House of Worth, c. 1890
This dinner dress by Worth was conserved by a generous donation from Barbara Brown-Ruttenberg and her daughters Jennifer and Courtney Brown.
Textile conservation is necessary for the preservation of historic costume. Conservation literally conserves what is already in existence and prevents further damage in the future. Textiles are fragile by nature and are further compromised when exposed to the natural oils and acids of the skin. Textiles are further weakened by environmental conditions such as humidity and light.
Preventative conservation, which emphasizes proper handling, storage, and display, is essential to the successful preservation of costume and textiles. While preventative conservation is the best method for preventing damage, conservation treatments are sometimes necessary to stabilize objects that are already damaged. These treatments may include cleaning, stabilization and compensation for loss. Silk textiles from the early 20th century are particularly fragile. Dresses from this period are frequently damaged under the arms and may be conserved with an overlay of fine crepaline silk.
Jeanne Lanvin, 1929
House of Worth, 1914
Jeanne Lanvin, c. 1922
Additional examples of evening dresses from the DHCC which have been conserved through donor contributions.