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Preservation Spotlight: Karan Feder, Costume/Clothing preservationist

Costume sketch of "Showboat" costume from Hallelujah, Hollywood! production number  Photo courtesy of Karan Feder 

I had heard about Karan Feder's work as clothing and costume preservationist before I met her last September.  When our paths finally did cross, it was because my mother was moving to a Senior Living establishment and the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas was interested in some of her and my late dad's vintage clothing (my mother had outfits dating back to the late 1960s/early 1970s).

Karan has long been interested in preserving clothing but the classic Las Vegas era from the 1950s-1980s with its entertainers, showroom production numbers and the way that people used to dress to see a show, is of special interest to her.

She is the President of Entertainment Exhibitions and the Volunteer Curator of Costumes and Textiles at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas.

We had a great time talking about the challenges of preserving clothing and costumes:. (From the interview):

Feder: Another artifact of great interest to me is a one-of-a-kind Vegas stage costume donated to the museum. This is a large costume, as much sculpture as costume, measuring 4 feet long, 2 feet wide and 5 feet tall. The costume is fashioned to resemble a paddlewheel boat.  Towering above the boat-portion, a marquee reads "Show Boat." There is a small handle crank on the right side of the costume that would have connected to the rear paddlewheel mechanism to create a realistic paddlewheel spin. 

The donation included a few additional boxes of parts, pieces and accessories that were said to go with the costume. It was easy enough to identify the matching cap, bowtie, cuffs and panties found in the parts & pieces boxes, but what to do with the included various lengths of pleated, sequined and ruffled trim pieces? 

Conservation and research continues, but with the help of the local entertainment community, the costume is now identified from the Vegas stage show Hallelujah Hollywood which ran from 1974-1980 at the

To read more of this fascinating interview, go to ClassicLasVegasBlog.com


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Reader Comments (1)

Great article about costume preservation.
July 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commentervintageclothing

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