Fashion Forward Fundraiser Raises Hopes

By LeeAnn Brown

A fashion fundraiser could help a 90-year-old dress hang for many years to come.

Neiman Marcus and Verdura jewelers joined Meadow Brook Hall to host the inaugural Decades of Dress charity event Wednesday, Oct. 2.

Decades of Dress raised money to pay for the repair of Matilda Dodge Wilson’s gold-tissue and purple-chain flapper dress from the ’20s.

Wilson called Meadow Brook Hall her home for 40 years, living there until she died in 1967, according to MBH’s website.

When Wilson’s first husband, John Dodge, died in 1920, she inherited his share of the Dodge Company making her one of the wealthiest women in the world, according to Curbed Detroit.

Meadow Brook Hall became Michigan’s most recent national historic landmark in 2012, and now hosts events and daily tours at the estate.

MBH’s extensive collection houses 75,000 pieces including first edition books, furniture, sculptures, Tiffany silver and several of Wilson’s outfits, according to Madelyn Rzadkowolski, Meadow Brook curator.

For several Meadow Brook employees, the focus of their job is to keep the unique collection preserved in pristine condition.

“We pack the costumes in acid-free paper and boxes and rotate them every six months,” said Meadow Brook employee, Denise Warren. “It’s a lot of work to keep up.”

According to Rzadkowolski, Wilson’s gold-tissue dress would have been considered racy at the time.

The dress can no longer hang on a mannequin because the weight of the chain flaps has been ripping the metallic and silk threads.

Rzadkowolski said they want to put the dress back on display for visitors, OU students and MBH staff to enjoy. 

In order to get the dress back on display, it needs to be sent for repair, which could cost upward of $5,000, Rzadkowolski said.

MBH hosted Decades of Dress in hopes that the raffle proceeds and any contributions would raise enough money to repair the dress. 

The event started off with the raffle, Verdura trunk show and music in the courtyard overlooking the golf course.

Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market catered a three-course lunch. As dessert was served, models began to show-off outfits from Neiman Marcus’ fall 2013 collection.

The show featured ready-to-wear fashions, jewels from Verdura and accessories from several designers including Eli Tahari, Kate Spade, Alexander McQueen, Levi’s and more. 

Ken Dewey, Neiman Marcus style adviser, described the collection as “catwalk to sidewalk” and highlighted several must-haves to be aware of for fall 2013.