Met Museum Clothing

The following museums are some of the world’s most important overall collections of historical and contemporary fashion.*

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Koda, who had previously departed from the Museum, rejoined The Met in 2000 as curator in charge, hiring Andrew Bolton in 2002. Koda's retirement in January 2016, Mr. Bolton became curator in charge, and in March 2018, upon the endowment of the postion, he was named Wendy Yu Curator in Charge. Add several creative flourishes to your closet with The Met Store's line of artistic tops and tees. Our designers have looked to works from across The Met collection—from Klimt paintings to the world-class arms and armor holdings to images of the Buddha and beyond—to fashion a line of statement pieces that will appeal to any art lover.

Victoria & Albert Museum (London, England)
Fashion Museum - formerly the Museum of Costume (Bath, England)
newly re-named Anna Wintour Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Museum of Fashion & Textiles (Paris, France)
Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris (Paris, France)
Kyoto Costume Institute (Kyoto, Japan)
Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, NY)
The Costume Museum (Madrid, Spain)
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Museum (Los Angeles, CA)

London, England

Spanning four centuries, the V&A’s Fashion collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection of dress in the world. Key items in the collection include rare 17th-century gowns, 18th-century ‘mantua’ dresses, 1930s eveningwear, 1960s daywear and post-war couture. Plus a growing number of pieces from 21st-century designers.

Bath, England

The Fashion Museum (formerly The Museum of Costume) is one of the world’s great museum collections of historic and fashionable dress. Designated as a collection of outstanding national significance, the Fashion Museum was recently listed by CNN as one of the world’s Top 10 fashion museums.

New York City, NY

The newly re-named Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art comprises a collection of more than thirty-five thousand costumes and accessories represents five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes, and accessories for men, women, and children, from the fifteenth century to the present.

in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Today, the museum occupies 9,000 square meters and displays approximately 6,000 items at any time. It draws from its collections of works representing the history of costume from the French Regency period to the present (16,000 costumes and 35,000 fashion accessories), and textiles from the 7th century onwards (30,000 works), as well as examples of interior design, furniture, objets d’arts, wallpaper, tapestry, ceramic art, glassware, and toys from the Middle Ages to the present.

Paris, France

The collection’s focus is on clothing and costume design, covering key moments in fashion history and showcasing iconic french designers. The museum’s collection includes dress and accessories that run the gamut from basic streetwear to haute couture. The 18th Century department is home to one of the world’s largest collections of clothing from the Age of Enlightenment.

Kyoto, Japan

KCI’s collection currently ranges from the 17th century to the present day, with holdings of 12,000 items of clothing and 16,000 documents. The institute has received donations from some of today’s top designers and fashion houses such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and was presented with a gift of approximately 1,000 sets of clothing from Comme des Garçons.

New York City, NY

Met

Housed at Manhattan’s famed Fashion Institute of Technology, The Museum at FIT is known for its innovative and award-winning special exhibitions. In July, it earned accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition possible for a museum. Founded in the late 1960s, it is visited by 100,000 people each year. With a permanent collection of 50,000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present, the Museum at FIT places an emphasis on “aesthetically and historically significant ‘directional’ clothing, with an eye toward contemporary avant-garde fashion.

Madrid, Spain

An often overlooked museum that has a surprisingly large collection and beautiful exhibitions.

Los Angeles, CA

Farming simulator 20 for ps4. The museum is located on the ground floor of the Los Angeles campus of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and houses a collection of over 12,000 costumes, accessories and textiles from the 18th century through the present day, including film and theater costume. The FIDM Museum also houses the early Hollywood Costume Collection on loan from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Parks and Recreation. It presents the annual Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition at the galleries.

Kent, OH

The Kent State University Museum welcomes students and the general public to view, study and research from its collection of historic, contemporary, and world fashions. The collection goes beyond clothing and textiles to also include American glass, furniture, paintings and other decorative arts. The Museum also houses a library of books and historic periodicals dedicated to fashion and decorative arts.

*This list does not include collections focused on individual designers or types of accessories, even if they are very popular – you can search separately for this, or for more fashion museums by region or type of collection.

Should your museum be on this list? Tell me what you think below!

