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Museum exhibitions


Costume, dress and fashion related exhibitions for spring 2016

There’s a fantastic range of fashion exhibitions on show in Toronto and Ontario this spring!


Royal Ontario Museum 

¡Viva México! Clothing and Culture, until May 23, 2016

Textiles are a vibrant expression of Mexico’s enduring cultural legacy. Continually evolving, they combine remarkable technical skill with exquisite artistry, and reflect the diversity and achievements of Mexico’s many civilizations over thousands of years.

From the distinct dress of Mexico’s indigenous peoples (the Maya, Zapotec, Aztec, and other cultures), through the European influence after the Spanish Conquest of 1521, to contemporary Mexican fashion and textiles, ¡Viva Mexico! showcases the dynamic fusion of indigenous and colonial histories with the living traditions of 21st century Mexico.

Over 150 stunning historic and contemporary pieces are on display in this engaging exhibition, including complete costume ensembles, sarapes, rebozos, textiles, embroidery, beadwork and more.

The ROM has one of the largest and important collections of Mexican textiles in the world, and we’re taking over an entire gallery to show it off. From the iconic to the innovative, ¡Viva México! explodes with colour, regional diversity, and bold Mexican style!

Born of the Indian Ocean: the Silks of Madagascar

The Royal Ontario Museum is home to one of the world’s best collections of silks from highland Madagascar, gathered under the curatorial expertise of Dr. Sarah Fee of ROM Textiles & Fashions. This exhibit takes advantage of this unparalleled collection to explore wildly coloured and patterned 19th-century wraps known as akotifahana. Great works of art, these cloths also had great ceremonial value. The exhibition presents Dr. Fee’s new research into their recent roots in the Indian Ocean… and beyond.

Bata Shoe Museum

Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th century, until June 2016

Transport yourself back to the 19th century where beautiful outfits fashioned by seamstresses and shoemakers supplied the privileged with enviable ensembles. Swathed from head to toe in expensive garments and shod in delicate footwear, fashion-forward women graced the boulevards and the ballrooms with their colourful presence. Their tailored male companions cut equally refined figures in their black coats, spotless white linens, lustrous top hats and shiny boots. Yet presenting an elegant exterior was not without its perils. The discomfort of constricting corsets and impossibly narrow footwear was matched by the dangers of wearing articles of fashion dyed with poison-laced colours and made of highly flammable materials.

Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, until June 2016

Standing Tall will challenge preconceived notions about who wears heels and why. From privileged rulers to hyper-sexualized rock stars this provocative exhibition will explore the history of men in heels from the early 1600s to today, delving into the use and meanings of heeled footwear in men’s dress over the last four hundred years.

Textile Museum

Lyn Carter: 11th Line, October 21, 2015 – March 20, 2016

The Textile Museum of Canada is pleased to present Lyn Carter: 11th Line, featuring new site specific work by the senior Canadian artist. Throughout her practice, artist Lyn Carter has transformed intricate textile surfaces into fantastic sculptural installations and patterned architectural forms inspired by simple everyday objects. In 11th Line, Carter moves beyond domestic space to investigate an expanded personal topography. Titled after the name of the rural road the artist lives on, the exhibition explores the poetics of place and personal meaning, tracing daily trajectories through familiar terrain in forms invested with concrete autobiographical references and the abstract qualities of pattern play.

Eutopia, February 24, 2016 – May 29, 2016

Alongside socio-politically charged textiles from the Textile Museum of Canada collection, Eutopia features contemporary Canadian artists who are known for reaching beyond the confines of the gallery to directly engage communities. Working locally and globally, with elements of playfulness as well as deep cultural critique, they ask audiences to consider a multiplicity of perspectives across complex issues such as gender identities, contested political terrain, and racial oppression to express their own unique eutopia. Past to present, the ideas and impulses presented in the exhibition are not static, but constantly evolving.

Black Creek Pioneer Village

Sporting Canadians: 150 Years of Sports Fashion

Explore some of the earliest examples of sportswear on loan from the Fashion History Museum! Learn how 19th century sporting fashions evolved from fashionable clothing that allowed for freer movement to sport-specific fashions in the early 20th century. From golf to skating and mountain climbing to swimming, see how sporting styles have changed over the last 150 years as society has become more active.


Fashion History Museum

The FHM is located in the old post office of the former town of Hespeler at 74 Queen Street East, Cambridge, Ontario, and can be reached from the 401 via the Townline or Hespeler road exits.  Starting July 1, the museum will be open regular hours Wednesday – Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Tours can be booked by appointment.  Museum gallery phone 519 654-0009

To Meet the Queen,  March 12 – May 29

Includes a dress worn to the Prince of Wales Ball in London (Canada West – now Ontario), 1860, two 1920s presentation gowns from the 1920s, and a gold lame evening gown reportedly worn to a dinner given in Montreal in honour of the visiting King George and Queen Elizabeth in 1939.


Guelph Museums

Lucile: Fashion. Titantic. Scandal, May 7 – November 13,  2016

She came from Guelph. She dazzled the world. She survived the Titanic. Meet Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, the fashionista of her day – inventor of the fashion show, creator of respectable scanty lingerie, and designer to the rich and famous. For the first time ever in Canada, see Lucile gowns, lingerie and accessories on loan from museums and private collections from around the world.


Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre

The Art of the Hat, until March 2016

Hats can be such simple constructions or incredible works of sculpture. Hats from the Speir’s collection and the Museum’s permanent collection showcase the beauty, workmanship and history of millinery as both a craft and form of expression. This exhibit offers an exciting view into the fashionable lives of Ontario women in the twentieth century.