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Posts Tagged ‘collecting clothing’

Iris Apfel. Photo: Roger Davies.

I remember Sandy saying to me ‘Oh, you don’t wear your collection’ – like it was a no-no. Maybe we just have different perspectives on collecting. I thought it was rather ridiculous to just buy clothes and put them in a box. I used to wear everything.

Iris Apfel – American fashion icon.

This quote is from an article in Harper’s Bazaar titled The Collector’s Eye, Dec 2022/Jan 2023, by Allison S. Cohn. In the quote Apfel referrers to couture collector Sandy Schreier.

Here here! I agree that clothing is for wearing, not for hiding away in a closet. Although, there are pieces that just can’t be worn – for example I have a 1920s chiffon dress that is too fragile. I also have quite a few articles of clothing that belonged to my mother (vintage pieces that I remember her wearing when I was a child) and I wear many of them, but some are too big, too small, or just not my style. They have a different purpose – they are providing inspiration for my mother/daughter memoir (currently a work in progress).

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Photo by Ulysses Ortega.

I didn’t just want to be someone who bought clothes. I wanted to learn about them. So, I collected them, wrote about them, and have had a life of helping to get exhibitions off the ground.

Christine Suppes – fashion collector and the author of the book Electric Fashion (Skira), which is a photo documentary of her couture collection. Photos by fashion photographer Frederic Aranda.

This quote is from the article, The Collector’s Eye, by Alison S. Cohn, in Harper’s Bazaar, Dec. 2022/Jan. 2023.

Suppes, a resident of Palo Alto, CA recently donated more than 500 pieces of her couture fashion collection to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Her donation includes pieces by Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga. (And you heard it here first, in January 2024 the de Young Museum, inspired by Suppes donation, will open a fashion exhibition featuring the legacy of some of the Bay Area’s most fashionable women both past and present.)

As a member of Costume Society of America, I have heard and read discussions about museums accepting fashion donations. Should they? What should they accept? How and where will they preserve the clothing? It goes hand in hand with the general discussion over whether or not fashion belongs in museums at all. The biggest and much debated question – is fashion art?

The truth is fashion exhibits bring in money – especially those that include popular designer names. I would venture so say that a collection of couture clothing would be welcomed at any museum.

When I was in Seattle a few years ago for a fashion history conference, I attended a fashion exhibit at The Museum of History and Industry. This regional-focused exhibit, called Seattle Style: Fashion/Function, highlighted vintage and modern clothing owned by local people mostly purchased from local department stores and boutiques. It was by no means a spectacle exhibit and that’s why I enjoyed it so much. The fashions on display gave us a peek into what the people of Seattle wore in sunny weather and in rain; to the theater; to the 1962 World’s Fair; or just to work and the grocery store. Regional style, dictated by weather, culture, and tradition, is a fascinating subject and as much as I enjoy “big fashion” and the impeccable crafting of couture, I’m also interested in everyday fashion, particularly from past eras.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming de Young fashion exhibit and learning how Bay Area style is perceived.

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Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

There’s also an emotional component to clothing that is important to take into account. We hold on to garments because we are convinced that one day they may be the answer to a problem, or because they represent moments in time we cherish, or because they cheer us up or make us feel powerful or happy. Clothes feed our imagination, and that can help us get through the day as much as clothes that function.

Vanessa Friedman – Fashion Director & Chief Fashion Critic for the New York Times.

This is a partial response to a question submitted to Ms. Friedman’s column. The question was: How many items of clothing do we need?

I agree that we hang on to certain items of clothing for a variety or reasons. I have much of my mother’s clothing that she wore when I was a little girl. I keep these pieces (and some I wear myself) because they are classic, good quality, and they hold memories. I also have a beautiful cashmere pullover sweater that belonged to my dad. It’s way too big for me, but styled with a wide belt and boots, it’s an unexpected winter look.

Sadly, over the years I have been less inclined to keep my own clothing. I let slip away a nice wool blazer, but I do still have a black wool suit that I bought in Canada. Funny what we keep and what we don’t. I wish I still had the snakeskin pumps I sported when I was a teenager (with fuchsia corduroy pants). They were vintage 1960s and got I rid of them in a fit of “I’ll never wear these again!”.

What do you still have in your closet from years ago? What did you get rid of that you now regret?

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