As one of two students of fashion studies in the commerce discipline, I was subjected to a lot of “comments”. Darji (tailor), superficial, glamour- these words never seemed to escape me. Unsurprisingly, these are common beliefs about the fashion industry. The glitz and glamour has turned into the focal point. However, when I fell in love with the industry, it was more about the intricate work, the planning, the creativity and thought, and most of all, the history. One of the oldest industries in the world, the textile and fashion industry has a storied past. If you are a traveller who is interested in learning more about the colourful life that the industry has led, head on over to these fashion museums:
Fashion Museum Bath
Where: Bath, England
Royal fashion has for years given England’s fashion industry considerable direction and recognition. In recent decades, the country has been popular for its street wear as well as its sophisticated casual and formal wear. The history of the industry is rich here and one can get a glimpse of it at the Fashion Museum in Bath. Housed in one of the most beautiful Georgian buildings in the country, The Assembly rooms, the museum contains many pieces of garments and accessories from the 17th century to today. Everything from Georgian gowns to the works of contemporary fashion designers are on display here. A stunning collection of 160 dressed figures chronicle the evolution of fashion in the past 400 years.
The museum started in 1963 as the Museum of Costume and then changed its name to the Fashion Museum in the summer of 2007. An astonishing 100,000 visitors are welcomed every year. After a visit, one can also head over the gift shop for a souvenir in terms of fashion gifts or accessories. The Assembly Rooms cafe is also available for those who want to get a bite to eat.
Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
Where: New York City
The Big Apple has a significant share of contribution to fashion. Apart from the aspirational street wear, the city is also home to many museums that celebrate the industry. One such structure is the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Established in 1969, this museum was relocated to its current destination. Many award-winning special exhibitions have been on display here, such as The Corset; Fashioning the body that explored the development of the most controversial garment through history or A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk.
An astonishing 50,000 garments are stored here, from the 18th century to current times. The aim of the museum is to advance the knowledge of fashion through its informative exhibits. Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga and many more prominent brands can be found here. However, you must hurry if you wish to see a particular exhibition as the gallery completely changes its exhibitions every 6 months. The historical representations are not disturbed.
Musee des Tissus
Where: Lyon, France
Situated in 18th century hotels particuliers (townhouse of sorts) of Lyon’s 2nd arrondissement, the Musee de Tissus (Museum of textiles) coexists with the Musee de arts decoratifs. Put together, they hold the world’s largest collection of fashion items. 2.5 million pieces are stored here that chronicle approximately 4,500 years of production. Their collection includes fabrics from Europe, the Americas and countries in the East, including Persia, India, Japan and China. There is heavy emphasis on the silk items of the museum. Lyon’s history of silk is also portrayed in detail at the museum.
In addition to the clothing, there are 18th century silvers, ceramic, wallpapers and furniture also in store. Even orders of the royal and imperial courts, articles of embroidery, lace, trimmings, carpets and contemporary creations are present at the museum.
Musee de la Mode et du Textile
Where: Paris, France
The fashion capital of the world, Paris, has become synonymous with the industry. Known for its contribution to haute couture (high fashion) garments, Paris is the one-stop destination for all fashion enthusiasts. It is only right to assume that the museums in the city house some of the most significant articles of clothing throughout centuries. Musee de la Mode et du Textile was birthed in 1997 by the collaboration of collections from two institutions - Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs (UCAD) and the Union Française des Arts du Costume (UFAC).
The former was already known to have an impressive collection of textiles.
The existing structure contains approximately 80,000 works from the Regency period to now, including garments, costumes and accessories. Many items are generous donations. The museum also houses innovation in the textile industry from the 7th century onwards. At all times, at least 6,000 items are on display, which now include many contemporary works. Medieval toys, interior design items, furniture, tapestry and also ceramic art are also exhibited.
Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Where: New York, United States of America
The MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) Gala is the event to which every fashion aficionado looks forward. A night when celebrities and socialites are seen donning the most fashion forward clothing. The Costume Institute at the MET is no less glamourous. With 33,000 pieces of work spanning 7 centuries in store, the museum showcases fashionable dresses and accessories for men, women and children that date back to the 15th century. In May 2014, the Costume Institute space was reopened post two years of renovation as the Anna Wintour Costume Center, with the exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion.
The structure houses many attractions, including The Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library (one of the best libraries in the world specialising in fashion), a costume conservatory laboratory, a storage space for costumes and much more. The museum adopts technology of video, wireless and sound to add to the main showcase space.
Where: Paris, France
One of the most prominent fashion museums in the world, Musee Galliera, also known as Palais Galliera, focuses on displaying items of clothing that are significant design-wise and also some that showcase the key moments in fashion history. Additionally, it also aims to promote accomplished French designers. The museum is situated in the beautiful 19th century neoclassical palace built for the Duchess of Galliera.
It was earlier called Musee de la Mode de la Ville de Paris (The City of Paris Fashion Museum). It went through an intense term of renovation from 2009-2013. The museum showcases everything in fashion from streetwear to haute couture. Its historical collection is one of the most notable in the world. In fact, the 18th century department has one of the largest collections of clothing from the Age of Enlightenment. Garments that belonged to Audrey Hepburn and Louis XVI are also in storage.
Sadly, the fragility of the works only allow for them to be displayed in temporary exhibitions.