Main Event: Fashion show brings women's history to life

Model participants included, from left, Barbara Jordan, of Rochester; Sheila Kiscaden, of Rochester; Laura Potter, of Rochester; Sharon Krom, of Rochester; Sue Colby, of Rochester; Audrey Betcher, of Stewartville; Georgia Hurley, of Rochester; and Madonna Marsh, of Stewartville.

The clothes of 150 years ago were on display for a second year in a Historic Fashion Show,put on by the History Center of Olmsted County.

The event, March 15 in the Kahler Apache Ballroom, drew an audience of about 120 people. It raised $14,508 for history center programs.

But the event, said history center Director Lisa Baldus, is "more than a fundraiser, it's been an educational experience for Rochester." This was the second year of the fashion show. It corresponds with an exhibit at the history center, 1195 West Circle Drive, Rochester.

"What we're trying to show here is kind of a fun, educational experience," Baldus said. "This is getting people in and they're finding out what we're all about."

Among attendees was Marilyn Burbank,of Rochester, co-founder of the Rochester Genealogical Society.


"I think it's exciting to see how people used to dress," she said. "And I'm glad they don't dress like that anymore."

Sally Enders,of Rochester, is a member of the history center's board of directors. "It was a huge success" last year, she said. "It was living history."

Enders invited friends to this year's event, including Cheryl Lavin-Meyer, Kendall Carstensand Karen Pathoulas.

Minnesota Rep. Nels Piersonhad 11-year-old daughter Sonjain the show. "I think it's going to be interesting to see her in an old fashioned outfit like that," he said.

Pierson's wife Nicoleand son Nels, age 9, also attended. Young Nels enjoyed trying the decadent desserts.

"I like the cheesecake with chocolate chips," he said.

Susanna Bordelon,of Mantorville, brought a professional's eye to the proceedings. She's a professional seamstress and owner of the business Sewing Susanna.

"I really do like historical costuming, coming from Mantorville," she said.


Her mother Marcie Bordelonand sister Bridgetattended with her.

The event was "an opportunity for family time, enjoying some tea," Marcie Bordelon said.

Sharon Oliver,of Rochester, attended as the guest of Rosie Seegmiller,of Rochester. They were seated at a table reserved for members of the American Sewing Guild.

"I've been seweing since 4H days with Sharon," Seegmiller said. "Ever since I could reach the treadles of Grandma's sewing machine."

Carolyn Barsness, of Rochester, is another sewing guild member. She is interested in Civil War-era dress, though "I haven't made myself a (Civil War period) dress yet, but I plan on it."

Costumes for a second year were designed and presented by Joy Melcher,whose business,, specializes in costumes of the period.

"We're going from Jane Austen all the way to 'Downton Abbey,'" she said.

The March date of the event is significant, said Melcher.


"Supporting Women's History Month sends a message to our daughters and granddaughters that what we do is important, too," she said.

Nineteen women modeled the historic fashions. Among them was Rochester Community and Technical College President Leslie McClellon.

"I love the color — green is one of my favorites," McClellon said. "It's fun. She (Melcher) is going to do another show. I thought I might sign up for that, too."

Next year's Historic Fashion Show has been envisioned as covering a slightly more recent period, Baldus said, near the turn of the 20th century when women began showing up in the workplace. Models will depict specific historic figures, including Edith Mayo, a nurse in the late 1800s, and the fashions will more resemble the comparatively practical clothing styles of today.

"You couldn't have these kinds of (Civil War era) dresses and go to work," Baldus said.


Up next

On April 14, we'll feature the fifth annual Robin Run, a fundraiser for the Fitch-Dickman Foundation.


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