What is medieval dress? The Medieval Period, or Middle Ages, is regarded as the time between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, or the 5th – 15th centuries. While a vast period, there are so few surviving garments from this time period that they, like archeological dress, are generally looked at by object, not collection. Because of their rarity they are often the most important objects in their collection. Some of the museums have even commissioned recreations of the extant garments to further study.

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Museum of Medieval Fabrics, Burgos
Notre Dame Cathedral Treasury, Paris
Museum of Historical Textiles, Lyon, France
The Cathedral Museum, Uppsala, Sweden
Lengberg Castle, East Tyrol, Austria
Historical Museum of Bern, Switzerland

1. Surcoat of Leonara of Aragon

Museum of Medieval Textiles, Museo de Burgos, Monastery of Las Huelgas (Burgos, Spain)

This sideless surcoat, or “pellotes” belonged to Leonora of Aragon, and dates to ca. 1244. It is part of a collection of other medieval garments (mostly from the graves of kings of Castille) in the collection, which reopened in 2008 after extensive renovations, and is considered one of the best collections of secular medieval garments.

2. Chemise of King Louis IX of France

Notre Dame Cathedral Treasury, Paris

Called the “World’s Oldest Extant Undergarment”, this chemise dates from ca. 1250, and was supposedly worn by King Louis IX of France, later Saint Louis. It’s difficult to find much information about this garment online, but the above link has a nice description and layout of the pattern.

3. Pourpoint of Charles of Blois – 1360’s

Musée Historique des Tissues, Lyon, France

Met museum clothing sale

This is one of the few secular garments that survive from the late Middle Ages. This closely-fitting style of doublet was developed for knights to wear under the plate armor worn during the 1300’s-1500’s. Of damask satin, it is padded and quilted with cotton between the face fabric and the lining, and fastened with 32 buttons up the front and 20 along the sleeves. Charles I, the Duke of Brittany ,was a nephew of King Phillip VI of France, an accomplished military leader, and later canonized as a saint, which may be how this garment survived, if it was cherished as a religious relic.

4. Gown of Queen Margareta

The Cathedral Museum, Uppsala, Sweden

Museum

Met Museum Clothing For Women

Called the “world’s oldest gala dress”, this dress from the early 15th century belonged to the Danish Queen Margareta, and was taken from Roskilde as war booty by Swedish king Karl X Gustav in 1659. It has been stored at the Uppsala Cathedral (which was begun in the late 13th century, and is still the largest cathedral in Scandinavia) since 1665. The fabric is an Italian gold brocade with pomegranate pattern in gold on a purple silk background, and has been carbon dated to 1403-1439. A recreation in partnership with the Borås School of Weaving and the Durán Textile company was commissioned in around 2009, and is exhibited at the Historical Museum (Historiska Museet) in Stockholm, while the original is still on display in Uppsala.

Sale

A book written about this garment is Drottning Margaretas gyllene kjortel i Uppsala Domkyrka (The Golden Gown of Queen Margareta in Uppsala Cathedral), but is not widely available.

5. Lengberg Bra

Lengberg Castle, East Tyrol, Austria

A reconstruction project in 2008 discovered a hidden vault in the second floor of this castle, parts of which date from the late 1100’s. Among the 15th century debris hidden during the addition of a second story were shirts, shoes, and a collection of linen undergarments, notable for their resemblance to modern bras. Because undergarments are so rarely depicted in artwork from this period, and because almost none of it survives, this was an epic discovery (which came out in the media in 2012). I don’t know if any of the garments are on display anywhere, or even where they are stored, but it surely counts as one of the more exciting clothing discoveries of the last few years!

6. Jacket of Charles the Bold

Met Museum Clothing Catalog

Historical Museum of Bern (Historisches Museum), Switzerland

This impecably preserved satin jacket from ca. 1477 was featured in a recent exhibition called Charles the Bold: Splendour and Fall of the last Duke of Burgundy (here’s the exhibition catalog) at Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

More coming soon:

Kunthistorische Museum, Vienna

This collection has a number of medieval garments, but sadly they don’t even publish a textile collection on their website. Am looking into it!

Here and here are a few websites with more extensive lists of extant medieval garments, and of course there’s always Pinterest.

Met Museum Clothing Sale

This list does not include ecclesiastical garments and textiles.