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A different take on the Titanic

Curator of new exhibit in Irvine threads a lifelong fascination with the disaster on the high seas with his knowledge of high-class clothes that were in vogue in and around 1912.

April 12, 2012|By Imran Vittachi

He will give a presentation Saturday morning on the history of the pieces and how they might have fit into the context of the Titanic, then lead visitors paying $100 a ticket on a tour of the gallery.

The outfits are in fine condition, thanks to the late Helen Larson. The Los Angeles historian spent 50 years — from 1946 to 1996 — amassing a private collection of 1,100 vintage garments, including some that date back to 1610, which she archived and preserved in her tract home in Whittier, Jones and Johnson said.

FIDM's Fashion Council is trying to acquire the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, valued at $2.5 million.

Saturday's event will be a fundraiser for the campaign, said Mima Ransom, a Newport Beach resident and instructor at FIDM O.C. who founded and chairs the Fashion Council.


"We want the people who will be rallying [around the campaign] to see the pieces and see how exquisite they are," Ransom said.

Through the show, Jones has combined his historical expertise on high fashion with a lifelong fascination of the great White Star Line ship's story.

Had she been a passenger in First Class aboard the Titanic, the woman in Lucile's tea-time gown would have dressed in this type of outfit particularly for that occasion — as she would have done for other occasions during her days on the vessel.

For one, ladies traveling in First Class would have worn "boarding" suits as they crossed the gangplank before the ship departed from Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912. They would have changed into promenading gowns, hats and gloves before strolling along the ship's decks and would have put on an even more glamorous outfit for dinner, Jones and Johnson explained.

"That is what First Class people were used to," Jones said, referring to the luxuriously appointed First Class cabins and common areas. "It was an everyday aspect of their life, and the same thing with their clothing."

Other examples in "adDRESSING Titanic" include a pair of dinner gowns made respectively by Beer and Doucet, two French haute couture designers from the period.

"It's so rare to have a collection of this magnitude and importance that has not been absorbed by other institutions already, so to have the opportunity to acquire this is very exciting for us," Jones said.

Twitter: @ImranVittachi

If You Go

What: "adDRESSING Titanic," a lecture by Kevin Jones on garments that were fashionable around 1912, followed by a tour of a gallery showing women's original ensembles from the period, and a champagne reception

When: 10 a.m. till noon Saturday

Where: FIDM Orange County, 17590 Gillette Ave., Irvine

How much: $100

For tickets: Visit

More information: At other times through August, the public can see the exhibit at no charge. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays and, by appointment, by contacting Jim Nemmert at (949) 851-6200.

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