“She knew exactly what she wanted to leave us.”
The world has a detailed curation of the life and lifestyle of the notable Marjorie Merriweather Post, but when it comes to memories of her style and sophistication, perhaps none can rival Ellen Charles.
Charles, Post’s granddaughter, was on hand at Hillwood, the General Foods founder’s estate-turned-museum in Washington, DC Tuesday night for its annual foundation fundraising gala, which featured an exclusive patron’s preview of its exhibition for Ingenue to Icon: 70 Years of Fashion from the Collection of Marjorie Merriweather Post.
The first exhibition to present Post’s full range of style, which Charles describes as “a beautiful celebration of Grandmother’s taste in fashion as she moved through seven decades of an incredible life,” Ingenue to Icon features more than seventy gowns, dresses, outfits, and accessories from her own closet, curated by Howard Kurtz… and perhaps Post herself (“After all, without her choice we would not have this exhibit,” Charles acknowledges).
“Grandmother loved fine workmanship in everything in her life — whether it was her splendid collection, the furnishings of her home, or the beautiful clothes she wore. She always had in mind with her beautiful ballgowns the jewelry she would wear with it,” remembered Charles.
“She kept the dresses that she wore in important times in her life, and there were photographs to show her in them. They were beautifully wrapped in these large cardboard boxes, with tissue paper and a pink satin ribbon that has a little pin that ran through the note she wrote about the importance about the dress.”
From Charles’ recollection, Post seemed to have known that this exhibit would one day attract those interested in both fashion and history. “She knew what she wanted to leave to all of us. I can’t imagine looking at life quite that way, but aren’t we lucky that she did?!”
As well-heeled guests roamed the estate and gardens, viewed with fascination the exhibited fashions, and enjoyed a dinner of seafood bisque and lamb chops, Charles cheerfully reflected on memories of her grandmother evoked by the gowns in the Ingenue to Icon collection.
“It was so fun to go and sit in her dressing room as she prepared for the day or the evening. She had a whole ritual; The safe was always open for the jewelry she was going to wear, and the clothes were laid out. It really was so much fun… better than any movie I’ve seen!”
Ingenue to Icon remains on view at Washington, DC’s Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens through December 31st, 2015.