The MOV’s current temporary exhibition, From Rationing to Ravishing: The Transformation of Women’s Clothing in the 1940s and 1950s, draws from the private collections of fashion historians Ivan Sayers and Claus Jahnke. In its collection, MOV also has a large amount of fashion related artifacts, and while very few of them are seen in From Rationing to Ravishing, a great number of them are now available on the MOV’s online collections database, openMOV.
Over the past 6 months, with financial aid from the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s BC History Digitization Program, MOV staff have digitized over 2400 accessories from this collection of fashionable artifacts, including hats, shoes, handkerchiefs, fans, and jewellery.
To view all of the artifacts digitized in this project, search the keyword phrase BC Digitization 2014 on openMOV. Here, though, we share a few artifacts that would fit in perfectly with the stunning pieces featured in From Rationing to Ravishing, as well as the stories of the women to whom they belonged.
Pink skullcap hat with black braid, c. 1955-1965: H984.128.11
Donor: Estate of Mrs. Iby Koerner
Born to Hungarian-Jewish parents in 1899, Ibolya (Iby) Koerner became actively involved in community life in Vancouver after arriving with her husband and daughter shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.
During the war years, Mrs. Koerner was an active volunteer at the Shaughnessy Hospital Red Cross Lodge, as well as a member of the Vancouver Art Gallery Women’s Auxiliary Committee. After the war, she served on the board of the Community Arts Council, later becoming heavily involved with the Vancouver International Festival and the Community Music School, now the Vancouver Academy of Music.
After her death in 1983, a donation of clothing and accessories was made by her estate to the Museum, including this hat. It is representative of the variety of hats Mrs. Koerner would have worn to various charity and cocktail funtions.
Navy straw picture hat, c. 1948-1955: H985.33.10
Donor: Miss Nora Nedden
Purchased in Vancouver sometime between 1948 and 1955, this hat belong to Miss Nora Nedden. Miss Nedden was born in England in 1903 and educated at a convent in Ireland. She came to Vancouver in the late 1910s to live with an aunt and uncle, Captain and Mrs. Nedden and remained in Vancouver for the rest of her life, save during the Second World War when she served with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in the RAF.
Miss Nedden was a noted South Vancouver socialite, active in the Southlands Riding Club and in charitable organizations such as the Alliance Française, CNIB, and St. John’s Anglican Church.
Royal Canadian Air Force handkerchief and mailer, c. 1940-1945: H980.62.2
Donor: Miss Jane Rittenhouse
During the Second World War, Jane Rittenhouse joined the WRENS (Women’s Royal Navy Service), working mostly as a supply clerk in Halifax. After working a variety of jobs in Toronto after the war, Ms. Rittenhouse moved to Vancouver, where she began an active volunteer career, working largely within Kitsilano.
For some time, she spent more hours than a full-time work week working on volunteer activities with organizations such as the Kitsilano Neighbourhood Association. She served on the Local Area Planning Committee, the Community Resources Board, and the Parents Book Committee, among others, bringing her expertise to numerous projects such as the development of local day care centres, seniors’ activities, and the production of a Roger's Cable documentary.
It’s likely this handkerchief was one of many mass produced for fundraising purposes. It would have been folded into the mailer and sent to those deployed in service overseas.
Flower shaped brooch, c. 1950s: H997.26.28
Donor: Ms. Sonya Kraemer
From a very early age, Sonja Kraemer adored jewellery, for she saw it as a means to feeling beautiful and being accepted by others. Born in Vancouver in 1958, she moved with her family to rural Richmond when she was six years old. Her mother came from a middle-class family in Germany where the proper clothes and the right appearance and image were very important.
Kraemer was in her early teens, c. 1968-1972, when she began to purchase jewellery for herself; her first purchase was at Woodward's. Between the years of 1980 and 1981, Kraemer worked in a curio shop, "Aleksandra's" where she took jewelry in lieu of a salary until she became a sales clerk. "Aleksandra's" was at 312 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, until it closed in 1981. Most of the jewelry in this collection came from Aleksandra's.
This brooch features rhinestones with an “aurora borealis” treatment, so called because it gives the stones an iridescent quality similar to the Northern Lights. The treatment was introduced by Swarovski in 1955 and became a very popular trend in 1950s costume jewellery.
MOV wishes again to thank the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s BC History Digitization Program; without their financial support, this project would not have been possible.