Flair & Style at Winterthur

Walking though Winterthur is like entering a luscious dream. From the sweeping grounds to the grand buildings, the exquisitely decorated rooms to the magical Enchanted Woods, it is a constantly changing landscape which rewards the curious with each visit.

House of Style at Winterthur

While known for their gardens and museum, originally collected and arranged by the visionary Henry Francis du Pont, the estate has evolved to become one of the premier centers of research, scholarship, and innovation in the country.

This March, House of Style celebrates the art of design with a variety of events and exhibitions. From current trends to iconic looks, there will be talks, workshops, and demonstrations designed for every taste and occasion.

Erica Kurtz. Photo Credit - New Moon

There are themes for each week of the exhibition, starting with Florals, featuring talks from Margot Shaw, founder and editor in chief of Flower magazine, as well as floral design demonstrations and botanicals workshops. Then Textiles takes over, with Erika Kurtz’s talks, home design troubleshooting, and Fashioning Yuletide, a special sneak preview of this year’s couture-inspired holiday celebration. With Entertaining, Wendy Kvalheim and Paul J. Wokcik from Mottahedeh & Co. will inspire guests to create stunning dining experiences in every sense. Finally, Scott Kravet, chief creative director of Kravet Inc., discusses The Past and Future of Fabrics.

“Design philosophies and aesthetics are ever-changing, but fine craftsmanship is never out of style,” says Erica Kurtz, chief operating officer and designer for New Moon Rugs. “The global artisan is the new hero of modern-day design.” Kurtz will be discussing the history, process, and art of hand-made rug weaving, inviting guests to “walk through the history and process of designing and creating these true works of art that grace our floors and enliven our spaces.”

Kurtz will illuminate the way fine Tibetan rugs are made, “from the initial design process, to translating the design to graph, to choosing the right materials, to dyeing, weaving, washing, trimming, and finishing,” as well as the evolution of the art and its future. There is a renewed focus on hand-crafted items such as “these true works of art that grace our floors and enliven our spaces,” Kurtz explains.

When it comes to textiles, there is more to it than simply the fine fabric of high fashion. As Kravet suggests, it is important to have “an appreciation for the history of design and the preservation” of textiles from “the past and future.” His talks will cover three different techniques of textile design, from hand-blocking in 19th century England and Thailand currently, to all things Toiles, especially those of Europe from the 18th and 19th centuries, and finally Art Deco, including textiles, artwork, weaving, and how it continues to influence design today.

Margot Shaw. Photo Credit - Becky Luigart-Stayner

One of the highlights of House of Style is Fashioning Yuletide, which will preview not only the always fabulous Yuletide at Winterthur, on display every holiday season, but also the highly anticipated Ann Lowe: American Couturier. On view starting September 9, 2023, this will be the largest exhibition of Ann Lowe’s work ever on display.

“My process starts with researching and allowing myself to ponder the pain of what it must have felt like to be Ann Lowe, a couturier who, while being respected by her peers (such as Christian Dior), did not have the ability to fully explore her craft due to the limitations of the day,” says Shawn Baron Pinckney, designer and one of the curators of Fashioning Yuletide. With fellow designer and curator Asata Maisé Beeks, they will be “creating unique pieces that will be installed in the mansion for Yuletide later this year.”

Perhaps Lowe is best known for creating (and amazingly, recreating) the wedding dress of Jacqueline Bouvier to John F. Kennedy. “Ann Lowe practiced her gift of sewing until she died,” Pinckney explains. “She did not allow society's limitations to stop her from performing the thing that brought her joy, all while changing the lives of those who were fortunate enough to wear one of her exquisite designs.”

On March 11th, Fashioning Yuletide will give a sneak peek. “Visitors will be able to connect personally with myself and Shawn for an in-depth understanding of the designs we are curating for the Yuletide installation,” says Beeks. “Mood boards, samples, fabric, and color swatches will give the visitors a deeper understanding of what’s to come later this year.”

Ann Lowe, American Couturier at Winterthur

These exhibitions will provide “a glimpse into the world of modern-day local Black couturiers like Ann Lowe,” Pinckney says. “Lowe’s influence impacts me in a multitude of ways from the use of floral motifs, intricate couture techniques, and application of fabric remnants,” explains Beeks. “Visitors of Fashioning Yuletide will have a peek at these influences and the full spectrum will be wholly recognized during the Yuletide installation.”

House of Style at Winterthur features talks, workshops, and other events throughout the month of March. Fashioning Yuletide will be on display on March 11th. Ann Lowe: American Couturier will be on view from September 9th, 2023 through January 7th, 2024. Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library is located at 5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE. More information, including for all House of Style events, can be found at Winterthur.org.

About Victoria Rose

Victoria Rose (she/her) is an editor, writer, avid reader, self-described geek, and fan of all things creative. Her passion for words has led to her current career as a freelance editor, and she is the owner of Flickering Words, an editing service. When not wielding a red pen (or cursor), she loves reading books of all genres, playing video, board, and word games, baking ridiculous creations to show off on the internet, or enjoying the gorgeous outdoors. She is a board member of the West Chester Film Festival and part of the Thirsty Monsters, a team of streamers from around the world who fundraise for various charities supporting LGBTQIA+ and accessibility rights. She can be found online @WordsFlickering or the Brandywine Art Guide @BrandywineArtGuide.

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