All The Rage

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[Updated] 'Fashioning Fashion' and the Assistance League

February 16, 2011 |  7:12 pm

Members of the Assistance League In commemoration of Founders Day at the Assistance League of Southern California, the league’s Anne Banning Auxiliary welcomed 120 guests to lunch at ALSC headquarters in Hollywood. On the program: a lesson in evolving body images as seen in the current exhibition, "Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Before there were silicone implants, collagen injections and liposuction, there were bustles, corsets, and bust enhancers," said Karla Ahmanson, luncheon co-chair along with Lynn Leipzig. "They were not for comfort, but for style."

In fact, on taking the podium, guest speaker Sharon Takeda called some methods torture. Takeda is LACMA’s senior curator at the Costume and Textiles Department.

"Even in the 18th century, women were never pleased with their natural bodies," Takeda said, as she flashed slides that took guests on a time trip via undergarments that boosted bottoms, billowed out hips, pulled in waists and flattened, pushed up or popped out bosoms. Using Georges Seurat’s famous painting, "A Sunday on la Grande Jatte" she showed examples of the 1880s "shelf" bustle, some being "so flat, you can put a book on top," she said.

Not that men were immune to taking liberties with reality. Takeda pointed out an 1840s English waistcoat with removable pads for poufing out the chest.

ALSC provides social services for families, seniors and children. The Anne Banning auxiliary, named for the league’s founder, runs Operation School Bell, which helps keep children in school by giving them uniforms, shoes and other clothing and necessities.

Chapter President Andy Goodman, ALSC president Wendy Overmire and past ALSC presidents Judy Kloner, Cynthia Ardell, Peggy Hemmings and Sally Hinckley attended the Feb. 15 event.

-- Ellen Olivier

Photo, from left:

Lynn Leipzig, Karla Ahmanson and Sharon Takeda, LACMA's senior curator at the Textile and Costumes Department. Credit: Janet Harrison

[For the record at 11:30 a.m., Feb. 18: An earlier version of this post stated in the caption that pictured are from left, Lynn Leipzig, Sharon Takeda and karla Ahmanson. From left it is Lynn Leipzig, Karla Ahmanson and Sharon Takeda.]