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Utah State University Professor Nancy Hills Featured in 'Period Ideas'

Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014

USU professor Nancy Hills and models in historic dresses

USU theatre arts professor Nancy Hills (center) surrounded by models wearing the historical dresses that were made using historical patterns replicated by Hills.

Professor Nancy Hills from Utah State University’s Department of Theatre Arts in the Caine College of the Arts was featured in the September issue of Period Ideas Magazine, published monthly in Great Britain.

As the theatre arts department costumer designer, Hills has an extensive background in theater costume design and said historic costume has always been a large part of that.

In this ambitious project, Hills reconstructed 11 dresses from the Charles Paget Wade Costume Collection for an exhibit called “Symphony in White.”

Hills told Period Ideas that the project came about when she met Althea McKenzie, curator of the Wade collection, five years ago.

“I applied for a grant for this project and I feel thrilled that I secured it,” said Hills. “A freelance costumier and some of my graduate students made the garments from the patterns I recreated.”

Hills also told the magazine that she was very impressed with the way the patterns had been manipulated. She described one example.

“The sleeve was cut on the bias and the seam was actually hidden under a cap sleeve,” she said. “It was a snug fit from elbow to wrist with a hunk of selvedge tucked into the cap sleeve. The maker didn’t waste a scrap of fabric!”

Nicholas Morrison, senior associate dean in USU’s Caine College of the Arts thinks Hills’ spread in Period Ideas is gorgeous.

“Nancy gave a great faculty forum talk about the work she has been doing,” said Morrison. “We are excited for her to share her findings with our students.”

The dresses Hills’ patterns replicated are on display in Britain at Berrington Hall near Leominster in the “Symphony in White” exhibit that can be seen through Dec. 23. The reinterpretations range from 1780 to 1940.

Hills is on sabbatical leave from Utah State University for the academic year 2014-15.

Related links:

Contact: Denise Albiston, 435-797-1500,

Writer: Whitney Schulte, 435-797-9203,

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