The Riviera quilt
1995
Nan Tournier

In 1995, The Gibbes Museum of Art mounted an exhibition of contemporary quilts and wall hangings based on a collaboration of quilters and architects. Nan Tournier, local quilter and quilt teacher at the time, teamed up with architect Anne Maguire for this wall hanging depicting the Riviera Theater at 225 King Street, Charleston. The fabrics relate to the colors, patterns and textures of the mosaic terrazzo floor of the entrance; the appliqué and quilting mimic the ironwork of the doors and vestibule. The quilt is cotton with metallic embellishments, machine pieced, appliquéd and quilted. The backing is black printed cotton. This quilt will be on exhibit in Quintessential Quilts until early October.

The Riviera opened on January 15, 1939, built on the site of the demolished Academy of Music. This amazing Art Deco (or classic modern as it was called then) building closed in 1977, and after a number of attempts and plans for new uses, it now is a conference center and retail space operated by the Charleston Place hotel. This link is to a history of this amazing structure – now immortalized as a quilt too. Some details of the theater are captured here.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

This fabulous silk crepe evening gown from 1931 is glamorous and elegant. The supple silk crepe fabric was one of the most popular choices for evening wear – it drapes and clings beautifully. The cowl neck in front is created by soft shoulder pleats and there is a small metal weight encased in silk that hangs about an inch from the center front. The back is cut deeper for maximum visual effect while dancing “cheek to cheek” and the shoulder drape adds a bit of panache. The softly flared skirt has a bias cut peplum and slits around the bottom hem. A narrow silk belt fastens with a beautiful Art Deco buckle of ivory and gemstones. The dress has a side opening that closes with tiny snaps.

This beauty was worn by Ruth Petty Pringle after her marriage to Willis Benton Pipkin in Charleston in 1931. She purchased this dress, along with most of her other trousseau items, in New York. They then lived in Reidsville (near Greensboro), NC. Ruth was born in 1910, the daughter of Ashmead Forrester Pringle and Agnes Petty of Charleston.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

This printed rayon day dress probably dates to the late 1930s. The cross-over front bodice was a popular style as was the slender skirt and short sleeves. The huge plastic buttons add a bit of Art Deco panache to this attractive garment. The left side has a metal zipper, a fairly common closure at this time. Zippers aren’t seen much in dresses until the late 1930s and in the ‘40s tend to be replaced by other closures, conserving on metal for the war effort.

Our stylish dress was worn by Ruth Holmes Gadsden of Summerville. She was an active part of the social scene in the 1930s and 1940s.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Light green satin evening dress, c. 1932. This stylish gown with a magnificent Art Deco design rhinestone ornamentation on the back was worn by the donor’s sister, Eleanor Middleton Rutledge Hanson (1894-1966) for her second court visit at Buckingham Palace in 1932. There is a matching shoulder cape.

Eleanor met Annapolis graduate Ralph Trowbridge Hanson at the Charleston Navy Yards and married him in 1915. His Naval service took him to many posts, including London where he served at the assistant naval attaché at the American Embassy. While in England, the Hansons were commanded to appear twice at the Court of St. James while Andrew W. Mellon was the American Ambassador.

This dress is currently on exhibit in Charleston Couture. Come visit it for yourself!

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Black and white silk parasol with wooden handle and ferule and ivory rib tips, c. 1924, owned by Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902-2000). In 1924, the long, thin umbrellas and parasols of the previous decades were replaced by short stubby models. The new parasol had a thick handle, rib tips, and stub end (ferule) of wood, ebony, ivory, horn, Bakelite or celluloid. The shape and size of this parasol, along with the materials and its Art Deco-feeling design motifs place it clearly in 1920s fashion.

The acceptance of the sun tan for fashionable women was the death knell for the parasol. However, they were still used for sun protection at garden parties, seaside visits and as late as 1936, parasols in ivory and black were still being designed for Ascot.

Gertrude Legendre (see her on her book cover w/in this posting) was married in 1929. Born in Aiken, SC, she came from the wealthy and socialite Sanford family and traveled around the world with her husband, even on African safaris. It is said that Gertrude was the inspiration for Philip Barry’s 1929 play Holiday and the 1938 film with Katharine Hepburn & Cary Grant. For more information about the fascinating life of Gertrude Legendre (a spy with OSS, big game hunter, etc), see her New York Times obituary and this Forbes magazine posting about her Charleston home, Medway Plantation.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday