“Historical to Hysterical” fashions at Atlantique City

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Anyone whose vintage fashion sense favors the Age of Aquarius, the Wild West, the Roaring ’20s or Southern antebellum is in for a special treat at the Oct. 20-21 Atlantique City Show.

Whitaker~Augusta Auction Co. partners Charles A. Whitaker and Karen Augusta have pooled their knowledge and resources to prepare the featured exhibit for this month’s vintage-fashion-themed show. Their “Historical to Hysterical” exhibit will feature items from the antebellum couture collection of Tasha Tudor; cowboy collectibles from Irv and Hollie Bindewald’s late, legendary Whiskey Dust store in Greenwich Village; an outrageous Moschino leather skirt suit; and, appropriately enough, the dress worn by the first Miss America, crowned in Atlantic City in 1921.

Two Tone Silk Bustle Dress.jpgThe historical part of the exhibit will be dominated by items from Tudor’s collection. The 92-year old children’s book illustrator, often referred to as America’s Beatrix Potter, lives in rural Vermont. Her vast collection of wool, cotton and silk everyday wear has been on loan at Colonial Williamsburg and now the Tudor Foundation has decided to liquidate it through an auction run by the Whitaker~Augusta on Nov. 11, with an exhibition on Nov. 10.

One thing that makes Tudor’s collection so special is the fact that the clothes were what people wore around the house and in the fields. These vintage garments are in short supply because people from that era typically wore their clothes until they were worn out. Her collection covers mainly 1790 to 1860. A regular fall auction is scheduled for Oct. 26-27.

“She even collected men’s clothes from that era, which are especially rare and kind of surprising to see,” Whitaker said.

Tudor, who started her collection in 1924, also wears vintage clothing, spins her own wool, has no running water or electricity, grows her food and raises grass-fed cattle. Her only concession to modern times is a phone, which she only recently agreed to accept.

To complete the historical portion of the presentation, Philadelphia-based Whitaker and Augusta have included items like Civil War-era dresses, examples of the beaded look from the 1920s and the Miss America dress.

“We have samples from every 40 or 50 years to fill in the gaps so the exhibit covers the period from 1790 to about 50 years ago,” Whitaker said.

The “hysterical” part of the exhibit is anchored by what Whitaker calls “wild items from the Wild West.” These include leftover merchandise from Whiskey Dust as well as merchandise from the Bindewalds’ extensive private collection.

Look for their collection of exotic-skin boots made from the hides of ostriches, elephants, rhinos, and anything that walks the earth. Also featured will be the Bindewalds’ cap-gun and belt-buckle collections, saddles, spurs, and some elaborately embroidered, rhinestone-covered cowboy shirts designed by Nudie Cohn (1902-1984).

Rounding out the “hysterical” will be clothing and paraphernalia exemplifying the mod look of the 1960s designed by Betsey Johnson, who was part of the Andy Warhol scene in Manhattan. Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick was Johnson’s house model and she created the ‘60s look exemplified by models like Twiggy and Verushka, whom she outfitted.

Moschino Leather Skirt Suit, Late 20th Century.jpgAlso featured will be a beaded and elaborately embroidered jumpsuit once worn by Whitney Houston; and some outrageous Moschino leather outfits.

“I’m kind of excited about it,” he said of Atlantique City. “I like the idea that someone is promoting fashion outside of Manhattan. It’s very smart. The Miss America dress is very appropriate for the location and I think we should also have a very good audience for the Western collection with the connection between Atlantic City and Las Vegas.”

Whitaker notes that, “With only one or two good shows in Manhattan each year, lots of dealers would exhibit at a show in Atlantic City if there’s potential.”

Karen Augusta is perhaps best known as the fashion and textile appraiser on the popular PBS series, Antiques Roadshow. She has curated or acted as a consultant for many costume and lace exhibits in the United States, and has appraised collections for private collectors and public institutions throughout North America. She has also developed an award-winning web site, www.antique-fashion.com.

Whitaker was a teenager when he began his career in the antiques business on Philadelphia’s Main Line. After establishing a well-known antique shop in the city he founded the Charles A. Whitaker Auction Co. in 1991.

Atlantique City is scheduled for Oct. 20-21 at the Atlantic City Convention Center. More than 400 dealers are expected to participate. For information, call 800-526-2724 or visit www.atlantiquecity.com.