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What to wear? Maria Brilla’s Wardrobe at Disseny Hub Barcelona

15 April, 2011

Pedro Rodríguez dress, 1949

Through August 28, 2011, Disseny Hub Barcelona’s newest exhibition, What to wear? Maria Brillas’ Wardrobe by Pedro Rodriguez, will contemplate the complexity of getting dressed and the role that garments play in constructing our own identity. The collection also considers the autobiographical nature our wardrobe is likely to take on throughout the course of our lifetime.

The 50 pieces in the exhibition were selected from a total of 341 pieces—183 dresses and 158 accessories—which were donated to the Museu Tèxtil i de la Indumentària de Barcelona by Hilda Bencomo, the niece of Maria Brillas. All of the garments featured in the exhibition were designed between the 1930s and the 1970s by Pedro Rodriguez, a maestro of Spanish fashion nearly forgotten at present but whose brilliant career spanned Barcelona, Madrid, and Sant Sebastià between 1919 and 1980.

What to wear? Maria Brillas’ Wardrobe by Pedro Rodgriguez is a tale about a woman who constructed her image in collaboration with her couturier, Pedro Rodriguez, and who knew how to meld her personal taste and preferences to the social, political, and cultural currents which surrounded her, a setting in which she was expected to be the perfect hostess and a noteworthy example of her venerable family. Factors other than social expectations—including the hour of day, occasion, mood, taste, and fashion of the moment—also played a role in their design and wardrobe choices.

The exhibition recreates the daily experience of standing in front of the wardrobe and selecting the items we will wear. It is split into four sections which reflect four key moments of the day: daywear, eveningwear, cocktail apparel, and ceremonies –reflecting the system Maria Brillas herself used at the time to organize and manage her wardrobe. The exhibition includes day dresses, tailored dresses and outfits, coats, cocktail dresses, formalwear, black dresses, regal dresses, diaphanous dresses, tunic dresses, and dresses with inset gems. Though forms have grown more relaxed recently, these garments nevertheless continue to connect with 21st century society.

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