When the St Gallen merchant Emil Alpiger returned to Zurich in 1896 after more than twenty years in Persia, his luggage included a wooden trunk full of Persian garments and fabrics. The family safeguarded this treasure trove for generations. Now, more than a hundred years later, the precious clothes, fabrics, wall hangings, and embroideries are focus of the exhibition “Shades of Elegance – Fashion and Fabrics in Teheran Around 1900” at Museum Rietberg in Zürich, Switzerland.
The textiles stand for the taste and love of colour of a foregone time and culture, but also bear evidence to a vibrant age of trading. They are the product of reciprocal cultural exchange: cultural hybrids that join East and West. Thus, for instance, Iranian weavers and tailors found inspiration in European fashion and Western motifs and went on to make them their own. The exhibition indicates the power that lies in creative exchange and takes viewers back to nineteenth-century Persia with all its vivid and colourful works of art, to an era we otherwise only know from old black-and-white photographs.
Shades of Elegance – Fashion and Fabrics in Teheran Around 1900 at Museum Rietberg in Zürich. Exhibition walkthrough and interview with the curator of the exhibition, Axel Langer (in German language, english subtitles). Zürich, Switzerland, November 27, 2018.
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