— by Jordan Cameron, Marketing & Communications Specialist
Arianna Baback and Jane Young Likens working with a coat on a dress form

Bundle Up! Outerwear from the 19th–20th Centuries is comprised of garments and accessories from Moore’s Historic Costume Collection, bequeathed to the college in 1940 by Lynda Eckendorf Hering (b. 1853, d. 1940). 

Join us for an opening reception on Friday, November 17 from 5–7:30 pm in The Galleries at Moore, featuring live entertainment and refreshments. This event is free and open to the public—RSVP today.  

Celebrate Moore's Costume Collection at our opening reception  Bundle Up! Outerwear from the 19th-20th Centuries  Friday, November 17, 2023 The Galleries at Moore 1916 Race Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 Registration: 5-6pm Gallery Viewing: 6-7:30pm

At the start of a new semester in 2019, Jane Young Likens ’66 was teaching a fashion history class when she decided to bring out one of the oldest garments from the College’s historic costume collection, to assist in a lesson about hand stitching. 

“I was hoping to connect with the students who were interested in costume history—I thought, there’s always at least one or two,” she says. “I wanted to find them and give them a chance to work with the clothes.” 

Likens asked if anyone in the class wanted to take a chance at guessing when the dress was made. At first, she was met with silence, until, suddenly, a voice rang out: “1840s.” Bingo. The voice belonged to Arianna Baback ’23, then a sophomore transfer student. 

“I was really impressed,” Likens says, “because as a sophomore, I would never have been able to date that dress. I was so impressed with her knowledge.” 

That was the start of the connection between the two. They would go on to work together, handling the historic garments in Moore’s costume collection, and put together two exhibitions, including the upcoming Bundle Up! Outerwear from the 19th–20th Centuries, on view in The Galleries at Moore from November 17, 2023 to January 16, 2024.

Arianna Baback working on a historic garment from the costume closet

Baback has been interested in fashion history for as long as she can remember, even before finding her way to Moore. She describes much of her education on the topic as self-taught. 

“I would just read books because it always interested me. I grew up very influenced by my grandparents and old Hollywood,” Baback explains. “On the first day I went into Moore’s historic costume closet, I learned that this is a career path. I always loved historic clothing but I was never told that I could do this for a living. That was the first thing I learned from Jane: that this is a real career option and that I could do it.” 

It felt like the stars had aligned. Likens found a student who wanted to work in this realm, and Baback found a priceless opportunity to gain experience with historical clothing. 

“From the minute I met Arianna, I had full confidence that I could just give her a key for the closet and she could move in. And she practically did!” Likens says. “Not only was she eager to learn, but she brought a lot to it. I often defer to her about dates of clothes because she knows that information with more speed and accuracy than I do.”

Just like Baback, fashion history interested Likens during her time as a Moore student, from 1962–66, and she recalls that she utilized the costume collection during her education. But Likens never knew the origins of the collection until 2019. 

“When I started doing this work, I was looking through everything I could think of to figure out who gave Moore this collection,” Likens recalls. “I had all these books, and one of them said that the collection of historic clothing was bequeathed by Mrs. George Hering—but it was still the man’s name. Then I found a brochure which stated that her name was Lynda Augusta Eckendorf Hering, and at her death, she had given a prize to the Fashion department. It described the pieces of clothing and said she was a residence director. There was the information I had been searching for, in my living room on a Sunday night! I was beside myself; I was so excited. It felt personal. I developed an affection for her because I thought it was so cool that she collected all these beautiful clothes.” 

Jane Young Likens working on a historic garment from the costume closet

“I think of the people who wore the clothes, who made the clothes, the people who sold it,” Baback says, describing her own affinity for the collection. “It doesn’t stop at what [the garment] is made out of, or how it was made or when. It tells the story of the people who were involved in its life before it arrived here.” 

Despite the fact that Likens comes to the partnership with decades of experience and Baback is just starting out in her career, they both remark that they have always felt like equals. 

“I told Arianna when we first started the adventure for this show: We’re going to be co-curators on this, not curator and assistant curator. Because she has really ignited the whole show,” Likens explains. “We wanted to show a full spectrum of color, but I started putting the coats together, and I realized there were some colors missing. I was starting to think about buying new coats. Then all of a sudden, Arianna looked at me and said, ‘Are you really married to this color story?’” 

“I noticed we already had this wonderful autumnal color scheme with reds and oranges and maroons and pinks,” Baback explains. “[I said,] let’s lean into that.” 

“Typically, no younger person in this kind of situation would ever have said to the older person, ‘Do you really want to stick with this?’” Likens says. “I was so taken with her confidence and her freedom to be completely honest with me about that. And it made the whole difference. It’s nice to learn from other people when you’re 78 years old.”

For both Likens and Baback, the combined effort to show off these stunning historical garments to Moore’s community and the greater public is a true labor of love.

“One thing that has always engaged me about this field is that it’s endless learning. We are both grateful for the opportunity to work with things that we love. Neither of us have to do this. It’s something we love and care about,” Likens says. “There’s something they say on WRTI, the classical radio station: ‘We’re here to remind you that classical music was once new.’ And I love that because it’s such a perfect example of what we do.”

“I think the best education, aside from working in the closet, was what I taught myself about fashion history,” Baback says. “I’ve had friends who say that it sounds like a lot of extra work but I think it’s only work if you don’t really love it.”