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.