Good Yarns

Maybe I should have done more it during my extensive vacation from the office, but today I made my first official outing to learn more about my adopted city. (This will give me something to offer when co-workers inquire what I did over the holiday. A response about reading and hanging curtains just doesn't seem so captivating.)
The Chicago History Museum. Here was the full story I was seeking regarding Chicago burning during the Great Fire in 1871. I was amused that the historical society seems a little trapped between its responsibility to verifiable historical fact and the wish to spin a good yarn. There was an homage to the legend that Mrs. O'Leary's cow tipped over a gas lamp and started the conflagration, but it was presented as a side note. The Mayor apparently officially pardoned Mrs. O'Leary and her cow a few years ago, since there was never any conclusive evidence to blame them. The museum offered enough of a tribute though, to allow the sale of red cowbells in the gift shop.
It was a seemingly tenuous thread that drew me to the museum today though, an exhibit of Christian Dior dresses from the 1940s and 1950s. (How did this Parisian designer tie to Chicago? Marshall Field's was one of the biggest sellers of Dior couture in the U.S.) I learned that it was Dior silhouette, the "New Look" as it was called (narrow shoulders, full bosom, tiny waist, big hips, full skirt) that drove the invention of the push-up bra. And Dior invented the "A Line." Dior found an investor who was a textile manufacturer, who loved his designs with their voluminous skirts -- some dresses took up 25 yards of fabric!

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