Oh, my Bonnets and Bustles!
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It may be unusual to start a report about a fashion show with a brief look at the history of fashion shows, but since this particular one took place at a museum it seems acceptable.

The early history of fashion shows is obscure. No petroglyphs or ancient scrolls hint at such events taking place in caves or at ceremonial sites. It can be safely assumed that aristocracy enjoyed such presentations since the dawn of civilization. Common folks, however, devoted their attention to more pressing concerns like making ends meet, and didn't develop a taste for fashion until well after the French Revolution.

In the 19th Century, "fashion parades" were held periodically in the salons of Parisian custom tailors for the newly emerging bourgeoisie, the class that replaced and imitated the country's eliminated aristocracy in one of the rare working instances of the trickle-down effect.

But is wasn't until 1903 that fashion shows arrived in the United States, when the New York store Ehrlich Brothers held the first one of these events. Seven years later they were a frequent spectacle at large department stores in the New York and Philadelphia areas, and by the 1920s their conquest of the whole country - east to west - was completed.

Retailers would often arrange them theatrically, presented with narratives and organized around a theme. They were very popular and attracted large crowds of customers and even larger crowds of gawkers.

The "Oh, my Bonnets and Bustles!" 19th Century fashion show, presented by the Friends of the Nevada State Museum and attended by about 100 interested spectators, employed this concept as well. After an initial demonstration of

 

the complicated, time consuming and assistance requiring dressing procedure by Paulette Grune, models would re-enact every day scenarios of the Victorian Era.

During this era woman were perceived as having only two functions; to bear children and to represent. Both could be deadly and actually did occupy, respectively, the number one and two cause of death spots for women at that time. The number two spot for fashions needs some explaining, though.

These garments were anything but comfortable. In fact, the phrase "beauty knows no pain" may have been coined in those days. Every seam in every article of clothing had

 
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