September 2, 2015 Ingénue to Icon" Lecture by Howard Vincent Kurtz, Oct. 21

70 Years of Fashion from the Collection of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Kathy Woodrell (202) 707-0945

Howard Vincent Kurtz, curator of costumes and textiles at the Hillwood Museum and Gardens, will discuss his book “Ingénue to Icon: 70 Years of Fashion from the Collection of Marjorie Merriweather Post” at the Library of Congress on Oct. 21. The book accompanies an exhibition of the same title at Hillwood until Dec. 31, 2015.

The lecture by Kurtz will take place at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 21, in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. A book sale and signing will follow. The lecture is hosted by the Humanities and Social Sciences Division at the Library of Congress.

At the age of 27, Marjorie Merriweather Post took ownership of the $20 million Post cereal company that later became the General Foods Corporation. Post developed her sense of style and her passion for exquisite collections early, as evidenced by her purchases of Sevres porcelain, French Louis XIV furnishings, and decorative arts from Imperial Russia. Well-traveled and extraordinarily generous, Post purchased Hillwood, her residence in Washington, D.C., in 1955, where she hosted gatherings and events for politicians, diplomats and the social elite. She also invited veterans and military families for tea and entertainment on the wooded lawn of Hillwood.

Post left more than 175 dresses and more than 300 fashion accessories, including custom-made hats, purses and shoes, to Hillwood Museum upon her death. Her carefully curated wardrobe was couture and her jewelry selections were large and extravagant. Kurtz will discuss Post’s iconic wardrobe for every season. Currently, Post’s spring and summer clothing is on exhibit at Hillwood; beginning Oct. 1, her fall and winter collections will be featured.

Kurtz is a professor of theater at George Mason University, where he teaches costume design, fashion history and patternmaking. An award-winning theatrical costumer, Kurtz has received the George Mason University Outstanding Excellence in Teaching Award, the Fenwick Library Fellowship for Research Award and numerous outstanding service awards during his distinguished career.

In addition to his academic and professional work, Kurtz is the associate curator of costumes and textiles at the Hillwood Museum and Gardens. He has curated two previous exhibitions about the Post family costumes: “Invitation to the Ball: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Fancy Dress Costumes of the 1920s” and “Wedding Belles: Bridal Fashions form the Marjorie Merriweather Post Family, 1874-1958.” “Invitation to the Ball” is a traveling exhibition in the United States.

The Humanities and Social Sciences Division, located in the Main Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson building, provides reference services and collection development for subjects that encompass information in all formats for arts, humanities, social sciences, local history and genealogy. Formats include digital, print, electronic databases, microforms and machine-readable collections. The division regularly sponsors programs in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s first-established federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at


PR 15-152
ISSN 0731-3527