“Tell me what you wear, I’ll tell you who you are, my child.”

With Kidorama, the Brussels Fashion and Lace Museum has been exhibiting since July 8, with its collection of collections and questions fashion for ages 0-12 in light of its history. Tell me what kind of clothes you wear, I’ll tell you who you are.

At the bows of the Fashion and Lace Museum, there are naming costumes, mini crinolines, sailor suits, smoked dresses, camouflage, micro Converse, Belgian labeled silhouettes – Dujardin, Nouki’s or Max and Lola -, durable jackets and even T-shirts. The message is many clothes 0-12 years which tells the place of the child in our society. All of this was well worth an exhibition. Meet with Catherine GauthierCurator of the museum and Mathild SemalScientific assistants in the collection, both co-curators of this course.

Why such an exhibition?

We wanted to expand our large collection of kids fashion. Of our 15,000 ribbons, clothing and accessories dating from the 16th century to the present day, 10 to 15% relate to children. These clothes are often kept in families because they have an emotional and memory charge and the concept of infection is important. For example, we have baptismal robes, so much so that we now refuse to give. Recently, we created a list of collections. This served as the basis for writing the script for our exhibition, both chronologically and thematically: we wanted to test in the light of the current fashion history for 0 to 12 year olds.

The question of unisex and non-gender is very significant, but the children were not so much gender.

And what did you discover?

Sustainability of the underlying social problems of children’s clothing: gender, economy, sustainability, fashion questions. These themes allow us to create a dialogue with historical pieces so that the questions we ask are not new.

Unisex fashion is taking center stage today. How do you communicate it?

Kidorama It starts with the question: “Pink for girls, blue for boys?” The ideas we get come to shake. We showcase sets from the 19th and early 20th centuries, pink worn by a boy and blue by a girl, and a Jacomas T-shirt from its unisex pink collection for 2021. Historical and contemporary pieces to try to deconstruct stereotypes and to think of children and adults. Every day, we dress, sometimes without thinking about what we wear, but we always carry a social message about the identity that we want to reflect.

The dress is also a good example of gender stereotypes.

If we go back to the 19th century, we see that the little boy has a costume until he is 6 or 7 years old, “reasonable age”. From the 20s, as soon as the baby starts to walk, generics appear, the boy leaves the dress for shorts. What has changed is the age of childhood, it has been further reduced. Up to this contemporary paradox: the question of unisex and non-gender is very significant, but children were not so gender-conscious about the possibility of knowing their gender before birth. Parents then quickly turn their attention to Leighton’s choice, even though the non-genderless Leighton reappears. On the other hand, today, when you leave the maternity ward, if you want to dress your baby as a mini adult, it is possible, you can put a dress on your newborn, which did not exist before.

This imitation is found in the contemporary trend of “Mini Me”, where adults and children wear the same clothes …

Historically, if we go back to the 20s, we can already talk about a kind of “mini me” but more diverse than the same. And as it became fashionable in the 50s, we show off matching outfits made for mother-daughter made to see Expo 58.

Matthew Semal and Catherine Gauthier, co-curators of the exhibition. Photo: E. Danier

When was the children’s brand born?

Luxurious brands pioneering, we often refer to the Baby Dior line which dates back to 1967. But it’s not the only one, we’re also showcasing a small cardigan leather dress from the 60s, specific to the space age. Some creators therefore position themselves early on in the children’s market. They will then be copied by the mass market brand. Integrates new patterns, as well as new cuts and colors in children’s clothing, comfortable, playful and designed for children. It goes from Petit Bateu’s yellow raincoat to this Sonia Reikiel jogging, we call it leisure wear, which is very present in adult fashion but it enters through children. It is more practical to wear a tracksuit because it can be dirty and can be washed often. In the 1970s, youth became instructive, bringing children’s models into adult clothing.

This is obviously a “kids admission” show.

On each floor, we designed a manipulation module, which gives a new reading grid and lets you see the parts more closely. And from the entrance, with two silhouettes, a girl and a boy, we ask the children the question: “Look how we dressed 200 years ago. Do you think it’s very different from what you wear today?” We wanted them to draw their own conclusions.

Kidorama, 200 Years of Children’s Fashion, Brussels Fashion and Lace Museum, 12, Rue de la Violet, 1000 Brussels. fashionandlacemuseum.brussels from 8 July to 5 March 2023.

Leave a Comment