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Teagown, c. 1893–1900, with Tyffanie Morgan wearing her teagown, 2023.
The Historical, The Technical, The Fabulous

The Historical, The Technical, The Fabulous

PfAB gathers together all these threads…

Dress is already performative, and the historical Dress Collection itself finds roots in theatrical performance and fashion pageantry. It began as costumes for the Drama department at Queen’s University in the 1940s. As Kingstonians donated heirloom clothing, costumer-turned curator Margaret Angus designated some as museum quality and preserved them in a collection. Over the years, these garments were worn in historical fashion pageants as a form of exhibition. By 1985, that collection fell under the care of Agnes, where we continue to find ways of mindfully growing it, preserving it, and making it accessible.

A historical fashion pageant with garments from the Dress Collection, early 1960s. Margaret Angus, far left
The Historical

How the Dress Collection Got Started. Trace the Queen’s University Collection of Canadian Dress (Dress Collection) from its early beginnings in the drama department at the university to its present home at Agnes.

Image: Margaret Angus arrived in Kingston in 1937, after her husband William Angus accepted a position teaching drama at Queen’s. She quickly involved herself with many projects, across the city and university, that served a wider mission of preserving Kingston’s history. Enamored with the old limestone buildings and their continued survival, for example, she published books and papers on the subject. The Dress Collection was another similar project, initiated by Angus and cultivated in her care over many years. Margaret Angus, The Old Stones of Kingston: Its Buildings before 1867 (University of Toronto Press, 1966).
Dress Collection Scrapbook

This digital “scrapbook” is composed of archival material collected primarily by Margaret Angus throughout her tenacious journey in establishing the Dress Collection.

Scroll through the scrapbook to learn about the origins of the Dress Collection.

Curated by Sarah Oatley, as part of the Art History Practicum at Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Edited by Alicia Boutilier

Click images to see larger.
Image: Margaret Angus arrived in Kingston in 1937, after her husband William Angus accepted a position teaching drama at Queen’s. She quickly involved herself with many projects, across the city and university, that served a wider mission of preserving Kingston’s history. Enamored with the old limestone buildings and their continued survival, for example, she published books and papers on the subject. The Dress Collection was another similar project, initiated by Angus and cultivated in her care over many years. Margaret Angus, The Old Stones of Kingston: Its Buildings before 1867 (University of Toronto Press, 1966).
Marissa Monette, Textile Conservation Technician and Bernard Clark, Photographer work together to document Agnes's textile collection. Photo: Tim Forbes

The Technical

Patterning historical garments, as well as conserving and mounting them for photography or exhibition, can reveal  much about them. That intimate work of the conservator, patternmaker, dress historian, curator or museum technician in handling garments—turning garments inside out; smoothing, plumping, tying, buttoning; reconstructing their lines and silhouettes—divulges historical techniques of making and histories of wearing. (Like, ah!, that hidden pocket in the teagown.) These processes honour the work of the original makers, many of whom are no longer known and remain unnamed in collections. The technical informs the historical and re-enacts it.

Enduring Fashion

Historical garments are fragile objects, vulnerable to damage from heat, light, pests, improper storage, handling, display and more. Explore why and how we conserve garments.

Dare de LaFemme, Rowena Whey and Tyffanie Morgan showcase their nails done by Funeral Face Nails (@funeralfacenails). Photo: Bernard Clark

The Fabulous

The Scaffolding

Behind every beautiful garment is a system of construction and support. Learn more about the behind-the-scenes, from the toile used to mock up the final product to the undergarments that bolster and uphold the desired silhouette for the wearer.

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Group Chat, Patterns for All Bodies
Group Chat with Dare De LaFemme, Rowena Whey, Tyffanie Morgan and Alicia Boutilier
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Transcript

Group Chat, Patterns for All Bodies
Group Chat with Dare De LaFemme, Rowena Whey, Tyffanie Morgan and Alicia Boutilier
Colouring Pages
Design your own garments with PfAB colouring pages, featuring Tyffanie Morgan, Rowena Whey and Dare de LaFemme!
PfAB Party Mix
Bring the party home with a Spotify playlist inspired by the drag performances of Rowena Whey, Dare de LaFemme and Tyffanie Morgan, as well as the dance party mix by DJ Tigerstylez at the Historical Costume Ball Drag Show Fashion Pageant Spectacular.
Footnotes
Image Credits