Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fancy Fashion at Lougheed House

My most recent visit to Lougheed House was a reminder that I don't visit enough. The last time I visited there was an art association in the basement and it has been a few years since they left! Lougheed House is really a local treasure. It's hard to imagine that it marked the edge of Calgary when it was built in 1891. It's actually remarkable that the grounds and house are still preserved. Locals know how Calgary is always in a constant state of construction.

Mom and I visited recently to catch the 1920s "Daring Deco" fashion show. I really enjoyed it because the dresses were once owned by Alberta women and it represented my great-grandmother and grandmother's era. I only have a few pictures of my great-grandmother, so to imagine that she may have once worn such fancy clothes was pretty cool. The 1920s don't really get a lot of appreciation - anything beyond 1950 is thought of as dull and bland sometimes. There were all sorts of exciting things happening such as new textiles, new music and new freedoms for women.

Textiles and clothing tell a silent, but ever present version of history. We wear clothes every day and special clothes for special occasions. Clothing conveys social status and wealth or personal history. Memories are stored in them. Studying clothes is more than meets the eye!

It took me a few moments to realize that the dresses were about 100 years old. That in itself is an amazing fact. Textiles aren't very good at surviving the ages. Pests, disaster, climate and poor storage all count against fabric. Natural fibres naturally degrade and wear and synthetic materials have an end of life too. As a fibre major, I was thrilled to see a sample book of fabric to touch. Fabric is so very tactile and taken for granted. Some of the fabrics felt scratchy, but other ones were very plush and smooth.

Back to the house however - unlike some historic houses where the building and belongings pass from family to trust, Lougheed House had many lives as a women's military barracks and blood donor clinic, so the museum is in the process of repatriation. This isn't a disadvantage at all though - one can still enjoy admiring the architecture and decorations in the house like the stained glass windows and ornate ceilings. It's a lovely place to have a wedding or event, and yes, the staff can help you out with that :-)

The gardens are lovely to visit starting after the May long weekend, but there was much and even during autumn there was much to admire such as ornamental cabbages, rudbeckia and sweet Williams. Our main reason for visiting was to catch the 1920s fashion show - I will be sure to keep abreast of the events at Lougheed House in the future though. And I must return next summer and get some more iris photos.

The conservatory has been turned into a restaurant that is open for lunch on weekdays and brunch on weekends.  It was delightful to have a cup of tea from a vintage tea cup :)

Mom and I finished our visit with brunch in the restaurant that used to be the conservatory. It was so dainty to have tea from a vintage tea cup and the staff were kind to let Mom and I split a bacon and waffle breakfast (otherwise it would have been too much food for her). The brunch has a good variety of meals along with a feature dish. The restaurant staff were fabulous and friendly. It's a good place to take small groups or friends. If you visit Lougheed House, check out some reviews on TripAdvisor and remember to show your AMA card and save on admission.

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