Featured Event

DEBUT 2011
Los Angeles, CA

Don't miss FIDM's DEBUT, the only runway show of its kind on the west coast. Read More.

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FIDM Costume Collection

Costumes from the late 19th century to present day

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Museum Foundation was founded in 1978, to serve the college and the community. The 10,000 piece collection consists of significant clothing from the late 19th century to the present day, including theater and film costume, the comprehensive Rudi Gernreich Collection, the California Historical Society Collection and the Hollywood Costume Collection, the latter two on long-term loan.

Top California designers are represented, such as Gilbert Adrian, Travis Banton, Irene, Howard Greer, Helen Rose, James Galanos, Michael Novarese, Agnes Barrett, and Louella Ballerino.

The Los Angeles Gallery presents annually “The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design,” an exhibition of Academy Award nominee costumes. Museum displays are also mounted at the satellite FIDM campuses in San Francisco, Orange County, and San Diego. Travelling exhibits have been to Japan, Italy, and New Zealand, and examples from the collection can be seen by following the links below:

Rudi Gernreich

Rudi Gernreich is an innovative designer who, more than anyone else, successfully interpreted the mood of the '50s, '60s and '70s. Below is a short bio and some costumes contained in the museum's Gernreich collection.

Best known as the creator of the topless bathing suit, Rudi Gernreich was unique among fashion designers. A futurist and witty commentator on the climate of the times, he understood, better than most that how we dress is closely linked to the way we live.

Much of today’s fashion had its origins in the 60’s when fashion began to take its cue from the young rather than the establishment...when women were freed from clothes that constrained the body. It was a time when Gernreich shocked the fashion world by combining unusual colors such as hot pink with orange, purple with red and blue with green interspersed with dots and stripes. His work, always controversial yet original, would alter the course of fashion for generations to come.

The Cameo Collection

The rich and elegant 18th Century served as inspiration for The Cameo Collection. This group of costumes, designed by ten of the fashion industry’s most popular designers, demonstrates the influence the past has on today’s runways.

The collection was commissioned by Merle Norman Cosmetics to be displayed concurrent with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Eighteenth Century Woman Exhibit in 1981. They asked designers such as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Mary McFadden, Albert Nippon and others to create historically inspired pieces.

Throughout recorded history a woman’s social position has been determined by the way she dressed. Nowhere was this more evident than in 18th and 19th century Europe. To be considered socially acceptable, a lady was expected to be intelligent, appealing and, above all, suitable attired. Then, as now, French fashion set the tone for the rest of Europe.

Equally important was the place a young lady would have in society. This was largely determined by when she was seen and with whom. Nothing enhanced that standing more than an appearance at a court social function. These invitations were hard won and not only assured respectability, but conferred a social cachet coveted by every member of the ruling class. With these designs, each of the participating designers brought his or her own unique style to the task of interpreting 18th century fashion.

Clerical to Career

FIDM Museum's exhibition, From Clerical to Career..., provided a revealing glimpse into the working woman's wardrobe for the last six decades of the 20th Century.

World War II represented a turning point for women in the workplace. With the shortage of able-bodied men on the business homefront, women stepped into traditional male roles in industry. This shift in responsibility demanded a corresponding adjustment in female apparel.

In 1947 Christian Dior sent his "New Look" onto the runway and the working woman never looked back. Dior's dramatic influence in the world of haute couture over the next decade marked a new beginning in high fashion. This change established a distinct movement away from the look of utility wardrobes seen during the war years.

FIDM Museum's unique exhibit highlights the unprecedented changes in the American woman's lifestyle as she traded her traditional role as homemaker for a job at the factory office. This transformation began in the 40's and continues with her integration into the permanent workforce.

Fashion reflected these new values and lifestyles which included careers, as opposed to jobs. Women's executive dress borrowed elements from the suits of male colleagues exemplified by the "power dressing" yuppies of the 80's.

The 90's began with a relaxation in all areas of fashion. Tailored "9 to 5" clothing still remains a favorite, even though "every woman's dress", "Friday clothes" and "week-end work-wear" became wardrobe staples for all women.

The role of women in the workplace continues to evolve as more and more women are in the position of primary breadwinner. FIDM Museum's collection highlights a woman's transition From Clerical to Career as reflected through her wardrobe choices.

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