In 1989, the well-heeled students enrolled in Columbia College's Fashion Design and Fashion Retail Management programs were treated to a hot new (well, actually, old) wardrobe. Fashion Columbia's Study Collection, inconspicuously lodged on the fourth floor of the College's South Michigan Avenue building, houses clothing and accessories from the archives of sartorial history.
Representing both Western and non-Western 20th-century garments, it's appointment-only, so make an appointment ahead of time to troll around the textile haven. In the women's collection, highlights include a white linen summer dress from 1910, a dainty-as-lace, yellow and green evening gown from the '40s, a black satin Balenciaga dress from 1950 and a teal, oversized rayon coat from the '80s.
The "Ethnic" collection features embroidered coats from Turkmenistan, a fez (men's hat) from Morocco, a geometric-print vest from the Fiji Islands and a black silk kimono from 1900 Japan. The men's collection shows Russian army jackets from the mid '80s, wool tailcoats from 1915 and '60s Pierre Cardin jackets.
A variety of printed materials add to the research well for aspiring fashion historians: Stylish study-hounds can flick through magazines from the 1940s, watch videotapes focusing on specific designers or check out clothing patterns from the 1920s. The collection is open to the public, call the curator to book a look-see.
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg