Ivan Sayers 100 Years of VSO Dress Circle Opening

Ivan Sayers 100 Years of VSO Dress Circle Opening

Experience a symphony of history as the last hundred years of fashion and music collide to bring yet another level of life to the Orpheum Theatre on view starting October 11, 2018

The Museum of Vancouver (MOV), Vancouver Civic Theatres (VCT), and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) proudly present The Dress Circle: Fashion for the Symphony 1918 – 2018, a collaborative exhibition featuring ten fashion statements from the last century, on display at the Orpheum Theatre starting October 11, 2018. Curated by Ivan Sayers and Claus Jahnke, the installation features 10 gowns and explores what women might have worn over the last century attending the VSO.
Going to a public performance is always an exciting event especially if you can sit with the most privileged and stylish members of the audience in what is known as the Dress Circle,” explains Ivan Sayers, lead curator, fashion historian, and Curator Emeritus at MOV, “ Over the last hundred years fashions in both music and dress have changed, and whether we like the changes or not, variety makes music, fashion and life more interesting.”

All organizations involved in presenting this elaborated and innovative installation are thrilled to be collaborating, hoping that this will be the start of many to come in the near future. “The Museum of Vancouver is pleased to be involved in celebrating 100 years of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra by collaborating with these organizations to animate not only the Orpheum but the momentous event as well,” says Mauro Vescera, CEO at the Museum of Vancouver, “each piece in the collection tells its own unique story that allows us to glimpse into the past and see for ourselves the wonder that surrounded the symphony, its audience, and its art.”

“The VSO is pleased to partner with MOV and VCT to present a century of style with the help of Ivan Sayers. The Symphony has often been an opportunity to dress up and be part of a social occasion,” says Kelly Tweeddale, President of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and VSO School of Music, “and this exhibit gives a unique look into the past and is a perfect complement to our 100th Anniversary season.”
The Orpheum theatre, which celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2017, is a location that allows for the exhibition’s story to come to life as it embeds the pieces within a rich, historical context. “Collaboration is always in fashion! Vancouver Civic Theatres are thrilled to work with such amazing partners to bring this fabulous exhibition to the beloved Orpheum theatre, home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra,” says Krista Edwardson, Senior Manager of Sales and Marketing at Vancouver Civic Theatres, “engaging audiences and enhancing experiences is what we do best.”

The exhibit will debut to the public on October 11, 2018 during the VSO’s exciting and well attended event, Tea & Trumpets: A British Serenade, starting at 2:00pm.



Ivan Sayers is a fashion historian who specializes in the study of women’s, men’s, and children’s fashions from 1700 to the present. He has collected period costumes for over 50 years and now has one of the largest and most comprehensive private collections of historical clothing in Canada. Ivan worked at the Museum of Vancouver from 1970 to 1990 and left his position as Curator of History to become a Museum Consultant and Lecturer. He now produces Historical Fashion shows and Museum exhibitions across western and central North America, and lectures at several local universities and colleges. Ivan’s most recent project is a fashion exhibition currently on view at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC titled Skin & Bones.

He is currently the Honorary Curator of the Society for the Museum of Original Costume whose mandate it is to establish a museum of clothing and textiles in the lower mainland. Sayers has received awards from the Western Canadian Designers and Fashion Association and the Vancouver Historical Society. He was given a distinguished service award by the British Columbia Museum Association in October 2010. In May of 2015, Ivan was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by Kwantlen Polytechnic University. In September 2016, Ivan was honored by the Museum of Vancouver with the distinction of Curator Emeritus.

Claus Jahnke was born in Edmonton and has lived and worked in Vancouver since 1981. He studied fashion merchandising at John Casablanca College of Design, graduating in the early 1980s. Jahnke specializes in the study of fashion design history in Germany and Austria and now has one of the most important collections of historical clothing from those countries existing outside of Europe.
Jahnke’s collection includes men’s, women’s, and children’s garments from 1720s to 1960s and he now is consulted by historians and other researchers from all over North American and Europe. One of the most noteworthy displays of his collection was the groundbreaking exhibition “Broken Threads”, hosted by the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre which dealt with the destruction of the Jewish garment industry in Germany and Austria in the 1930’s & 40’s. Claus’s most recent project is a fashion exhibition currently on view at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC titled Skin & Bones.


The Museum of Vancouver connects Vancouverites to each other while connecting Vancouver to the world. The museum’s programs, exhibitions, and collections bring people together and inspire conversation about the future. The museum is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring a socially connected, civically engaged city.

Vancouver Civic Theatres is owned and operated by the City of Vancouver, and includes the VCT Board, which advises City Council on the operation, use, and improvement of the theatres. They are committed to developing, enhancing and promoting the city’s vibrant arts scene, sharing with the world the astonishing breadth and depth of Vancouver’s creative community and cultural entrepreneurs. Vancouver Civic Theatres bridges the connection between patron and performer, providing culture enthusiasts with access to an endless array of arts and entertainment productions, including concerts, theatre, classical music, opera and Broadway shows.

The Juno and Grammy-award winning Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is the largest arts organization in Western Canada and third largest orchestra in Canada. We present passionate, high-quality performances of classical, popular and culturally diverse music, creating meaningful engagement with audiences of all ages and backgrounds wherever we perform and developing and delivering inspirational education and community programs.The 2018-2019 Season celebrates the VSO’s 100th Anniversary season with a host of special guest artists, free public events and special Day of Music on January 26th, the 100th birthday of the VSO.

Institutional Partners: City of Vancouver, BC Arts Council, and the Province of British Columbia
Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver Civic Theatres, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra present The Dress Circle at the Orpheum
On view starting October 11, 2018
The Orpheum 601 Smithe St, Vancouver, BC V6B 3L4

1 thought on “Ivan Sayers 100 Years of VSO Dress Circle Opening”

  1. What a wonderful collaboration between Ivan and the Vancouver Symphony. The history of music and the history of fashion reflect Vancouver and the world!

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