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Ventfort Hall - Les Petite Dames de Mode

china dollBecause of continued steady interest, Ventfort Hall has extended its popular Les Petite Dames de Mode exhibit until May 31, 2008.

The exhibit portrays the history of women's fashion from 1855 to 1914, displayed by a series of 59 "fashion model" dolls that each measure 29 inches tall. It had been scheduled to close on Sept. 3.

"The popularity of our 'Ladies' has been quite overwhelming," said Jeffrey Folmer, executive director of Ventfort Hall. "People have been flocking here from near and far, many sharing their awe and disbelief. Comments generally run somewhere between 'Do you realize what you have?' to "This is worthy of any major museum in the world."

The exhibit came about as a result of 30 years of research by creator John R. Burbidge, the retired senior designer of the bridal house Priscilla of Boston. Burbidge, a member of the Costume Societies of America and England, originally was inspired by an exhibit he viewed as a soldier in World War II Paris.

doll His vision evolved into that of a series of "perfect little ladies" dressed in historically correct costumes, which could describe at a glance fashion's changes through the years. For the exhibit, Burbidge, 85, developed an original design for each outfit, imagining himself as a designer in the appropriate period.

He says the facilities that house his exhibit have helped bring about the success it has seen.

"This has been a match made in heaven," Burbidge said. "Ventfort Hall provides the perfect backdrop for my 'Ladies'

"Mind you, they're very particular, and won't live in just any old mansion. They are at home in the Museum of the Gilded Age."