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Staff Spotlight: Jacqueline WayneGuite

March 11, 2014
By Hannah Lorenz

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a garment must be worth a million.

Jacqueline WayneGuite, collection manager for Fashion Studies, oversees the care of Columbia’s 6,000+ historical, cultural and designer garments and accessories, as well as a paper collection known as the research center that includes historical patterns, archived magazines (the oldest is a Godey’s Lady’s Book from 1844), designer lookbooks and more.

“Inspiration, technique, history… It’s kind of limitless, what you can learn from the collection,” WayneGuite says.

Classes ranging from history to illustration (and, of course, fashion) often visit the hands-on collection, and students can make individual appointments as well. The research center is open for walk-ins Monday-Thursday.

Here, WayneGuite talks about her favorite item in the collection; her special interest in suffragist dress; and some of the most popular multicultural pieces.

We just got a Mariano Fortuny in the collection. He has two popular styles: the Delphos gown and the Peplos. We just added a Peplos to the collection. They’re pleated [vertically] from neckline to hem, and they were supposed to be worn without a corset. It’s made out of beautiful silk and it’s these tiny little pleats, so when you put [the gown] on, they expand and contract based on the woman’s shape.
The Delphos came out in 1907; our [Peplos] is from 1917. At the time, these were things that only the most avant-garde, bohemian, elite women were wearing. To be wearing a dress uncorseted was quite revolutionary.
When it arrived, I giggled like a schoolgirl. It arrived when we were in a meeting and I was so giddy with delight.

They were definitely trying to show their femininity through dress. The opponents to women’s suffrage were saying that these women want to usurp the role of men, that they’re anti-feminine. To combat that image, a lot of them purposefully dressed overtly feminine.
In the teens, there was a dress called the lingerie dress. They’re white, frilly, lacy dresses. It’s funny because it’s so different from the ‘70s and feminism; [the majority of suffragists] were saying, “We just want to vote. That’s all. We don’t want to go to work, we still want to raise the children, we still will do all the cooking and cleaning, just let us vote.”
There’s a whole array [of suffragists]. You have the leaders who are very masculine, you have the core that is very feminine, and then you have the theatrics who are more sexy.

I’d say we represent a good portion of the world. Certainly every continent except Antarctica is represented. We have a couple of bridal kimono—the proper term is uchikake kimono. They’re always real stunners because they’re huge kimono, just really beautiful, both of them. One of them has cranes and flowers, and the other one is printed with a gold, floral motif.
We have a parka from the Aleutian Islands, so it’s Inuit in origin, and it’s made with seal intestine. A gut parka is what they’re frequently referred to as, and ours is over 100 years old, so that’s always a crowd pleaser or a wower.