Fashion weekend: Sinking ships and Betsy Bloomingdale

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The Sidney D. Gamble Lecture Series opens its 2009-2010 season tomorrow with two fashion-oriented engagements.

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    At 10 a.m., Kevin Jones — curator of the museum at downtown’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising — will speak at Art Center College of Design on “adDRESSING Titanic: Appearance and Identity in 1912.”

The lecture explores the four categories of passengers on the ill-fated ship: first class, second class, steerage and crew. The Titanic is known to have carried some of the day’s illustrious figures of fashion, from those in high society to industry trade to journalists.

Like their wearers, some garments survived the journey, while others were recovered from the site of the wreckage.

  • Jones will also lead a 1 p.m. tour at the FIDM Museum of an exhibit he curated: “High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture.”

Fashion icon and socialite Betsy Bloomingdale, widow of Alfred P. Bloomingdale — heir to Bloomingdale’s department stores and founder of Diners Club credit cards — donated 125 haute couture garments to the museum over 30 years.

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Her French couture wardrobe, purchased from 1961 to 1996, includes designs by Marc Bohan and Gianfranco Ferr for Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent and Andr Courrges, along with ready-to-wear by James Galanos, Adolfo Sardina, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino Garavani.

Sixty ensembles are on display, showcasing Bloomingdale’s favorite designers, her personal style and life. Colored sketches, fabric swatches, contemporary photographs and magazine layouts accompany the garments.

Forget cotton; This is the fabric of a life. (Stunning photo gallery of just a handful of gowns below)

Titanic lecture: 10 a.m., Art Center, Ahmanson Auditorium, 1700 Lida St., Pasadena. Tickets.

Bloomingdale tour: 1 p.m., suggested donation: $35 general admission, FIDM Museum & Galleries, Grand Hope Park, 1st Level, 919 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles.

Red evening gown of silk crpe and organza adorned with flowers.
Autumn/Winter 1989-90. Gianfranco Ferr for Dior.
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Silk gazar, dramatic bow-evening gown.
Spring/Summer 1983. Marc Bohan for Dior.
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Gown of polka dot, printed silk charmeuse with black cotton lace and snakeskin trim.
Spring/Summer 1982. Marc Bohan for Dior.
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Black iridescent coq feathers and silk chiffon crepe dress.
1985. Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.
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(Photos courtesy Brian Sanderson, FIDM Photography; and Friends of The Gamble House)

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