Thursday, May 24 , 2018, 5:21 am | Overcast 58º

 
 
 
 

Judy Foreman: Costume Council Gives Starring Role to Silent Movie-Era Fashion

Through lens of Flying A Studios, Santa Barbara Historical Museum shows off its freshly refurbished collection of costumes and textiles

 

The June day may have been gray, but the atmosphere was warm and bright in the historic Covarrubias Adobe at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum as guests gathered for a special luncheon and lecture.

More than 40 people attended the recent event, sponsored by the Costume Council, which helps fund the conservation and exhibition of the museum’s vast collection of historical costumes and textiles.

A long-running environmental remediation project has focused on cleaning, re-storage and relocation of the textiles, most of which are kept in the museum’s basement and are susceptible to mold. The project was managed by a professional team that included Belfor Restoration, two of the top conservators in the world, and museum staff and volunteers.

Guests were welcomed by Costume Council co-chairwomen Nancy Hunter and Cheryl Ziegler, along with museum director Lynn Brittner, board president Sharon Bradford and trustees Betsy Jones and April Walstad.

Among the council members in attendance were Melissa Dvorak, Sally Enthoven, Joanie Jackson, Jann Jaffe, Joanna Kerns, Betsey Moller, Françoise Park, April Riessen, Eleanor Van Cott, Dody Waugh, Patty Weber and Cici Williams.

A special guest was Beverley Jackson, the doyenne of Santa Barbara’s social scene, an author, photojournalist, art collector, textile scholar and none other than the co-founder of the Costume Council.

With the help of a black-and-white PowerPoint presentation, historian Neal Graffy regaled his audience with stories of Santa Barbara’s era of silent filmmaking.

While many locals are aware that Flying A Studios once called our town home, most don’t know that Santa Barbara was the center of the moviemaking world between 1912 and 1921. The Chicago-based American Film Manufacturing Co. opened the largest production facility in the country here: the prolific Flying A Studios, whose distinctive winged logo was affixed to more than 1,200 films — a staggering number.

Graffy, author of A Murder at the Potter Hotel and several other leading historical books about Santa Barbara, provided humorous and entertaining anecdotal stories about the films, and the actors, producers, directors and cameramen who produced them.

Graffy was followed by Kara McLeod, a costume historian, designer and professor at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. Using some of the costumes on display and others depicted in Graffy’s PowerPoint, she explained the fashion silhouettes and challenges they presented for young actresses in the early 1900s.

After an luncheon catered by the Catering Connection, guests were invited to tour the museum. Many historical costumes are housed in the permanent collection, and all are in pristine condition.

I took a tour of the new Edward Borein Gallery, which opened in May and houses a robust collection of the acclaimed Western artist’s work. In 1921, Edward Borein and his wife, Lucille Maxwell, moved to Santa Barbara, from where he chronicled life in the New West until his death in 1945 at age 73.

The Borein collection was created by museum trustees Marlene and Warren Miller and is sponsored by a large group of benefactors and collectors.

The newly remodeled gallery features traditional wooden lentils, copper plates, and colorful paintings of Indians, cowboys and vaqueros in a throwback to California’s historic eras. Works from Borein’s home and old El Paseo studio are displayed, along with photographs of his life and even three miniature saddles he created.

“I hope that more locals and tourists visit the museum so that they can enjoy all the renovations and learn more about the colorful history of Santa Barbara’s historic artists and founding families,” Jones said.

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is located at 136 E. De la Guerra St. Click here for more information about the Costume Council, or click here for more information about the museum. Click here to make an online donation.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Patricia Griffin
Patricia Griffin
"I am very hands on and feel that each transaction is special and different. My clients goals are foremost in what I do to bring about a successful transaction."

Full Profile >