Thursday, February 1, 2018

Rep Stage’s World Premiere Play, “All She Must Possess,” Inspires Gallery Exhibit at Howard Community College

Fashion from the Era of Baltimore’s Cone Sisters

Exhibit Explores Historical Clothing from Era of Baltimore’s Famed Cone Sisters

WHEN: runs through March 11, Monday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–9:30 p.m.
:  Rouse Company Foundation Gallery, which is located in the lobby of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia
ADMISSION: Free and open to the public
For more information on the gallery and the exhibit, visit

A new exhibit of historical women’s clothing from the era of Baltimore’s famed Cone sisters is on display at Howard Community College’s Rouse Company Foundation Gallery. Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone, daughters of German-Jewish immigrants, could have lived unassuming lives in Baltimore at the turn of the century, but instead they traveled the world, amassing one of the world’s greatest Modern art collections. The exhibit was developed in connection with the Rep Stage world premiere of All She Must Possess, a highly theatrical celebration of Etta Cone’s extraordinary life.

The exhibit provides an opportunity to view historical garments from the era in which the Cone sisters lived and to learn more about the fashion tastes shared by two of Baltimore’s most famous doyens of Modernity. The exhibit showcases clothing and accessories used for everyday wear, traveling, evenings out, and formal occasions. The exhibit also includes the historical clothing and photographs that inspired Julie Potter, costume designer for All She Must Possess, as she developed the costumes worn by the play’s actors.  Accompanying the clothing are Potter’s original renderings of the costumes.

In the 1870s, when the Cone family moved to Baltimore, the city had a thriving Jewish community, which included prominent business leaders who founded Baltimore’s most successful and prominent department stores. The prestigious Hutzler’s opened its new, expanded building, known as “the palace,” in 1888. Hochschild, Kohn & Co. gave Hutzler’s a run for the money, opening its own large store in 1897. The two department stores offered the entire Mid-Atlantic region the most current fashions of the day.

By contrast, the Cone sisters’ style was simple, conservative, and somewhat austere. They did not adapt to current trends, but instead favored petticoats and long skirts. Their choice in clothing is interesting, juxtaposed with their passion for collecting artifacts and art, which was anything but conservative and plain. As a result, their art collections were modern, exotic, and colorful. Even after the sisters were regular visitors to Paris, they continued to have their clothing custom-made.

The exhibit was made possible by the Towson University Historic Clothing Collection, and sponsored by the Towson University Department of Theatre Arts.

All She Must Possess
by Susan McCully

WHEN: February 8–25
: Rep Stage, the professional regional theatre in residence at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia
TICKETS: $40 for general admission, $35 for seniors and the military, and $15 for students with a current ID. Thursdays are $10 performances. For tickets and additional information about the production, visit or call the box office at 443-518-1500.


The Baltimore Cone sisters, Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta, daughters of German-Jewish immigrants, could have lived tranquil, appropriate lives as respected Victorian ladies.  Instead, the iconic duo voraciously collected art and curios from around the world. The unassuming Etta, often overshadowed by her sister, sat demurely among art and literary geniuses of the early twentieth century while slowly amassing one of world's greatest Modern art collections. “All She Must Possess” is a highly theatrical celebration of Etta's extraordinary life. Works of art come alive and her one-time lover, Gertrude Stein, sings her praises as we watch her journey from society laughingstock to doyen of Modernity.

“All She Must Possess” will be Rep Stage’s production in participation with the 2018 DC Women’s Voices Theater Festival. 

About HCC
Since 1970, Howard Community College (HCC) has been a preferred college choice for students and families in Howard County, Maryland. A public community college, HCC offers associate degree and certificate programs, as well as workforce development training and continuing education classes, to nearly 30,000 credit and noncredit students each year. Among HCC’s honors is being named a “Great College to Work For” by the Chronicle of Higher Education for the ninth consecutive year.