Museum exhibit shows evolution of fashion.

Fashion changes from decade to decade. This is often due to economic factors, social movements, the popular culture and the evolution of materials and commerce.
Fashion evolves from decade to decade. This is often due to economic factors, social movements, the popular culture and changes in materials, manufacturing and commerce.

A new exhibition at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park concerns the fascinating evolution of fashion over the past nine decades. Titled Fashion Redux: 90 Year of Fashion, this exhibition includes a “timeline of garments” from the museum’s collection, plus a number of pieces that were created by fashion students who are studying at Mesa College. The dresses these talented students created are a unique fusion of the past and present.

I confess that I have no fashion sense. I’m content to wear blue jeans every day of the year. When they become a bit too scruffy, I buy a cheap new pair. I really have no right to proclaim anything about fashion.

But I’ve always been deeply fascinated by human creativity. And the origin, formulation and application of an aesthetic sense. And the twists and turns of history, of course.

Anyone who is curious about fashion and its evolution should head over to The San Diego History Center. The museum will be having a Grand Reveal Fashion Show on April 26, where you can meet some of the Mesa College fashion students and instructors. They’re also having a series of different demonstrations. You can find out more here.

Fashion during the past 90 years is presented in a special exhibit at the San Diego History Center. Included is the work of students from Mesa College, who created new designs based on old trends.
Fashion during the past 90 years is presented in a special exhibit at the San Diego History Center. Included is the work of students from Mesa College, who created new designs based on old trends.
Photographs on the wall are from the collection of the San Diego History Center. They were taken by Charles Schneider, who during his long career contracted with UPI photographing film stars and entertainers.
Photographs on the wall are from the collection of the San Diego History Center. They were taken by Charles Schneider, who during his long career contracted with United Press International, photographing film stars and entertainers.
This 1940's style dress was created by student designer Anna Acosta. In that decade garments were often designed to soften a woman's shape, create a sense of elegance.
This 1940’s style dress was created by student designer Anna Acosta. In that decade garments were often designed to soften a woman’s shape, and achieve a sense of elegance.
An activity center at the exhibition encourages kids to try their own hand and eye at fashion design. A nearby nook is the setting for fashion demonstrations by students and instructors from the San Diego Mesa College Fashion Program.
An activity station at the exhibition encourages kids to try their own hand and eye at fashion design. A nearby nook is the setting for fashion demonstrations by students and instructors from the San Diego Mesa College Fashion Program.
This garment reflects the mid-2000's, when the boho style reached its pinnacle. This dress was designed by student Zari Wabab.
This garment reflects the mid-2000’s, when the boho style reached its pinnacle. This dress was designed by student Zari Wabab.
The San Diego History Center should be the destination of anyone interested in the past, including fashion trends.
The San Diego History Center should be the destination of anyone interested in the past, including fashion trends.
This draped nylon and taffeta gown reflects the Golden Age of Hollywood during the 1930's and the Great Depression. Like an uplifting dream in those difficult times. Created by student designer Stephanie Castro.
This draped nylon and taffeta gown reflects the Golden Age of Hollywood during the 1930’s and the Great Depression. It seemed like a dream in that difficult era. Created by student designer Stephanie Castro.
This garment in the museum's collection represents the 1990's, a time when fashion evolved as the internet gained traction, and working from home and globalism began their rise.
This garment in the museum’s collection represents the 1990’s, a time when fashion evolved as the internet gained traction, and working from home and globalism began their rise.
Dresses from the past nine decades are like a timeline representing evolving culture and various impacts of technology.
Dresses from the past nine decades are arranged as a timeline, each representing the evolving culture and various impacts of technology.

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Elegantly dressed skeletons discovered in old hotel!

Two elegantly dressed skeletons can be seen seated just inside the front entrance of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town.
Two elegantly dressed skeletons have been discovered seated inside the front entrance of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town.

I was stunned to observe that a large number of skeletons have been discovered in an old San Diego hotel. The Cosmopolitan Hotel, to be exact. The elegantly dressed skeletons, wearing frilly dresses or top hats, were seen standing about the hotel’s entrance, in the saloon, even seated on chairs behind a large wedding cake.

Huh?

