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Agricultural Design: Creating Fashion from Fruit, Vegetables, and Flowers

What's Inside this Collection.

Agricultural Design: Creating Fashion from Fruit, Vegetables, and Flowers

This collection from the Weslaco Museum features photographs from Weslaco's annual "Birthday Party" fashion show, which debuted in 1929. Organized by the Chamber of Commerce to highlight the fruit and vegetables grown in the Rio Grande Valley, area citizens created and modeled clothing made from local fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Area organizations, individuals, and women's clubs would donate hundreds of hours to create these agricultural and fashion wonders. Clubs that participated with entries included groups like the Lions Club, the Business and Professional Women's Club, Harlingen Garden Club, Edinburg Garden Club, Kiwanis Club, Women's Study Club, the National Bank of Weslaco, Literary Review Club, Mercedes Garden Club, Beta Sigma Phi Club, Fine Arts Club, Pharr Demonstration Club, the Donna Garden Club, and many others.

Common materials used in constructing the outfits included an ingenious array of living materials: cotton seed, corn, corn husks, corn cobs, popcorn, onion seed, beets, turnips, carrots, bell peppers, chili peppers, pumpkin seeds, turnips, onions, eggplant, grapefruit peel, tangerine seeds, cabbage leaves, white beans, parsley, alfalfa, cattail leaves, poinsettia leaves, pampas grass, mums, orchids, green fern, acalpha leaves, bachelor buttons, bougainvillea, and tulips.

The extent of work and materials that went into these costumes is illustrated by the Dutch costume modeled by Ann Frizzell: "Ann is representing the American Legion. The Dutch costume skirt was of delicate pink, made from five quarts of crushed bachelor button petals. The bodice was made from 2,000 purple bougainvillea blossoms and the blouse of 583 white periwinkles. The latter flower was used for her cap and apron, requiring 556 blossoms. The skirt featured a border of lighter pink, embossed with tulips made from banana leaves and hibiscus petals. Trimming on neckline and sleeves, in five point star design, were created by using 150 inverted bougainvillea centers. Wooden shoes were made of Rhodes grass bloom. Cost: $17.08. Time: 723 hours."