RHS Exhibit Features Fashion as Art 


“Threads of Imagination,” an exhibit exploring fashion as an art form through the creative work of five Beverly/Morgan Park artists, one of whom was an historical figure, continues at Ridge Historical Society, 10621 S. Seeley. Info: 773-881-1675 or ridgehistory@hotmail.com. 

Alla Ripley Bannister (1867-1948) was a famous fashion designer who lived at 1620 West 102nd Street in the early 1900s. She used the professional name “Madame Ripley” and had a studio on Michigan Avenue. She was a savvy businesswoman and marketer. Through her organization, the Fashion Art League of America, she promoted “American designs for American women,” helping to establish U. S. designers in the global fashion industry. The RHS exhibit profiles Ripley, her family and career. 

Ripley’s husband was architect George S. Bannister, who designed and built the Dickey-Harris House at 10856 S. Longwood Drive, where Paul P. Harris, the founder of Rotary International lived for many years.  Bannister also designed the American Craftsman-style home for his family on 102nd Street.  

Contemporary artist Judie Anderson worked as a fashion illustrator for Chicago’s American newspaper in the 1960s, and work from this period of her career is on display at RHSAnderson and her husband, the late Bill Anderson, started the first school of the arts at the Beverly Arts Center in 1972. Anderson had a 20-year career with the Chicago Tribune, retiring as director of design. Today she continues watercolor painting, teaching and exhibiting. 

Maggie O’Reilly grew up on the Ridge and now raises her own family here. The RHS exhibit features pieces from her two companies, Maggy May & Co., a girls’ clothing line; and the MAYTA Collection, which works with artisans in Morocco and Peru to create handcrafted fashion and household accessories. MAYTA is a member of Chicago Fair Trade, a coalition to increase support for fair trade practices.     

Two of Sandra Leonard’s “sculptural costumes,” fashions she creates that turn the human form into sculpture, are on display. Her costumes appear internationally in performance art productions, improvised theater, alternative fashion shows and installation projects. She has designed interactive costumes for children for the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Art Institute of Chicago.   

Nicole Burns of Ni Bu Design is also a Ridge native now raising her own daughter here. She incorporates vintage fabrics and fashions into new art forms. Her work in the exhibit includes clothing, bags, dolls and sculptures. She also collects vintage sewing items and some of these are on display, bringing viewers back full circle to 100 years ago when Madame Alla Ripley was producing fashions.     

Another historic feature of the exhibit is a section on the “silk connection.” Prominent silk merchants connected to the Belding and Brothers silk business made their homes in North Beverly beginning in the late 1800s. Vintage silk items as well as information on the families are displayed. 

Carol Flynn is guest Curator for the exhibit, and researcher/writer for the Alla Ripley Bannister section. 

Linda Lamberty, RHS Historian, is the designer of the exhibit. She reached out to Alla’s family through the website Ancestry.com, and great-niece Lanora Harris King has shared family photographs and information for the exhibit. 

RHS is located at 10621 S. Seeley Ave. Open hours for the exhibit will be posted on the RHS Facebook page and RHS website at www.ridgehistoricalsociety.org 

On Sun., Nov. 17, 2 p.m. at RHS, Judie Anderson will discuss her career in the newspaper industry, and will demonstrate a fashion illustration, which a lucky member of the audience will win to take home. Admission is $10Reservations: 773881-1675 or ridgehistory@hotmail.com. 


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