Star Quality: Gowns and Personal Effects of Eva Peron Will Shimmer in NYC
By Michael Luongo
New Yorkers will have the rare opportunity in September to double-dose on Argentina's most famous First Lady, Maria Eva Duarte de Peron — best known as Evita, the wife of mid-20th-century Argentine president Juan Peron. #Evita, the musical, is on Broadway, and an exhibit of her personal effects will be blocks away.
Buenos Aires' Museo Evita will hold a special exhibition of Evita's dresses, shoes and other personal items, along with art and other material celebrating her work at New York's Consulate General of Argentina on 56th Street. Entitled "Evita: Passion and Action," the exhibit is 10 blocks from the Broadway revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical play Evita.
An exhibit highlight is a 1948 Christian Dior black, gold and tan floral cocktail dress ensemble, recalling the line "they need to adore me, so Christian Dior me, from my head to my toes," which lyricist Rice wrote for the musical. Epitomizing Dior's postwar New Look, its exquisitely tailored lines include a whalebone corseted waist.
Another notable dress (seen below, at right) is a 1947 strapless midnight blue silk ballgown embellished with white flowers by Paula Naletoff, one of many female designers Evita purposely sought to work with. Several other dresses and tailored business suits will also be on display, many similar to those worn by Elena Roger, the Argentine actress who plays Evita at Broadway's Marquis Theatre on 46th Street. The exhibit is free and opens Sept. 7, in the midst of New York's Fashion Week, running to Sept. 28.
Museo Evita curator Gabriel Miremont told Playbill.com, "With this exhibit, we are doing two things. One is to show how her thoughts and actions defined the woman that is Evita, and also how these set into motion a desire to help others. By being in New York with these materials, the Museo Evita also helps to tell the story, the reality, behind the musical tribute to Eva Peron."
Miremont mentioned this year is the 60th anniversary of Evita's death from cervical cancer on July 26, 1952. The date was widely commemorated within Argentina and is the main reason for the exhibit's timing. He added that while New Yorkers familiar with the musical Evita (or Madonna's 1996 movie version of it) think primarily about the First Lady's extensive wardrobe, "photographs and personal documents from the museum also illustrate Evita's thoughts and actions towards direct social assistance for Argentina's poor."
Modern homages to Evita, including some of Miremont's own artwork will be in the exhibit. In addition, works by Daniel Santoro, Argentina's premier Peronist artist, are included. Marcelo Toledo, the Argentine jeweler who recreated Evita's jewels for the musical, is also exhibiting work.
Hal Luftig, one of Evita's producers, told Playbill.com, "Having experienced the Museo Evita in person in Buenos Aires, we are thrilled they are bringing the incredible exhibition to New York City." Luftig and cast members visited the museum to research the revival. Luftig added, "it's truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for visitors and New Yorkers to experience this musical…and then be able to see real artifacts owned by Eva Peron at the Argentina Consulate, just blocks away from the Marquis Theatre."
It might even inspire a trip or two down Argentina way.
"Evita: Passion and Action" will be on view Sept. 7-28, Mondays to Fridays from 10 AM-5 PM (closed Saturdays & Sundays, except Sept. 22 & 23, 9:30 AM-5 PM) at the Consulate General of Argentina, 12 W. 56th Street (between Fifth & Sixth Avenues).
Read travel writer (and Evita maven) Michael Luongo's earlier Playbill.com feature about the real-life people and locations mentioned in the hit musical Evita.
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