Travelogue: Las Vegas

Las Vegas: Costume Society of America National Symposium, Part 2

View the Travelogue Gallery for Days 3 and 4!

cirque-du-soleil costuming
An example of Cirque du Soleil costuming.

Hi there! We are Beth Caffery Carter, KHS Collections Management Assistant, and Adam MacPharlain, Churchill Weavers Assistant Project Specialist. We recently attended the 2013 Costume Society of America National Symposium held in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. We are excited to share the highlights our recent trip with you all week long! Check back all week for  new Travelogues from Las Vegas!

Day 3: Sessions & Cirque Du Soleil

Beth: This year’s keynote speaker was Jack Ricks who is Head of Wardrobe at Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity. His address was titled 20 Years of Costuming for the Cirque du Soleil Stage in Las Vegas. He brought along several costumes from the organization’s Heritage Collection.  Jack Ricks described the process and challenges of creating some of these elaborate costumes. After the keynote address, the sessions began! My favorite sessions all related to museum and conservation topics. A conservator from the Smithsonian spoke on Benjamin Franklin’s three-piece suit, its background story, and its condition. In another presentation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s installation specialist described the process of mounting a large traveling costume exhibition. She offered solutions to some of the problems we face while dressing mannequins. I spent the evening strolling “The Strip” with a couple of professors that I met during the conference.

Adam: Along with Beth, I attended Jack Ricks’ Keynote address in awe of the innovations in costume design and production at Cirque. One of my favorite later presentations was about dating a dress worn by Dolley Payne Todd Madison, wife of James Madison. After a few more papers, it was time for me to give my first conference presentation ever! I was talking about a set of French fashion dolls from the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City, where I was previously employed as a collections cataloguer. The presentation went really well, but I was drained, so I spent the rest of the evening relaxing in my hotel room.


Day 4: Museum Day

Adam: After the morning sessions, it was time to break into groups and bus over to the Nevada State Museum for a self-guided tour of a temporary Vegas fashion exhibit, which included costumes worn by Liberace and Elvis, as well as wander through their permanent galleries. Then we further broke apart to tour other area museums. I went to the Mob Museum, which is housed on three floors of a former federal courthouse which held part of the Kefauver Committee trial in 1950. It was a fascinating and gruesome look at the history of the mob throughout the US. Friday night I dined in Paris (the hotel) with a few of my younger colleagues.

Beth: At the Nevada State Museum, I learned about the Hoover Dam, atomic testing, and how Las Vegas became the city that it is today. My favorite artifacts included several related to Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel as well as numerous show girl costumes. Later, I went out to Henderson, Nevada to the Clark County Museum. If you watch “Pawn Stars,” you are probably familiar with their Museum Administrator, Mark Hall-Patton (and yes, I saw him there). The property spans 30-acres, has a museum, nature trail, and a collection of historic buildings that have been moved to their “Heritage Street.” My favorite structure was the Candlelight Wedding Chapel. Built in 1966, it once stood on the Las Vegas strip and once was the site of a record breaking 425 wedding ceremonies performed in one day. If you do the math, that’s 17.7 weddings per hour.


Las Vegas Travelogue Gallery

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