Updated August 16, 2023, after the presentation
- Presentation day
- Joseph Hisey tells his story
- Leadup to the presentation
Presentation Day: Celebrating a Fabulous Fashion Journey with Joseph Hisey!
What an absolutely incredible Saturday it was! We were surrounded by 60 kindred spirits who share the same passion for historical garments at our Fashion History Lecture, led by the amazing Joseph Hisey from Stratford, Ontario. It was a true feast for the fashion-loving souls among us!
Joseph’s lifelong dedication to studying fashion history and recreating it shone through in his captivating lecture. The two-hour session felt like a delightful whirlwind, packed with fascinating facts, humorous anecdotes, and the stories behind his remarkable collection. We hung on his every word as he transported us through time with his incredible insights.
Dorothy Haan examines undergarments of days past. Only one petticoat is shown, but often eight were worn to build up the shape of the dress until such time as the metal hoop was invented.
Original purple dress with succotash trim. This dress was likely repurposed from another garment.
The pink and white dress is a reproduction made by Joseph in the late Georgian style.
Plaid reproduction silk dress.
Silk brocade gown by Joseph with a hand-embroidered crazy quilt bustier.
Collection gifted to a museum
The generosity of Joseph’s spirit knows no bounds! He will be gifting the remainder of his cherished historical fashion and costume collection to the Fashion History Museum in Hespler, Ontario. This act of sharing ensures that these treasures will continue to educate and inspire generations to come.
Having Joseph with us was an absolute joy, and having a hands-on encounter with pieces from his collection was an unforgettable treat. It was a rare chance to experience fashion history up close and personal, before it finds its new home at the museum.
Refreshments and prize draw at ABQ Sewing Studio
Following the enlightening session, we all gathered back at the Studio for some delightful refreshments. And the icing on the cake? Our highly anticipated prize draw, where the lucky winner walked away with a Block of The Month Kit worth an amazing $600!
Thanks to Joseph and lecture attendees
Thank you, Joseph, for gracing us with your knowledge, humour, and generosity. And thank you to all the attendees who made this day a truly unforgettable experience. Let’s continue sewing, learning, and celebrating the incredible world of fashion and creativity together!
Joseph Hisey tells his story
Interest in textile arts
When looking back on how it all began, it seems as if an interest in costume and the textile arts has always been with me. As a teenager, I enjoyed the efforts of Hollywood designers and naively believed that what I saw on the screen, in such films as, Gone With The Wind, was as accurate as it could possibly be. In hindsight, I know that this assumption was incorrect, but it was a catalyst for a young mind and an exploration of the topic of fashion history began.
As the prospect of College or University loomed, I even considered studying fashion design, but feared that I would only end up as a pattern cutter in some dingy factory on Spadina Ave. I was probably right. The thought of production design never entered my head, but, I think that I would have enjoyed costume design as a career choice.
I started teaching by my late 20’s and was lucky enough to become a sessional instructor at Sheridan College in their School of Animation, Art & Design. Art & Design history along with a course in Textiles were the curriculum that I taught.
I found people who shared my enthusiasm
In 1991 I heard of the Costume Society of Ontario from a friend who worked in the Toronto Reference Library. She worked with the late Alan Suddon, who was a great collector, and so I now found my way to an organization and the people, that could foster, stimulate and share my enthusiasm. Over the years, I have organized study tours to Great Britain, with an emphasis on behind-the-scenes tours of major museum collections.
I still wasn’t collecting dresses until the late 1990s, but when I was asked to create an Edwardian wedding gown for a high school production, I was hooked. I studied its construction and began to re-create authentic reproductions, based on the pattern research currently being done by leading fashion historians. These I would later use in high school settings for lectures on dress, with historical societies and eventually with students at Fanshawe college who were studying in the Fashion Program.
The process of making and developing patterns trained my eye to the extent that I can identify the decade of any garment from which it came to within a few years of its creation.
Unfortunately, the collection has not been shown to the public very often. Once, in Toronto, I loaned 5 pieces to Spadina House Museum for a show.
In 2014, I was asked to provide a display of Victorian pieces in Exeter. Organizers were holding an exhibit of 19th-century heritage quilts and they gave me a space to exhibit. It was for only 3 days, but I loved sharing and discussing the collection and seeing the reactions from the visitors. Otherwise, up until now only townies (Stratford, ON) have had access to private viewings in my home.
I am slowly donating items to the Fashion History Museum in Hespler, where they will have a greater opportunity of being shared with the public.
Leadup to the presentation
Get ready for an extraordinary exhibition and presentation by Joseph Hisey, historical fashion expert and collector. This August, 2023, ABQ Sewing Studio hosts this fascinating look at the rich heritage of couture.
Join Joseph as he guides an exploration of a variety of sewing techniques from the past and how they continue to be used in couture sewing today.
His slideshow and presentation showcases exquisite vintage pieces, as well as stunning reproductions inspired by museum treasures, and he’ll discuss the profound influence of clothing, cloth, and needlework on a life of creativity.