A Vanderbilt House Party 'The Gilded Age' exhibit | a magical day at Biltmore Estates

We have the great good fortune to live about an hour's drive from Asheville, North Carolina, where the magnificent Biltmore Estate is located.  Completed in 1895, George Vanderbilt's French Chateau spans @178,000 square feet and is furnished with the most opulent tapestries, furniture and artifacts he collected from all over the world.  But what I was interested in this day was to experience the embedded exhibit of garments recreated from the original garment, if available, and/or using historical photographs, paintings and sometimes newspaper clippings to glean information of the Vanderbilts, their family, guests' and servants' clothing.   'A Vanderbilt House Party The Gilded Age runs through May 2019' is worth the time and effort to visit.  I'll include links at the bottom of this post for those interested in learning more about the history of this grand home as well as how to purchase tickets.  Btw, this is not a sponsored post. :)
Edith Vanderbilt's Engagement Gown
George Vanderbilt's wife
Having honeymooned at the Biltmore Estate 12 years ago, how could one not fall in love with the history, architecture and stories this grand home holds.  When my husband asked what I wanted for my/our honeymoon 'momento', there was no hesitation to pick out 2 books detailing the construction and history of the house and family.  And I read and devoured them both!  There's not been an opportunity to return and time sort of moved on.
Winter Garden Ceiling
Until this current exhibit captured my attention.  A few weeks ago, at the Tuesday morning Ladies Bible Study I attend, the subject of Biltmore came up as some of the ladies had just been with their families.  This jarred my interest to the front of my mind (and mouth!) and before I knew what I was doing..... found myself asking one of my friends, who I knew used to sew her clothes, if she'd like to see this exhibit with me.  Out of the blue I hit her up with this.  Oh I felt so badly afterward because I kind of put her on the spot and she sort of "ummmed' about needing to check her schedule, that she was really busy right now, and not sure...... and...... you get the picture.
Edith and George
So imagine my complete surprise when earlier this week my friend texted that she had free Guest Passes that expired on Friday, she'd cleared her schedule and was I free to go.   Yes!!  Yes I was!!!  Oh great joy was had!!!
Meanwhile another NewLook 6292 tunic top had just been cut out and it was decided then and there, that this event was so very special, it deserved a new complete outfit to wear for that day.  And if that wasn't enough.... when the top and leggings/skinny pants were complete, I realized all my handbags are huge and I really needed a Crossbody type of bag because there's a LOT of walking at the Biltmore.  So..... I made a new Crossbody Bag.  Perfectly perfect.  Little did I know my outfit and bag would match Biltmore's Guide Book.   Anyway, I'll write a post of all these details at a later date as this one is all about the Biltmore. 
So the special day dawned gray and rainy.  Not a drizzly sort of rain..... but a downpour from the time we got in the car until we arrived.  It continued raining there and there's a lot of outdoor walking and standing in shuttle lines to get to the house.  Little did we know we'd picked one of the busiest days to visit with Biltmore expecting over 10,000 visitors in the home this day.  So there was much more organization and security all set up in tents outside, which was fine and no problem but all this to say..... we got drenched.  Not wanting to cart an umbrella all over, I wore my hooded black rtw raincoat, which was perfect, but did not want to take any personal photos.
Let's talk a little about the Exhibit.  Biltmore did a fabulous job of not only recreating the garments, but embedding them throughout the house on mannequins posed in realistic ways.
George & Edith Vanderbilt at the christening of their daughter Cornelia
They even customized the self-guided audio tour to include tidbits about the 'people' we were seeing..... almost as if we were a part of the gathering too.
Not much was spoken about the garments............
Isn't she adorable
....nor was it easy to see fine details in the subdued lighting..........
...but that became almost secondary as one was swept up in the moment, feeling the home brought to 'life' by this lovely Exhibit.
Edith Vanderbilt
We spent 4 hours in the home.
..... transported back to another time.....
..... and way of life.
The rain ended and skies were blue when we completed the tour.
Bowling Alley - don't the red socks look fun!
We both very much enjoyed the self-guided audio tour.  One can take all the time one wants.  We'd put the earbuds in to listen to the commentary, then remove one so we could discuss each exhibit.
Swimming attire in the large indoor swimming pool
 that would've been filled with heated c-c-c-c-old mountain water
We both weren't too sure about this one, below.  A woman 'working out' in the Gymnasium?  But the short video at the end of the Exhibit assures one all is authentic and explains a little more how the garments were pulled together.
Gymnasium - Workout wear
We finished in the Banquet Hall and seems I took the most photographs here.
Banquet Hall
Loved this butterfly dress
So glad Biltmore allows photography now.  They only ask to not use the flash.
Banquet Hall

Banquet Hall set for dinner
See the mannequin in the balcony by the Pipe Organ?  She is representing a woman who is singing for the Vanderbilts and their guests during their dinner.
Massive Pipe Organ fills the balcony of the Banquet Hall

Gathering in the Banquet Hall

Grand Table in the Banquet Hall was set with the more
glorious fresh flower arrangements
Hard to see but the engraving in the Banquet Hall reads:  DA PACEM DOMINE IN DIEBUS NOSTRIS....
'Give peace in our time, O Lord'
that translates to:
Give peace in our time, O Lord.

I hope you might have enjoyed this blog post as it's a little different than what I usually share.  And if you are ever in the Western North Carolina area, whether this exhibit is still in place or not, the Biltmore Estate is a 'must see'.

Links to explore more about the Biltmore:
Behind the Scenes of the clothing Exhibit
Biltmore History from the Biltmore website
Biltmore History from Wikipedia
Biltmore Estate main website
How to purchase tickets..... be sure to include the audio tour in your visit

Next post will be outfit details.
Happy Sewing All!  :)


  1. what a fun day, and a beautiful exhibit. thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for taking us with you on your tour! They surely did dress differently in those days, didn't they? Now we rarely "dress up" even for formal occasions. :o(

    1. We were told the women would expect to have around 7 changes of clothing per day. An outfit for whatever task she was doing.

  3. I remember that Marvin and I were considering visiting this Estate when we were in Asheville. But there were so many people there and it was soooo expensive that we decided to do something else instead. So thank you for taking us with you on the exhibiting. This way I got to see the Estate after all :) I really enjoyed reading your post and I'm glad you had such a lovely time!

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed seeing a glimpse of the estate here! What a super sweet thing to say Katharina. :)


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