Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress

Stories told through costumes and textiles

On a recent trip to New York, I had every intention of using my one free day to see 3 exhibitions scattered throughout the city. Wishful thinking, as it is nearly impossible to do in one day, I always learn. I ended up going with my top choice, Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of the Israel museum, Jerusalem.   Located at the Jewish Museum, the exhibit features costumes and textiles from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Germany, Greece, Tunisia, Egypt and various other far-flung corners of the world. My visit was an enlightening lesson in the history of Jewish dress and craft.   Cloaks and head covers were decorated in delicate embroidery and were displayed on mannequins, vibrant ikat robes hung in cases, and embellished bodices were arranged next to accessories from a bygone era. The room in which all of these treasures were on view was dimly lit, adding a sense of intrigue to the historical importance of Jewish dress that was made and worn to tell a story of one’s life. I gravitated towards an Egyptian ensemble made from tulle and silver-tinsel embroidery, and to Uzbeki bridal attire from the early twentieth century adorned in gold sequins. They both evoked a sense of grandeur and exhilarating beauty. The exhibition is up until March 18, 2018, and if you are to visit, I highly suggest purchasing the book that accompanies the show. Not only is it visually stunning, but it is a lesson in Jewish history that is not often told.