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March 11, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Whether you rock leggings and Uggs or a leather jacket and gloves, it’s all fashion. And it’s exactly what Elizabeth DeMaria lives for.
DeMaria serves as the curator of the Costume Museum and Research Library at Stephens College and is now the digital archivist for the Web site devoted to the museum’s extensive fashion collection.
DeMaria came on board in 2006, one year after Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design and Fashion, received a grant for the Web site where Stephens students as well as the general public can view the museum’s fashion collections from the past. “It looks at what people were wearing during that time,” DeMaria says. “How many memories do you have of what was worn when you were growing up? These influences are often coming from your music icons like Madonna and Michael Jackson. This is something I hope gets (people) thinking about what influences them.”
Her studies in the history of dress have set the stage for DeMaria’s progression at Stephens. Right now she is focused on improving the online museum by adding more items. The site, emuseum.stephens.edu, launched Jan. 23 and features about 100 garments. Designers in the collection include Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci and Claire McCardell. Visitors are able to search a specific term, such as “dress,” and not only view the items but also zoom in up to six times — close enough to see the woven threads of the garment. With the help of the tool, users can view treasures such as the printed signature of Emilio Pucci hidden in each of his pieces.
DeMaria looks toward the future as she finds other ways to implement technology at Stephens and appeal to younger generations. Now, MP4 players offer audio-visual material as museum attendees view the garments.
“We want everyone to be involved and interact with the garments,” she says. “People are in the now. They react to (that interaction).”
DeMaria and McMurry see the online costume library as a step in the right direction for the school. “We’re not using Avatars yet,” McMurry says with a chuckle. “But we’re not too far away.”