I had heard about Karan Feder's work as clothing and costume preservationist before I met her last September. When our paths finally did cross, it was because my mother was moving to a Senior Living establishment and the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas was interested in some of her and my late dad's vintage clothing (my mother had outfits dating back to the late 1960s/early 1970s).
Karan has long been interested in preserving clothing but the classic Las Vegas era from the 1950s-1980s with its entertainers, showroom production numbers and the way that people used to dress to see a show, is of special interest to her.
She is the President of Entertainment Exhibitions and the Volunteer Curator of Costumes and Textiles at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas.
We had a great time talking about the challenges of preserving clothing and costumes:
CLV Blog: How did you become interested in preserving clothing and what makes clothing an important part of history?
Feder: The bulk of my professional background is in costume design and fashion design. The foundation for both fields is built on the study of the history of dress. The varying physical silhouettes of dress throughout the ages are definitely a fascinating science, but even more interesting are the reasons behind the variations. Culture and fashion are connected at the hip. With every new fashionable mutation, there is an intriguing story that serves to define the wearer's society, philosophy, sophistication, morality, economic status, etc.
Costume & textiles are often not afforded the value of study and preservation as are other collections within a traditional museum. Who would argue against preserving a beautiful 20th century oil painting, but a 20th century pantsuit? We put on clothes every day, wash our clothes and buy and dispose of clothing on a regular basis. Our culture has made clothing ubiquitous, easy to obtain and thus our relationship with it has been changed. We don't necessarily regard dress as artifact. By and large, current culture isn't contemplating the beauty of the pantsuit or the expert skills required to manufacture it, the Read More