Loyola University Chicago

Department of History

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Undergraduate History Major Curates Fashion Exhibit at the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens

Mary Weathered Exhibit

Loyola University Chicago's Cuneo Mansion and Gardens presents an exhibition of period clothing, The Ladies of Cuneo: The Martha Weathered Fashion Collection, from May 12 through September 8. The exhibition explores the life and career of Martha Weathered, one of Chicago's most luxurious fashion importers, whose shop opened on Michigan Avenue in 1922 and operated until 1971.

Emilie Stallman, an undergraduate history major at Loyola University Chicago, tells us a little more about the exhibit in addition to sharing her experiences single-handedly curating this exhibit.

"The exhibition explores the life and legacy of the Chicago fashion importer, Martha Weathered, and the clothing that was worn by the two women who lived in the Cuneo Mansion, Julia Shepard Cuneo and Josephine Shepard. I hoped to both illustrate the development of the fashion industry from the 1940s to the 1960s and also put the clothes in the Cuneo collection into the historical context of this period. I was especially interested in the rationing of textiles during World War II and how the garments of the 1950s and 1960s were such a radical departure from the Utility Fashions of the 1940s. This exhibit reevaluates 1960s fashion; it shows that the emergence of youth culture affected fashion more profoundly than the sexual revolution or hippie counterculture.

I saw this exhibit as an opportunity to tap into the popularity of television shows such as Downton Abbey and Mad Men by displaying garments that the women depicted in these shows actually wore. The Cuneo Mansion and Gardens mirrors the grand, opulent setting of Downton Abbey mixed with the entrepreneurial vibe of 1960s Mad Men.

My favorite aspect about working at the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens was analyzing fashion through a historian’s lens. Placing these clothes in historical context was fascinating. I also loved digging around the closets at Cuneo because I would open a box only to discover an exquisite dress I had no idea was there."

For more information on the The Ladies of Cuneo: The Martha Weathered Fashion Collection visit the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens website.