CDMC Conversation Series with Annette Becker

By Tania Kolarik, PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, UW-Madison

Tania Kolarik will chat with Annette Becker, Director of the Texas Fashion Collection, about her path to becoming the TFC director, the history of the collection, and how she uses it to teach material culture to students.

Image of a woman in a black shirt wearing a conference lanyard opening a manuscript to show someone the interior.
Tania Kolarik working with a manuscript.

This Wednesday, February 10th at noon, I will be in conversation with Annette Becker, the Director of the Texas Fashion Collection (TFC) at the University of North Texas (UNT). Annette and I first met while first year MA students in the Art History program at UNT. It was during our time in the program that her interest in fashion and material culture led to her working within the TFC as a graduate student.

black cocktail dress and jacket on a white mannequin
Cocktail Suit. Hubert de Givenchy. 1963. TFC Accession # 1995.006.001.

Annette gave several of our fellow MA students and I a tour around the collection, highlighting some of her favorite pieces. The collection is vast, but the item that has stayed with me is a Givenchy cocktail suit that Audrey Hepburn wore in her 1963 movie Charade, where she co-starred alongside Cary Grant and James Coburn. As a fan of Audrey Hepburn movies, my favorite being the 1957 Funny Face, it was fascinating to tangibly experience an outfit she wore and in which lived; it provided a slim connection to her as a person.

The ability of clothing and textiles to provide connections to people who lived in the past influences my own research on late medieval textiles and their representation within the art and architecture of fourteenth-century Italy. Surviving outfits, especially if they are represented on life-size mannequins, have the potential to show that people in the past, whether sixty years ago or six hundred years ago, were not all that much different. I hope that you will join our conversation as we discuss the path Annette took to becoming the director of the TFC, the history of the collection and its objects that span 250 years of fashion history, and how these items are used to teach students of material culture today.

Watch past CDMC Conversations and plan for our upcoming events.