Revisiting the Splendor of the Original Roaring 20s at Hillwood

There was all that jazz and enough razzle to dazzle. Society was effervescent, parties were popping, and everything was roaring around the 1920s. And all the while, Marjorie Merriweather Post was not only serving as a trendsetter and tastemaker, but she was collecting enough attire and art not only to embody the essence of the age but to catalog it.

The latest collection on view at Post’s famed former DC estate, Hillwood, showcases her penchant for design, decor, and dressing: Roaring Twenties: The Life and Style of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

“During the 1920s, Marjorie Post collected French decorative art, attained business success, managed remarkable homes, and became a fashion icon on best-dressed lists,” said Megan Martinelli, exhibition curator. “Her engagement in all these spheres reflects the spirit of the 1920s and the decade’s contributions to art, design, and social change.”

The exhibit boasts a number of glamorous gowns worn by Post herself during this time. With a lavish social agenda, Post and her family often attended events and fundraisers which demanded splendid gowns in trendy styles like drop-waist, flapper, fancy-dress ball costumes, and dramatic capes. Many on view — and exquisitely maintained — were commissioned from New York’s finest dressmakers and boutiques, including Bergdorf Goodman, Madame Frances, and Thurn.

Additionally, there are stylish French 18th-century furnishings that once adorned her multiple residences, as well as collections of evening bags, exotic gems, and other fancy accoutrements that transplant modern-day guests back to the original Roaring Twenties and place within it one of the era’s most prestigious women.

“Marjorie Post was a leading influencer throughout the twentieth century,” Kate Markert, Hillwood’s executive director, explains. “The 1920s was a seminal decade for her as she developed into the icon we know her as today—a collector, philanthropist, humanitarian, and businesswoman, determined to do good and use her means to benefit others.”

She was a legend at the center of the splendor the age, but luckily for those visiting almost a hundred years later, she also collected and preserved so many objects that exemplify the elegance of the 1920s. And she had some lofty criteria for collecting — the objects must be finely crafted, exquisitely made, and preferably have royal connections.

With these items gathered together for the first time at Hillwood, Roaring Twenties: The Life and Style of Marjorie Merriweather Post will be available at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens from June 12, 2021, to January 16, 2022. Advanced reservations may be required to preserve distancing. $18, $15 seniors, $10 college students, $5 age 6-18.

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