I’m happy to announce that the world now has a new museum devoted entirely to fashion, the Fashion History Museum. Located in Galt, Ontario, Canada, it is the work of fashion historian Jonathan Walford and his partner Kenn Norman. Jonathan is the curator of the collection, and Kenn is the museum director. The Fashion History Museum was actually incorporated in 2004, but they have now opened in a permanent location in Southworks, a restored historic industrial complex of 19th century limestone factory buildings.
You probably know Jonathan through his books, but he also has experience in the museum world, as he was the founding curator of the Bata Shoe Museum. I’ve “known” him since the early days of eBay, where vintage sellers and buyers found a place to chat. And I’ve always been in awe of his knowledge – and his vast collection. Now it will be on view for all to appreciate.
There are plans to have rotating exhibitions throughout the three galleries that make up the museum. Now, in gallery one is Paisley and Plaid – A Recurring Fashion. It features clothing ranging from 1810 through the 1990s that are printed, embroidered or woven with paisley and tartans. Gallery two hosts Collecting Fashion for the Future: Acquisitions from the New Millenium. Here are garments from designers such as Jason Wu, Alexander McQueen, and Vivienne Tam. The third gallery is devoted to accessories. Currently showing is It’s in the Bag, an anthology of purse styles and materials.
Enjoy these highlight from the current exhibitions, and if you are in or near southern Ontario, you must put the Fashion History Museum on your list of things to see.
In the top photo: Four early dresses from gallery one Paisley and Plaid featuring (right to left) an English paisley print wool dress, c. 1848, American cotton print flounced dress, c. 1854, American blue and brown tartan silk dress, c. 1864, and an American printed wool and purple velvet dress, c. 1886
Printed wool dress by Oleg Cassini, c. 1954, and cotton tartan dress with corset hook closure by Clair McCardell, c. late 1940s – early 1950s
Right to left: View of red and black printed paisley design wool dress by Oleg Cassini, c. 1954, paisley printed silk two piece dress with culotte skirt by Norman Norell 1960, blue and red printed cotton dress and matching kerchief by Lulu, Montreal, c. 1968, and embroidered and mirror applique printed cotton caftan made in India for export, c. 1968
View of gallery two from Fashion for the Future, an exhibition of garments acquired by the museum to represent fashion since 2000. Dresses shown (left to right) include Andrew Matejny, Marchesa, Jessica Biffi, Liefsdottir, and Love-J, as well as selection of shoes by Jean Paul Gaultier, Donna Karan, Naughty Monkey, and others, under the watchful eye of vintage and antique dress forms
Another view of Fashion for the Future including dresses by (left to right) Desigual, Steven Sprouse for Target, Roots, Takashi, and Vivienne Tam, and fascinator hats by Jacques Vert and David Dunkley
One view of Purse Anthology room featuring different styles of purses (reticules, backpacks, handbags, pocketbools) made from different materials (sea turtle, lucite, felt, etc.) by different designers (Gucci, Lucille de Paris, Willi Smith:Williwear)
To see more photos, and to read about how the museum came together, visit Jonathan’s blog. The Fashion History Museum also has a website.
All photos and photo captions are courtesy of and copyright of the Fashion History Museum.
14 responses to “The Fashion History Museum”
Ah! Jonathan Walford! His books are stellar! So I can only imagine how utterly fantastic this museum must be! I’m simply drooling! I want to go! Although I fear I would come out in handcuffs after attempted theft of the garments!
Thanks for sharing!
You are funny!
I’m looking forward to visiting, hopefully next spring or summer.
Sounds like an adventure!
I’ve been following Jonathan’s blog for a while. This sounds like a dream job for him.
This looks amazing! Would love to see it one day! Xxx
Oh wow! This looks amazing!
Another fabulous reason for me to visit North America again.
You’ll have to do the East this time!
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How Exciting! Road trip! Well I guess it’s not much a road trip from Toronto 🙂 thanks for sharing this!
Oh! You are lucky to be so close. You can visit often to see the changing exhibitions.
A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Jonathan and see some of the collection when he was still running his Fashion History Museum out of his home! I’m so elated to see his dream has come to fruition!!
Will there be hats too??
I’m sure that at some point there will be hats on display.
Thanks Lizzie for the wonderful promotion of the Fashion History Museum. It has been and continues to be a wild ride to get this museum open – every day is a series of new adventures. We have already had amazing donations come into the museum, from ancient Roman jewellery to an endless stream of wedding dress offers! (how do you say no to a bride? Not that I say no all the time, but I can’t take them all!) Hats aren’t on the immediate menu, but a few will get into Mod Mode, our 1960s exhibition due to open in early November!