Robes politiques – Women Power Fashion

19.03.2021 – 06.02.2022

50 years of voting rights for women in Switzerland: On the occasion of the anniversary, the textile museum presents costumes and accessories from the period from 1600 to the present day that symbolise women’s claim to power and female representation of power against a backdrop of changing society, politics and fashion.

The exhibition ‘Robes politiques’ focuses on the public perception of important women, whose appearance on the political stage then and now was and is met not only with applause, but often with criticism (of style), too.

Conceptually, the exhibition is theme-based in approach, without chronological ordering. The clothing of influential women is examined in six chapters from various viewpoints. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, First Lady Jacky Kennedy, Empress Sisi and the last Empress of France, Eugénie de Montijo, are represented. Swiss politicians such as Elisabeth Kopp, Doris Leuthard and Karin Keller-Sutter also show selected items of clothing from their private collections. 

Fifty textile objects illustrate the tension between femininity and a position of power, between scandal and idealisation, between populism and representation, demonstrating how clothing is deployed for strategic purposes. The specific examples from various centuries and countries reveal continuous elements, developments and changes.

Robes Politques – exhibition brochure

Fragile beauty – The restoration of a ball gown attributed to the last Empress of France, Eugenie de Montijo

The exhibition is part of the cooperation “50 Years of Women’s Voting Rights – Exhibitions and more”

We would like to thank the Susanne and Martin Knechtli-Kradolfer Foundation SMKK, the Hans and Wilma Stutz Foundation, the Walther and Verena Spühl-Foundation as well as