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November 3rd is a BIG Day at the ROM


The Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume hosts BIG new exhibit

On Saturday, November 3, 2012, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) unveils BIG, the newest installation in the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume on Level 4 in the Museum’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal.

A stunning display, BIG is exclusively drawn from the ROM’s collection of nearly 50,000 textiles and costumes. Showcasing 40 artifacts from around the world, this unique exhibition includes objects assuming their BIG status in a myriad of ways. With some objects publicly displayed for the first time, the installation offers a fresh, new way of exploring the ROM’s renowned collections. BIG continues until Fall 2013.

“This installation highlights objects that are BIG,” states Dr. Alexandra Palmer, Nora E. Vaughan Fashion Costume Curator in the ROM’s World Cultures department. She continues, “BIG is not just about size. Even the smallest textile can have BIG personal, social, and cultural value that shifts according to context. BIG brilliantly looks at the meaning of textiles and fashions from around the globe and across time. Excitingly, a number of very recent acquisitions by BIG names are showcased in the display, including two from Toronto donors. Ms. Marlene Mock’s fascinating oversized black dress is part of a larger donation of significant fashions by Maison Martin Margiela, while Ms. Lonti Ebers’ stunning black lace dress by Alexander McQueen, a design she wore to the June 2007 Gala Opening of the ROM’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, is also displayed. We are most grateful to both women for their generosity"

Dr. Sarah Fee, Associate Curator of Eastern Hemisphere Textiles & Costume and Anu Liivandi, Assistant Curator of Textiles & Costume are the other members of the exhibition’s curatorial team.

A recent acquisition, and now a highlight of the Museum’s permanent collection and this exhibition, Passage #5 was designed by John Galliano for Christian Dior Couture. Specially commissioned by the ROM and made possible by the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust, this dramatic coat-dress was inspired by fashion illustrator René Gruau’s drawings of the 1940s and 1950s and is a 21st century reworking of Dior’s 1947 New Look. Passage #5 was a highlight of Dior’s Spring 2011 collection. A short documentary, produced by Dior, and generously funded by The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation, the ROM’s Textiles Endowment Fund, and the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust, complements the display. The film details the intricacies involved in creating this remarkable garment, including the 500+ hours by a Dior team. The ROM is the sole international museum to commission such a unique document of the construction of an haute couture design.

Other exhibition highlights representing the breadth of the ROM’s international collections include a Pre-Columbian Peruvian feather cape dated to 1000 -1476; an Indonesian bark cloth wrapper; and spectacular textiles created for Exposition Internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes - the BIG Art Deco exhibition held in Paris, 1925. Textiles from Albania, Canada, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Italy, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, United Kingdom, and USA, vibrantly demonstrate the exhibition’s BIG global scope. In addition to Galliano for Dior, contemporary fashions by leading designers Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Tam, and Tom Ford for Yves St Laurent are among the other BIG names on display.

Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume
Located on Level 4 of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume opened to the public in April 2008 as part of the Renaissance ROM expansion project. Named in honour of Mrs. Patricia Harris, in appreciation of the ongoing generous support of Mr. William and Mrs. Patricia Harris, the Harris Gallery is one of the Museum’s most dramatic spaces with angular walls rising to approximately 13 metres. BIG occupies the entire Harris Gallery, featuring new displays in the Jennifer Ivey Bannock Exhibit; the Lynda Hamilton Exhibit; the Phyllis Hamilton Exhibit; and the Flavia Redelmeier Exhibit.

Other Information
ROM Members already know that the best way to experience the Museum is through Membership and its numerous benefits, including free unlimited admission for members, special discounts for shopping, dining, programs, and more at the ROM. The BIG Member Preview, taking place on Friday, November 2, offers Members the opportunity to meet and enjoy brief exhibition introductions by curators Dr. Alexandra Palmer and Anu Liivandi. For additional information on this event or to purchase a membership, call 416.586.5700 or visit

Visitors are encouraged to join exhibition tours led by Docents from the ROM’s Department of Museum Volunteers (DMV). French tours are scheduled twice a month. For a listing of daily Docent tour offerings, please visit These tours enhance an already memorable Museum experience. Groups of 20 or more may call ROM Group Sales at 416.586.5801 (ext 2) or email for information on special rates, private lectures, and guided tours. School groups should visit or call ROM Education at 416.586.5801 (ext 1) for information on school visits.

