Dressed for Thrills

Phyllis Galembo’s photographs of Halloween and masquerade costumes remind us that collective sartorial transformation is suggestive of alternative realities… …Galembo explored rituals designed to facilitate communication with other worlds. Halloween also evokes the supernatural. Although ,most people today think of it primarily in terms of children’s costumes, Halloween retains its symbolic role as the site of mutability. Not only are certain masks and costumes-such as those of witches, ghosts, and devils-overtly supernatural, but even the most innocent disguises enable their wearers to act out fantasies of transformation. To dress as a pirate, for example, is to escape from the constraints of ordinary life and adopt a new identity…

Fashion has long been regarded with suspicion and disdain, in part because it functions as a mask rather than a mirror of the “true” inner self. Fashion is mutability itself, in contrast to the “eternal verities” of art. Yet, like photography, which notoriously “freezes time,” fashion embodies the fleeting moment and makes visible the metamorphoses of the human psyche. With her extraordinary photographs of historic Halloween and masquerade costumes, Phyllis Galembo has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the power of fantasy in fashion . . .and in life. –From the Foreword

Valerie Steele, Chief Curator and Acting Director, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (Galembo, 12)

The Visual Resources Center at the Jen Library of the Savannah College of Art and Design has cataloged 26 images from Dressed for Thrills: 100 Years of Halloween Costumes & Masquerade.These images are available in the Digital Image Database with an active MySCAD log-in.

Collegeville Costumes. (c.1965). Hairy Skeleton. Plastic mask with nylon hair, elastic fastener. Photography by Phyllis Galembo.

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