Vintage clothing exhibit celebrates local families, book by NSU author

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As part of the Northwestern State University’s School of Creative and Performing Arts’ 30th anniversary, the Orville Hanchey Art Gallery will present an exhibit of vintage garments from the book, “Forties and Fifties Fashion for the Stage” by Jessica Parr, professor costume design

A reception and book signing will be held from 4-6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 in the Gallery. The exhibition will continue through Feb. 22.

Parr was inspired to write the book by two generous vintage clothing donations from the Hogg and Luster families.  The collection of Becky Bill Page Luster spans the 1940s and 1950s while the collection of Thelma Louise Firestone Hogg includes garments from the 50s through the 70s.

“Each of these collections is a treasure in fabric,” Parr said. “From the moment these collections hit the costume shop, I knew they contained a book waiting to be written. It is rare to receive such large and complete donations from these eras especially from a single individual.  Each of these family matriarchs dressed to the nines; their style and flare can be seen throughout the exhibit.”

Parr noted it was difficult to choose which garments to include in the book.

“Each is beautiful and uniquely detailed.”

Many garments were made by Thelma Louise Firestone Hogg’s mother, a talented Atlanta dressmaker.  Many of these dresses continue to be worn by family and friends for special occasions. Great granddaughter Sophia Hogg will wear one such gown for the reception.

In addition to charming dresses, the exhibit features hats on loan from the Hogg and Luster family’s private collections.

Parr’s research for “Forties and Fifties Fashion for the Stagelead her to the University’s yearbook, The Potpourri.  Many of The Potpourri’s photographs are displayed in the exhibit and throughout the book.  Each of these photographs depicts real people wearing real outfits to real events.  Parr was excited to find so much valuable research from a local source.

“It’s a costume historian’s dream.  It was fascinating to see how Northwestern embraced the war effort in the 40s and blossomed in the 50s as the GI Bill enabled veterans to attend college.”

This exhibit coincides with the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum’s exhibit on Louisiana’s role in World War II – The Pelican State Goes to War.  History buffs can enjoy both receptions February 1 at 4 p.m. at the Hanchey Gallery and the Sports Hall of Fame from 5-8 p.m.

Orville Hanchey Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-noon Friday.  For more information, contact Parr at parrj@nsula.edu