Founded in 1966, the fashion design collection features more than 8,000 objects that represents five centuries of fashionable dress and accessories for men, women, and children, from the late 17th century to the present. Notable for its range and comprehensiveness, the collection features significant works from iconic fashion designers including Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Christian Dior, Claire McCardell, Fortuny, Giorgio di Sant Angelo, Halston, Ralph Rucci, Iris van Herpen, Yohji Yamamoto and Schiaparelli among many others across the history of fashion.
Each work that becomes a part of the collection is judged on its merit as a work of art, with the design of the object, its significance in the history of fashion and its condition all being taken into consideration. Highlights include a collection of mid-century haute couture including Charles James, Balenciaga, Givenchy and Madame Grès worn by Ann Bonfoey Taylor and an archive of avant-garde designers including Azzedine Alaïa, Jean Paul Gaultier, Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler, and Issey Miyake among many others. Both historical and contemporary works are considered for how they enhance the view of defining moments in the history of fashion and how they complement current holdings.
The Astaire Library within the Museum’s Lemon Research Library houses a collection of books and magazines relating to fashion including extensive holdings of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Godey’s Ladies Book.