Centenary, Corsets & Couture at Iziko Koopmans-de Wet House

  • Posted: Aug 8, 2014

Iziko Koopmans-de Wet House, 8 August until 31 October 2014

In celebration of Women’s Month, the exhibition Corsets & Couture opens at the Iziko Koopmans-de Wet House Museum today. A visual feast, the exhibition highlights the changes in women’s fashion over a century. It contrasts a typical 19th century outfit with couture garments from the 20th century.  These couture garments, on display for the first time, were designed by South African couturier Chris Levin, and generously donated to Iziko Museums of South Africa by art doyen, Mark Coetzee. 

InCorsets & Couture, a late-Victorian black outfit with its black beaded trimmings, is juxtaposed with a small collection of eight couture garments from the 1960s–1990s. The older outfit is an example of attire which the house’s best-known tenant, Marie Koopmans-de Wet, would have worn over a corset. The infamous corset, which was obligatory wear for women, forced a woman's curves into the shape of the fashionable silhouette of the day, attempting especially to decrease the size of the waist by a few inches.

Iziko Koopmans-de Wet House celebrates its centenary this year, as the oldest house museum in South Africa, having first opened its doors to the public in 1914. The museum is named after Marie Koopmans-de Wet (1834-1906) who lived here with her sister Margaritha.

Marie was a well-connected, energetic, charismatic and strong-minded woman who was passionate about Cape colonial heritage. After her husband's death in 1879, Marie chose to wear black for the rest of her life, as Queen Victoria had chosen to do before her. It is also believed that she made her own clothes.

Corsets & Coutureis an exhibition for anyone with an interest in fashion, design and historical costume, and offers a rare opportunity to see Chris Levin's garments at close quarters. The exhibition is on display at Iziko Koopmans-de Wet from 8 August until 31 October 2014.

*Koopmans-de Wet House is open Monday to Friday from 10h00-17h00 and on certain commemorative days and public holidays. Closed on Saturdays, Sundays, Workers’ Day and Christmas Day. Entrance fees: Adults - R20; 18 years and under - R10; SA students and pensioners with valid SA card - R10; under 5s enter for free.

For more information, visit http://www.iziko.org.za. For enquiries, contact Wieke van Delen at Tel. 021 467 7203 or email wvandelen@iziko.org.za. Alternatively, contact Nomapatho Mesele on Tel. 021 467 7218 or email nmesele@iziko.org.za.



Issued by: Lee-Shay Collison
Communications Coordinator: Institutional Advancement, Iziko Museums of South Africa
Telephone: +27 (0) 21 481 3891                  Facsimile: +27 (0) 21 461 9620
Cell: 073 585 9843                                          E-mail: lcollison@iziko.org.za
Website http://www.iziko.org.za                            


On behalf of: Office of the CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa

Notes to editor:

About Chris Levin

Chris Levin, one of South Africa's early couturiers, was based in Johannesburg, where he created fashionable garments from the 1960s to the early 1990s. He specialized in exclusive day wear, evening wear and bridal wear, using the finest imported fabrics. It was often said that a Levin creation could be worn inside out because of the garment’s careful structure. Levin's clients included famous and wealthy figures in business, politics, and culture. Two of the more famous personalities he has dressed include Marike de Klerk, wife of President FW de Klerk at the time, and the Hollywood actress, Elizabeth Taylor.

About Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko)

Iziko operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium, the Social History Centre and three collection‑specific libraries in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and non-profit organisation that brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, (*excluding the Castle of Good Hope and Planetarium). Visit our webpage at www.iziko.org.za, join our online community on Facebook (www.facebook.com/IzikoMuseums) or follow us on Twitter (@Iziko_Museums) for regular updates on events, news and new exhibitions. 

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