I’m just having a bit of fun! The Cosmopolitan Hotel is part of Old Town, and dozens of elegantly dressed skeletons appear in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park every year as Día de los Muertos approaches.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is actually a celebration of ancestors and loved family members who have passed away. In Mexico, the deceased are remembered and prayed for, and certain joyful traditions are observed. One unusual tradition is derived from La Calavera Catrina, a famous etching by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada, which depicts a female skeleton dressed in a fancy hat. Even though the image was originally created as satire, the Catrina has become a familiar sight in many places where Día de los Muertos is observed.

I snapped these photos at the historic Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town. The original building dates back to the late 1820s, when the wealthy Californio cattle rancher Juan Bandini built a “mansion” among the simple adobes in Old Town. When Bandini’s fortunes faded, he sold the house to Albert Seeley in 1869, who built a second story and converted the house into a hotel for a new San Diego stagecoach stop, which he also built nearby.

I believe I photographed a couple of the same skeletons a year or two ago, but I simply couldn’t help myself. They’re so much fun!

A covered wagon in front of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
A covered wagon in front of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
In celebration of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, two lady skeletons wearing frilly dresses greet visitors to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Here's one.
In celebration of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, two lady skeletons wearing frilly dresses greet visitors to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Here’s one!
Here's the other!
Here’s the other!
Inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel's saloon, more extremely elegant but skeletal customers are observed.
Inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s saloon, another lavishly elegant but skeletal customer is observed.
A shy skeleton in quite fancy attire stands silently in the corner of the Old West 1800s saloon.
A shy skeleton in very fancy attire stands silently in the corner of the Old West 1800s saloon.
A bony customer at the bar. That must have been a stiff drink.
A bony customer at the bar. That must have been a stiff drink.
A wedding cake for a skeleton bride and groom! Día de los Muertos is a joyful holiday that celebrates past life.
A wedding cake for a skeleton bride and groom! Día de los Muertos is a joyful holiday that celebrates the past lives of loved ones.

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Help protect the environment: Cool ideas at EarthFair.

Use cans and old kitchen tools for plant pots! Dryer lint as cotton with nail polish remover to take off polish!
Use cans and old kitchen tools for plant pots! Dryer lint as cotton with nail polish remover to take off polish!

Late this morning, I walked from Cortez Hill to the 2016 EarthFair in Balboa Park. The cool event, corresponding with Earth Day, is the largest annual environmental fair in the world!

Thousands turned out for 2016 EarthFair in Balboa Park, where San Diego celebrates Earth Day and learns how to help the environment.
Thousands turned out today for the 2016 EarthFair in Balboa Park.  San Diego residents celebrated Earth Day and learned how to help protect the environment.

I blogged about EarthFair the last couple of years and showed you a little bit of almost everything–so this time I decided to take a different, more practical approach. As I walked through San Diego’s garden-like Balboa Park, I searched the many exhibits for useful ideas about things we can do in our daily lives to protect the environment.

Here are a few things I found. Please read the captions! And feel free to share!

1. Ideas for creatively repurposing used household items.

One major theme of EarthFair was re-using and repurposing old items that might otherwise be thrown away. I noted some cool ideas and took pics!

Poster shows many creative repurposing ideas! Click photo to enlarge and read some cool, very unusual ideas that you might try!
Poster shows many creative repurposing ideas! Click photo to enlarge and read some cool, very unusual ideas that you might try!
These shiny, colorful handbags were made from recycled Kool-Aid and Capri Sun packets!
These shiny, colorful handbags were made from recycled Kool-Aid and Capri Sun packets!
Take old clothes to make new clothes for homeless and toys for kids.
Take old clothes to make new clothes for homeless and toys for kids.
Recycling vintage fabric into baby bibs.
Recycling vintage fabric into baby bibs.
Turn old sweaters into beautiful pillows.
Turn old sweaters into beautiful pillows.
People check out the world's largest fair celebrating Earth Day--EarthFair in San Diego's sunny Balboa Park!
People check out the world’s largest festival celebrating Earth Day–EarthFair in San Diego’s sunny Balboa Park!

2. Tasty ways to use up excess fruits and vegetables.

One display created by the County of San Diego provided excellent information about how to use leftover or surplus fruits and vegetables, to avoid unnecessary waste. Those pics came out blurry, so here’s what I noted:

Spinach–add to sandwiches, soups, egg dishes, pasta or smoothies.

Bananas–add to cereal, yogurt or smoothies. Blend frozen bananas with milk and vanilla for a healthy dessert.

Citrus–add to green or fruit salads, soups, pasta or sauces. Add peels to vinegar for a simple household cleaner.

Tomatoes–add to salads, egg dishes, sandwiches or pasta. Use to make fresh salsa, tomato sauce or bruschetta.

