For hundreds of years, skilled craftsmen in the Syrian centers of Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs produced intricately woven textiles for many levels of society. City dwellers were renowned for wearing brightly colored silk garments that glittered with gold and silver threads. By contrast, nomadic Bedouins wore woolen garments in hues and designs reflecting their desert lifestyle. The allure of these garments stems from the technical virtuosity with which they were woven and the aesthetic beauty of their drape and stylized designs.

Dressed with Distinction: Garments from Ottoman Syria explores the region’s textile production during the late-19th and early 20th centuries, when Syria was an international hub for the trade and production of handwoven cloth. With a focus on the social and seasonal contexts in which garments were worn by men, women, and children, the exhibition’s presentation of these distinguished textiles enables audiences to engage with Syrian culture and weaving techniques from a bygone era.

The exhibition is organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA and is guest curated by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Director, Textile Research Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands. All garments on display are from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord Collection, donated and promised gifts to the Fowler Museum.