A glittering Thai temple dancer's costume and a burqa from Afghanistan are among the 27 traditional women's outfits from northern Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific recently received by the Texas Fashion Collection at UNT in the College of Visual Arts and Design.
The donation from collector and former Pan Am flight attendant Joy Losee dramatically expands the Texas Fashion Collection's holdings of non-western traditional cultural garments, says Myra Walker, director of the Texas Fashion Collection. A few of the highlights of Losee's donation include: an extraordinary set of Nubian dresses, complete with veil and accessories; Middle Eastern abayas; and a Turkish caftan.
"The importance of this gift is that from Joy Losee's viewpoint, she strives to collect all parts of the costumes from head to toe," Walker says. "This attention to detail provides greater insight for study than having only parts and pieces."
With more than 18,000 items, the Texas Fashion Collection mainly consists of American and western European high-end fashion garments of the later 20th and early 21st centuries.
"We are honored that Joy Losee chose the Texas Fashion Collection as the home for her global costume collection," Walker says. "More than ever, there is a need for us to have a greater understanding of world cultures."
Losee's gift will greatly expand the holdings in those areas, giving students and visitors the opportunity to see different types of garments and gain an understanding of the style and lives of the women who wear them. The burqa, for example, was obtained by Losee through the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
Losee, who grew up in Asheville, N.C., is now a Gainesville, Ga., resident who spends her summers in Colorado. She gathered many of the garments while visiting markets in Guatemala, Mexico, Egypt, India, Japan, the Philippines and other countries during her travels. Other items were gifts from friends and family or purchased from collectors. Since she began collecting more than 30 years ago, she has amassed more than 50 garments from five continents.
"The clothes that women wear tell volumes about their culture and customs," Losee says. "It has always been my wish that the collection be used for cultural and educational purposes. UNT has one of the largest fashion collections in the country. I am thrilled that these costumes will be used for cultural and educational purposes in the fashion design program at UNT, and that they will be preserved for others to enjoy well into the future."
The Joy Losee collection will be featured in a fall 2012 exhibition at Fashion on Main in downtown Dallas.
Ellen Rossetti with UNT News Service can be reached at Ellen.Rossetti@unt.edu.