The Newport Historical Society this week announced that it has partnered with the Audrain  Automobile Museum to offer a joint exhibit focusing on the evolution of fashion from the height of the  Gilded Age to the beginning of the modern era. The exhibit is now featured at the Newport Historical  Society at 82 Touro Street, and the Audrain Museum at 222 Bellevue Avenue.

In this multi-site exhibit, curator Rebecca Kelly, in collaboration with the Audrain team at that site,  examines a previously unknown collection of clothing and accessories belonging to three Vanderbilt  women of New York and Newport: Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt and her daughters Gertrude Vanderbilt  Whitney and Gladys Moore Vanderbilt Széchényi.  

The exhibit focuses on the lives of the women in a changing world, as expressed through their choices for shopping and fashion. It also brings to light American consumerism during the first world war, and the evolution of the industry as women began to enter the workforce and embrace social independence,  including the mobility that driving provided.  

Photo from the exhibit. Provided by Newport Historical Society.

The exhibit also focuses on the interlocking trades, and avenues for creativity that supplied American  women with the opportunity to be fashionable. Designers, dressers, fabric and lace makers and  entrepreneurs contributed to what was, and in many ways still is, an elaborate economic web. Women  played a role here, at all walks of life, both as producers and consumers.  

The first segment of the exhibit, The World in Motion: Vanderbilt Style, is at the NHS. Here, the focus is  on Alice Vanderbilt and her daughters in the turn of the twentieth century. 

Photo from the exhibit. Provided by Newport Historical Society.

In Women Take the Wheel: Fashion, Modernity, and the Automobile at the Audrain, curator David de  Muzio and the Audrain team enhance the story of early 20th century shopping at local, Newport retailers  with early automobiles with Newport history. Here, the story includes women driving and being driven,  and the effect automobiles had on women’s fashion.  

The twelve automobiles on view will include a 1904 Mercedes 30 hp, Elizabeth Cunningham’s 1910  Rauch & Lang electric, Doris Duke’s 1938 Packard Twelve Landaulet, and Countess Széchényi’s 1941  Cadillac Series 67 Fleetwood limousine.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).