In 2019, the Engagement Team experimented with lots of different programming formats to spice up our public offerings. Of all our very successful events, the one we constantly get asked about over and over again is WARdrobe: An Evening of WWII Vintage Fashions. The March event, which was a unique collaboration between the Education, Entertainment, Collections, Curatorial, and Retail departments of the Museum, celebrated the frocks, dresses, uniforms, and couture of the World War II.
The National WWII Museum’s collection contains more than 250,000 objects that help us to understand and interpret aspects of the American experience of World War II. Included in the collection are many pieces that were used, worn, or carried during the war—some pieces were fashionable, some functional, and some both. The Museum has acquired military and civilian uniforms of all types and sizes, as well as a Museum “closet-full” of garments: costumes worn by entertainers, children’s sailor suits, grass skirts, and clothing, including wedding dresses sewn from the only silk available—parachutes.
But to pull off such a new kind of event for us, we needed to get in touch with the experts—and that’s how the Engagement team got in contact with New Orleans Fashion Week. Putting on over 50 runway shows during a five-day event, New Orleans Fashion Week serves as a platform for Southern designers, makeup artists, hair stylists, and models to bring a new level of creative consciousness to the regional industry. The result was a mix of history, fashion, and fun that has left our audiences asking weekly “when is this happening again?!”
Tracee Dundas, founder of New Orleans Fashion Week, had this to say about our partnership:
"As the appreciation for fashion in the Gulf Coast region continues to make its mark regionally and nationally, New Orleans Fashion Week's goal is highlighting all genres of fashion. The opportunity to partner with The National WWII Museum to host WARdrobe, a fashion presentation showcasing 1940's fashions with a modern twist was an invaluable experience to fuse fashion and history. Guests shared the same sentiment equally impressed with both the entertainment and educational components. The event exceeded our expectations proving once again that fashion is timeless."
For the Museum, WARdrobe proved, once again, that we can do anything when we have the collaborators in the room with us.
Vintage inspired brands included in the show are: Barbour, Unique Vintage, Emily and Fin, Matty M, Heart of Haute, Mikarose, Steady, Compania Fantastica, and Chelsea Crew Shoes.
For more information on the ways we work with and within the Greater New Orleans Area, check out our Community Engagement webpage.
Amber N. Mitchell is the former Assistant Director of Public Engagement at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA, where she led the public programs and community engagement team in their efforts to create innovative public programs for a variety of audiences, as well as purposeful relationship building within the Greater New Orleans area.