Design by LeAnne Zambito. Photo by Sarah Favret.

On exhibit: ‘Architecturally Inspired’ at the Old State Capitol

Old State Capitol, through September 14

Quatrefoils, cast iron and colorful stained glass help to make Louisiana’s Old State Capitol one of the country’s most distinctive historic buildings. In the onsite museum’s latest exhibition, these unique details are also the muses for one-of-a-kind garments.

“I’m a big fan of Project Runway and was watching an episode where the designers were challenged to create something inspired by a museum or the items inside the museum,” explains Old State Capitol curator Lauren Davis of the origins of the exhibition, titled “Architecturally Inspired: Fashion Celebrating the Old State Capitol.” “It made me think—our building is the perfect inspiration for wearable designs!”

With help from Pam Vinci of the LSU Textile and Costume Museum, Davis connected with apparel design assistant professor Casey Stannard, who sought out master’s students, recent grads, fellow professors and local designers to contribute. The result is a collection of 13 new original garments including LeAnne Zambito’s ball gown featuring the colors of the glass dome, Donna Sapp’s strapless dress with pockets inspired by the crenelated towers, and Stannard’s own creation, a dress that gives a nod to the arched windows against a night sky.

The exhibition also features two historic garments from the collection of the LSU Textile and Costume Museum that were worn at events at the Old State Capitol—one worn to the Best Dressed Ball in 1976, and another worn by first lady Alice Foster at a Louisiana Purchase bicentennial-themed gala in 2003. Combined with the new items, these pieces present a fitting tribute to a building that celebrates its 25th anniversary as a museum this year.

“The style of the building was meant to evoke an image of Louisiana as powerful, majestic, even royal, while at the same time showcasing symbolism that celebrated Louisiana’s history and culture,” says Davis. “We love to see the reactions of out-of-town visitors when they first walk in—it’s always a look of awe. So we hope that this exhibit is a unique way to show how that awe can be translated into fashion by local artists.”