Onions–add to salads, soups, egg dishes, sandwiches or stir-fry. Pickle red onions. Make onion preserves.

Peppers–add to sandwiches, salads, egg dishes or stir-fry. Steam and puree to make soup or a sauce for meat or pasta.

Avocados–add to smoothies, salads, sandwiches, egg dishes or baked goods. Spread on toast. Use in pasta sauce with lemon, garlic, oil and basil.

Beets–add to salads, soups or stir-fry. Use roasted beets in place of meat on sandwiches.

Broccoli and Cauliflower–add to salads, soups, egg dishes or stir-fry. Add finely chopped or grated cauliflower to rice.

Berries–add to fruit or green salads, hot or cold cereals, smoothies or yogurt. Use in a fruit salsa served with bread or chips.

Potatoes–add to salads, soups or egg dishes. Use russet potatoes to make potato skins. Use leftover baked potatoes to make hashbrowns.

Corn–add to soups or salads. Use to make a fresh corn salsa. Bake into cornbread or potato pancakes.

3. Things you can do to help protect the environment–and save money!

Here are a few displays I photographed that contained some great advice! Click the photos to enlarge them!

Compost can be made with shredded paper, grass clippings, wood chips, garden leftovers, leaves, livestock manure, chopped up yard debris and used coffee grounds.
Compost can be made with shredded paper, grass clippings, wood chips, garden leftovers, leaves, livestock manure, chopped up yard debris and used coffee grounds.
To save energy, use efficient lighting, adjust your thermostat, install solar, reduce driving, and keep you car maintained and tires properly inflated.
To save energy, use efficient lighting, adjust your thermostat, install solar, reduce driving, and keep your car maintained and tires properly inflated.
Check to see if your city offers free utility inspections and efficiency analysis. In San Diego, a free water survey program is available.
Check to see if your city offers free utility inspections and efficiency analysis. In San Diego, a free water survey program is available.
Ride a bicycle to work! In San Diego, Bike to Work Day in 2016 is Friday, May 20. You might consider walking or taking public transit, too!
Ride a bicycle to work! In San Diego, Bike to Work Day in 2016 is Friday, May 20. You might consider walking or taking public transit, too!
Many San Diegans saved energy, reduced air pollution and stayed healthy by riding their bicycles to EarthFair!
Many San Diegans saved energy, reduced air pollution and stayed healthy by riding their bicycles to EarthFair!

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Spinning yarns (and twine) in old San Diego.

Yarns dyed many different colors out on display in San Diego's Old Town.
Yarns dyed many different colors out on display in San Diego’s Old Town.

One more quick post from today’s stroll through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. After going on the free walking tour, which I do every few years to jiggle my memory, I observed that a couple of unique exhibits were out on public display. One concerned yarn, the other twine. A “string” of coincidence too good not to blog about!

During the tour, our knowledgeable guide explained how red dye in the olden days was derived from a particular insect–the cochineal. The cochineal is a beetle that can be found on prickly pears, a cactus which grows abundantly in arid San Diego. While we watched, the guide plucked one from a prickly pear next to the Casa de Estudillo, then crushed it. His fingers turned bright purple from the beetle juice! (He explained the British Red Coats dyed their uniforms with cochineal, but Purple Coats didn’t sound quite so fierce.)

Tour guide about ready to make some red dye.
Tour guide ready to produce some reddish dye.

After the tour ended, two volunteers inside the Casa de Estudillo were demonstrating how yarn used to be made. To dye the fibers, both cochineal and indigo dye were commonly used. A spinning wheel served to demonstrate the hard work required to live comfortably before our more modern conveniences.

La Casa de Estudillo, an elegant house built in the early 1800s by a wealthy Californio who owned several large ranchos in Southern California.
La Casa de Estudillo, an elegant adobe house built in 1827 by a wealthy Californio family that owned several large ranchos in Southern California.
Volunteers in costume told me a little about San Diego's complex, fascinating history.
Volunteers in costume with baskets of color.  They told me some yarns concerning San Diego’s complex, fascinating history.
State Park volunteers describe life in early San Diego, when spinning wheels were common household objects.
State Park volunteers describe life in early San Diego, when spinning wheels were common household objects.

Out in one corner of Old Town’s big central plaza, some friendly Mormons were demonstrating the making of twine. Like the native prickly pear, yucca plants have always been plentiful in San Diego’s desert-like environment. The tough fibers in the leaves, once extracted, are dried and then twisted using a simple mechanism to create primitive but very practical twine or rope.