As the holidays approach, make the ROM Museum Store a BIG shopping destination for gifts of beautiful home decor, glamorous accessories, Canadian designer duds, and fascinating publications among its many wares. Included on the Store’s bookshelves, among numerous other fashion titles, is the award-winning “Dior: A New Look, A New Enterprise 1947 - 57”, written by BIG co-curator, Dr. Alexandra Palmer. Beautifully illustrated, this is a detailed look at the incredibly productive years of Christian Dior - from 1947 to his 1957 death. This publication provides an attractive finishing touch following a visit with Dior’s stunning coat-dress in the exhibition. On November 30, December 1 and 2, the Store hosts ROM Members’ Holiday Shopping Weekend during which Members enjoy a 20% discount on all regularly priced merchandise – another BIG benefit of ROM Membership!

The highly popular ROM Friday Night Live(FNL) series is back and its November 9 edition is BIG, with the building-wide program featuring live music, lectures, performances, gallery explorations, food, drink, and shopping (including a 10% discount on all regular priced merchandise in the ROM Museum Store until 9:30 pm) among its line-up. The evening’s highlight is Fashion Cares 25 Retrospective, an installation celebrating 25 years of fashion as activism. Since its 1987 debut, as the fashion and beauty communities’ first effort to combat HIV/AIDS, Fashion Cares has grown to become one of Canada’s most spectacular and successful fundraisers - raising over $13 million to date for the vital fight. Also happening that evening is the Canadian premiere public screening of the documentary “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution” (2012), The film follows the events leading up to “The Grand Divertissement Gala” in November 1973. Conceived as a fundraiser to restore the Chateau de Versailles, the event was a flash point in American fashion history. This screening is supported by Joe Fresh. One more highlight? The ROM Museum Store offers 10% off all regularly priced merchandise during the evening. For additional information, visit and follow #FLNROM.

This year’s Veronica Gervers Fellowship Lecture takes place on November 16 at 7:00 pm in the ROM’s RBC Foundation Glass Room. Presented by Rachel Silberstein, PhD candidate at Oxford University, this year’s topic is Embroidered Tales: Narrative Imagery in Late Qing (1644-1911) Textiles. Figural imagery in Chinese embroidery has long been seen as merely decorative. However, embroiderers were influenced by contemporary prints and performance to express fashionable narratives of the day. Making use of Chinese textiles from the ROM’s collections, the lecture examines the narratives behind these embroidered scenes and informs on women’s lives in nineteenth-century China. The lecture is FREE to the public and attendees should enter via the ROM’s President’s Choice School Entrance, located at the south end of the Museum.

In other BIG programming, Dr. Alexandra Palmer discusses “BIG Dream: How a Dior Dress Came to the ROM” on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm. Dr. Palmer delivers the inside scoop on the ROM’s commissioning the House of Dior’s design and creation of the breathtaking haute couture dress now taking centre stage in BIG.

On May 29, 2013 at 11:00am, as part of the ROM’s ongoing Contexts lecture series, Dr. Sarah Fee addresses the non-Western textiles and costumes displayed in BIG. A massive bark cloth from Sulawesi and a remarkable adinkra wrapper from Ghana are among the objects discussed.

In Spring 2013, a panel of experts from all areas of the fashion industry deliberate on a wide range of contentious topics such as megabrands, globalism, gender and racial politics, sweatshop labour, and the age and size of models in “Fashion Crimes: The BIG Debate”. The fur – yet another discussion point! - will fly. Visit for programming details as they are confirmed.

BIG, an original exhibition of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), has been generously supported by the ROM’s Burnham Brett Endowment for Textiles and Costume, and The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation.


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