Before any mannequin dressing begins, proper museum protocol regarding the intake of objects must be followed. The process generally goes like this:

First, the boxes or crates are opened in a clean and secure gallery or room that has environmental controls (including a specific relative humidity and temperature). The entire uncrating process is always photographed, both for replication purposes when the exhibition is over, and to make sure that any problems are documented immediately.

Exhibition Registrar Melanie Fox photographs the opening of our first Rodarte container.

Next, the contents of the box or container are always checked against the packing list which accompanies the shipment.

The contents of the first box we opened included some incredible things – like the Christian Louboutin and Nicholas Kirkwood shoes, amazing knit tights, and handcut leather leggings. We swooned…

After confirming the contents of the container, we immediately write condition reports for all objects. The reports usually list packing details, as well as any damages or flaws. The person writing the report must be very familiar with the appropriate lexicon to use regarding the type of object, as well as have excellent visual skills. Both written notes and record photographs are taken.

Volunteers from the Fashion Institute of Technology’s graduate program in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory and Museum Practice help out with this time consuming process. Nicole writes the condition report for a skirt from Rodarte’s Fall/Winter 2008 collection while Sarah photographs a jacket from the Fall/Winter 2009 collection.

I was lucky enough to have secured the Carnegie mansion’s “Teak Room” for dressing the mannequins. This moody and mysterious room with its amazing wood carvings and stenciled wall paper is the perfect place to be dressing Rodarte’s most deconstructed and destroyed pieces.

Volunteer Alexis writing condition reports in the “Teak Room”. Notice the Kirkwood and Louboutin shoes on the teak alter…a fitting place for such creations I think.

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