and collective goals and possibilities.  The exhibit features items worn by prominent activists, politicians, artists, athletes, academics, and everyday unsung heroes.

Please join us for this very special exhibit grand opening!

Date: December 6, 2018

5:00 – 5:45 p.m. Cocktail Reception 
5:45 – 6:30 p.m. Exhibit Presentation 
6:30 – 7:00 p.m. Exhibit Viewing

Location:  Human Ecology Commons, Cornell University MAP
Parking:   Forest Home Parking Garage (free after 4:30 p.m.) or Park Mobile at
                  Toboggan Lodge
Cost:   The event is free. 
RSVP:   Register by December 1, 2018

Featured items in the exhibit include:

  • Collars from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Campaign shoes worn by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
  • The inaugural suit worn by Texas governor Ann Richards and an outfit worn by her daughter Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood
  • A local #1199 cap worn by Coretta Scott King when she campaigned for hospital workers rights in 1969
  • A skirt suit worn by Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General
  • A gown worn by College of Human Ecology co-founder Martha Van Rensselaer when she met with the Queen of Belgium after helping to rebuild their libraries following the destruction of WWI
  • Cornell University hockey jerseys from the early 1970s alongside a recent jersey signed by the Canadian 2014 Olympic gold medalists from Cornell
  • A gown worn by suffrage advocate Olivia “Livy” Langdon in the 1880s; suffragette pins and ephemera from the early 20th century
  • An original garment design by Dr. Eulanda Sanders, the first black department chair at Iowa State University
  • Outfits worn by sex worker activist Debbie Sundahl
  • Ephemera from women who participated in the first ever Gay Games in 1994
  • Z U.S. American flag hijab worn by Haute Hijab’s creative director Gizelle Begler ’08
  • An original design by Rachel Powell ’17 that engages with the #metoo movement and addresses rape culture
  • Outfits worn by women circus performers
  • A quilt by Liberian seamstresses featuring commemorative cloth that depicts President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female head of state in Africa
  • And the political t-shirts, pussy hats, and other items worn by everyday women to convey solidarity and collective empowerment.

The exhibition features items on loan from the Texas Fashion Collection, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and private collections, in addition to artifacts from Cornell’s various special collections including the Human Sexuality Collection, Kheel Center for Labor Management Documentation and Archives, the Lindseth Woman Suffrage Collection, the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, and the Cornell Costume & Textile Collection.

THIS EXHIBIT is curated by graduate and undergraduate students in Professor Denise Green’s course Anthropology of the Fashioned Body. They have spent the semester interpreting the meaning of the “frontline” and researching individuals, movements, and material culture associated with women’s empowerment. From activists to politicians, artists, designers, athletes, scientists, organizers, mothers, and everyday unsung heroes, Women Empowered is curated according to the physical and public spaces where women’s bodies have carried messages of empowerment.

“Fashion has far too often been misunderstood and misrepresented as superficial. The garments and accessories in this exhibition show the very opposite: fashion is a highly visible and forceful medium that commands attention and communicates individual and collective goals and possibilities,” says Denise Green, Director of the Cornell Costume & Textile Collection. Feminism and fashion have the potential to go hand in hand, and the pieces in this exhibition prove just that.”

#frontlinefashions Facebook: @cornellcostume Instagram: @cornellcostumecollection

This exhibit is sponsored by The Cornell Council for the Arts; College of Human Ecology, Cornell University Library, and the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design

Cornell University’s Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, within the College of 
Human Ecology, maintains the Cornell Costume and Textile Collection (CCTC), which includes more than 10,000 items of apparel, accessories and flat textiles dating from the eighteenth century to present, including substantial collections of functional clothing, technical textiles, and ethnographic dress. The collection is used for exhibition, research and teaching.

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