Finally after being in lock down since 15th March the museums opened Corona style with 1.5 m distancing, masks and an appointment to get in. My friend Siobhan and I headed of to an exhibition called ” Fashion on a Ration ” at the Dutch Resistance Museum. The museum is a really fascinating look into the sometimes uncomfortable reality of what happened under the German occupation during WW2. Very sensitively handled with insight into the lives of normal people. Did you help the Jewish people, did you ignore what was going on, did you resist or collaborate…
This part of the museum was all about how people had to make do and mend due to rationing of materials. How inventive they were making clothes, hats and shoes out of almost any material they could find.
This exhibition was very well put together. The Liberation skirts made by women after the war and from scraps of old clothing and embroidered with key dates of celebration were amazing. I have lived in Amsterdam for 50 years and have never come across one of these ever. They must be treasured and personal items.
The exhibition also gave insight into what happened to the Jewish fashion businesses, how they were taken over. Due to rationing material was very limited so you made do and mended. I remember my mother making clothes out of my fathers old uniforms. In England materials were still fairly limited. I still save material scraps, buttons, bits and bobs to use in my art. I notice with the younger generation they get rid of stuff and don’t have these draws full of things to use to create. Now maybe we start to look a bit differently at this not because of war but out of stopping an industry that is making things that you wouldn’t even want to save as they are so throw away and valueless.
I have noticed a revival during lock down of people ordering buttons and textiles from my Etsy shop from far away places like the US and Japan even South Korea. See Carolas Choices Knitters, sewers, recyclers of all kinds getting out their projects to work on. My daughter and granddaughters have embraced hacking their clothes to make new exciting things to wear. Something I applaud as so much exists already do we really need to make more?
This was very well researched and I felt I really learned something, I was not only impressed as to how innovative people can be with materials and style but also the hidden stories of what people went through during the war. Some very touching stories that needed to be told and realized by a new generation.
They had also invited students to recycle old clothes and make something new out of them which was also interesting to see what they had done.
Below is a selection of dresses from the 40’s that shows the shortage of materials. A clever way was to insert another colour to make it look a part of the outfit.
Fashion on a Ration will be until 9th September 2020. There is plenty to see and learn at the museum, a unique look at Amsterdam during the war.There is also a children’s part which is excellent and highlights what happened to children and their lives during the war.Resistance museum