About MFIT

Educational Programs Press Release  




OCTOBER 13, 2007 - JANUARY 5, 2008





  Chic Chicago provides the rare opportunity to see 50 of the greatest couture treasures from the collection of the Chicago History Museum, ranging from Gilded Age gowns by Worth and Pingat to modern masterpieces by Chanel and Schiaparelli. Naturally, there are also fashions by Chicago’s own great designers, Charles James and Mainbocher.

Although the Chicago History Museum originally collected these objects for the purpose of documenting their city’s history, they also illuminate the history of fashion. It is because they belong to the canon of great fashion masterpieces that they were chosen for this exhibition.

At a time when museums’ fashion exhibitions arouse tremendous popular interest, the Chicago History Museum’s emphasis on provenance provides important and fascinating information not always available in other exhibitions, often drawn primarily from the designers’ personal archives. Among the ensembles that testify to Chicago’s sense of style are Mrs. Robert McCormick Adams’ Lanvin wedding dress, several lavishly embroidered Callot Soeurs dresses from the wardrobe of Mrs. Potter Palmer II, and a Balenciaga evening gown worn by Clare Booth Luce. Indeed, the entire exhibition is a testimony to the great women of style who supported innovative fashion designers and entrusted their clothes to a museum that would preserve them for future generations.

Chic Chicago is a true museological collaboration which was jointly organized by the Chicago History Museum and The Museum at FIT. Knowing that fashion is a subject of tremendous popular interest, and believing that the couture treasures of the Chicago History Museum deserve to be seen by the widest possible national and international audience, we decided to pool our strengths. Since New York City is America’s fashion capital and the Museum at FIT is New York’s most fashionable museum, this seemed to be an ideal venue to showcase Chicago’s exceptional collection. Only a few individual pieces from CHM have ever been shown in New York City (most recently in the Poiret exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Even in Chicago, there has never been a comparable exhibition of couture masterpieces from the permanent collection.

Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator, The Museum at FIT
Timothy Long, curator of costumes, Chicago History Museum


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