Making twine used to involve twisting dried fibers from native yucca plants.
Making twine involved twisting fibers found in native yucca plants.
Mormon guy smiles as he exhibits rope-making in Old Town. The Mormon Battalion was one of many diverse participants in San Diego's early history.
Mormon guy smiles as he exhibits rope-making in Old Town. The Mormon Battalion was one of many diverse participants in San Diego’s early history.

Someday I’ll probably blog about the amazing, hour-long Old Town walking tour. I need some more photos and many more notes before I undertake that, however!

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Victorians, suffragettes and steampunk in a park!

San Diego Costume Guild members help Balboa Park celebrate its centennial.
San Diego Costume Guild members help Balboa Park celebrate its centennial.

Today a really cool event was held in San Diego called the Balboa Park Centennial Informal Gathering. A bunch of history lovers, park supporters, assorted clubs and organizations (including the San Diego Costume Guild) gathered together in Balboa Park and everyone wore period attire. The idea was to recreate what Balboa Park might have looked like one hundred years ago, when the 1915 Panama-California Exposition opened.

During my walk through the park, I saw folks everywhere wearing fancy dresses and hats . . . carrying parasols . . . sporting old-fashioned police and military uniforms . . . wearing suffragette sashes or steampunk goggles . . . riding high-wheeled penny-farthing bicycles . . . and lots of puzzled tourists looking about in complete astonishment. It was great!

Balboa Park Centennial Celebration marks 100 years of a truly amazing place.
Balboa Park Centennial Celebration marks the 100 year anniversary of an amazing place.
Folks in old-fashioned dresses and nostalgic garb were walking up and down El Prado.
Folks in old-fashioned dresses and nostalgic garb were walking up and down El Prado.
This 19th century fashion predates 1915, the year of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park,
This 19th century fashion predates 1915, the year of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park,
Two elegant ladies paused to smile for my camera in the park's central plaza.
Two elegant ladies paused to smile for my camera in the park’s big central plaza.
Some people dressed for the occasion enjoying the warm San Diego sunshine.
Some people dressed for the occasion were enjoying the warm San Diego sunshine.
Lots of very fancy hats could be seen everywhere I turned.
Lots of very fancy hats could be seen everywhere I turned.
Many in historical costumes would reenact a political march in support of Votes For Women.
Later in the afternoon, folks wearing historical costumes would reenact a political march supporting Votes For Women.
Two suffragettes with Votes For Women sashes follow a guy dressed in World War I era military uniform.
Two suffragettes with Votes For Women sashes follow a guy dressed in World War I era military uniform.
Back in 1915, the right for women to vote was an important issue and movement.
Back in 1915, the right for women to vote was an important issue and movement.
A display in the Balboa Park Club building included Women's Rights memorabilia from a hundred years ago.
A display in the Balboa Park Club building included Women’s Rights memorabilia from a hundred years ago.
Some people had steampunk goggles in the International Cottages area, where event participants converged.
A few people sported steampunk goggles. Event participants converged on the International Cottages lawn area.
Visitors from Balboa Park's past seem to come to life before my very eyes.
Visitors from Balboa Park’s past seem to come to life before my very eyes.
A bustle of Victorian activity in front of the House of England cottage.
A bustle of Victorian activity in front of the House of England cottage.

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Ghosts from history and a walk through Old Town.

ghost from history walks through old town

No, that isn’t really a ghost. At least, I don’t think so!

This cool photo shows a fellow dressed like an early resident of San Diego. I spotted him walking through Old Town first thing in the morning, before the daily throng of tourists began to filter in.

You can walk with a costumed tour guide and learn all about the early history of San Diego, back when the tiny, seldom-visited town belonged to Spain, then Mexico, then finally the United States. The hour-long walking tour is free and begins at the Robinson-Rose House at the northwest end of the large central plaza. Several historic buildings and interesting museums are visited during the leisurely tour. Whether or not you see a ghost might depend on your imagination!  The walking tours begin at 11 am and 2 pm.

Tour guide shows native Lemonade Berry near Casa de Estudillo in Old Town.
Tour guide shows native Lemonade Berry near Casa de Estudillo in Old Town.
Friendly volunteer tour guide sums up San Diego's early history at end of a fascinating one hour tour.
Friendly volunteer tour guide sums up San Diego’s early history at end of a fascinating one hour tour.