New exhibit to explore Swedish fashion at Nordic Heritage Museum

In September, the Nordic Heritage Museum will host the exhibition “Dressing Swedish: From Hazelius to Salander,” which explore the relationship between fashion and traditional folk costumes. The exhibit will run from Sept. 12 to Nov. 10.


Photo courtesy Nordic Heritage Museum

From the Nordic Heritage Museum:

Garments, fabric, and designs are used to create complex family trees, erase time periods, and articulate multiple places of belonging. Through displays featuring costumes both traditional and re-created by contemporary designers, along with new urban dress from Sámi and Swedish designers, the exhibition will tackle the notion of what it means to “dress Swedish” and how this has developed over time.

Pieces from the Nordic Heritage Museum permanent collection, such as Swedish folk costumes, Ballard bunads, and textile artifacts, will also accompany the exhibition. In addition, local members of the Swedish community will showcase outfits that reflect individual and contemporary ways of dressing Swedish, and Svenska Skolan (Seattle’s Swedish School for children) will show off Pippi Longstocking costumes.

Fashion and folk costumes have always overlapped, and traces of older fashion styles can also be found in folk costume designs. In 1872, Artur Hazelius, founder of Nordiska museet in Stockholm, observed how modern fashion had increasingly begun to replace the folk costume. The large-scale collecting and documentation effort gathered momentum in cultural history museums, powered by a desire to preserve folk culture for posterity.

The more modern fashion that is explored in the exhibit includes the icon Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy series. Salander’s style in the films inspired H&M’s Dragon Tattoo Collection by Trish Summerville.

The exhibit was produced for House of Sweden in Washington D.C. by co-curators Dr. Charlotte Hylten-Cavallius, Multicultural Society, Tumba, and Dr. Lizette Gradén, Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle, with support from Multicultural Society, Svenska Institutet, Kulturrådet.

Learn more about the upcoming exhibit here.

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