Past Exhibitions

June 26, 2014February 14, 2015

International Inspiration: The Donald and Joan Damask Collection contained highlights of an outstanding design collection donated to the FIDM Museum in the summer of 2013.

Residents of Newport Beach, CA, Donald and Joan Damask have devoted their lives to creating and collecting outstanding design. Their professional lives have focused on luxury marketing and fashion; their collecting vision serves as inspiration for this work and resonates with their shared personal aesthetic. Included in their gift were over 75 pieces of vintage clothing and world dress; seminal photographs by high-fashion photographers Willy Maywald (1907–85) and Horst P. Horst (1906–99); over 80 photographs, sketches, and books by artist-aesthete Cecil Beaton (1904–80), and theatrical designs by Erté (1892–1990).

Photo from International Inspiration: The Donald and Joan Damask Collection

  • Mariano Fortuny, c. 1920
  • Metallic stenciled silk velvet
  • Gift of Joan Beer and Donald Damask
  • 2013.1250.66

July 22, 2014December 20, 2014

For centuries, corsets contorted the female figure into the reigning ideal. Bound to Impress: Corsets from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection highlighted these unnatural fashions between the 1760s and the 1820s. Whether conically shaped with rigid backs and flattened breasts or rounded hourglasses with sloped shoulders and cinched waistlines, garment silhouettes followed the dictates of these concealed undergarments. This exhibition covered sixty years—from the Ancien Régime, through the French Revolution, during the age of Napoléon, to the era of British Romanticism.

Photo from Bound to Impress: Corsets from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

  • Corset
  • Europe, c. 1765
  • L2011.13.79

June 11, 2014December 20, 2014

An exhibition of rare Hollywood costume sketches from the collection of Christian Esquevin, author of Adrian: Silver Screen to Custom Label. Featuring the work of Walter Plunkett, Irene, Travilla, and many other costume designers and costume illustrators, Designing Hollywood offered a glimpse into the Golden Age of Hollywood costume design.

Photo from Designing Hollywood: Sketches from the Christian Esquevin Collection

  • Raintree County (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1957)
  • Designer: Walter Plunkett (1902–1982)
  • Actor: Elizabeth Taylor (1932–2011) as “Susanna Drake Shawnessy”
  • L2014.2.81

February 11, 2014June 14, 2014

Yards of satin and faille, froths of lace and tulle, glimmers of beads and rhinestones: the stuff of dreams that clothed the female transition from maidenhood to matrimony. BLISS: 19th-Century Wedding Gowns from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection looked at a century of idealized brides dressed in simple sheaths of the First Empire to complex draperies of the Gilded Age; each decade represented by the reigning silhouette. Meant to celebrate a single day, these rare ensembles continue to inspire nostalgic happy-ever-afters.

Photo from BLISS: 19th-Century Wedding Gowns from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

  • Wedding Ensemble
  • Great Britain, c. 1838
  • L2011.13.1035

Modern Love: Fashion Visionaries from the FIDM Museum, LA

October 26, 2013February 2, 2014

Bendigo Art Gallery (Australia) was the exclusive venue for this show, the first travelling exhibition of its kind from the FIDM Museum. Showcasing the work of the most spectacular and avant-garde fashion designers from the 1980s to today, the exhibition featured more than sixty international ensembles and included the following designers: Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren, Issey Miyake, Carolina Herrera, Marc Bohan for Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Gianni Versace, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Miuccia Prada, Christian Louboutin, Rei Kawakubo, Valentino Garavani, and more.

Photo from Modern Love: Fashion visionaries from the FIDM Museum, LA

Gatsby’s Women: 1920s Evening Dress from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

July 27October 19, 2013

1920s evening dress was made for movement and designed with frenetic dances like “The Charleston” in mind. Weighted with beads and sequins, these dresses swung wildly to the sounds of Jazz and clinking cocktails. The flat, two-dimensional silhouette was radically new, and body-baring fashions were all the rage—sleeveless styles showed toned, suntanned arms, while raised hemlines shockingly revealed rouged knees. Enter this short-lived, liberated era that glittered brightly with Flappers and Gangsters before the onset of The Great Depression and World War II.


A Century of Cotton: Selections from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 1800–1900

February 12July 13, 2013

Showcasing the beauty and versatility of cotton fabrics, this exhibition highlights selected cotton garments and accessories from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection. Beginning in the late seventeenth-century, lightweight cotton fabrics gradually supplanted the dominance of fragile and expensive silks. As cotton became increasingly popular, fashionable dress incorporated this new medium into its vocabulary. Including woven, printed and embroidered cottons, A Century of Cotton also traces the dramatic changes that occurred in the fashionable female silhouette between 1800 and 1900.

A Century of Cotton: Selections from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 1800–1900

RIPPED: Expressions from the Underground

November 9December 22, 2012

RIPPED: Expressions from the Underground, explores the art and influence of punk rock on design and culture. Curated by Cesar Padilla, artist, musician, collector, and punk rock enthusiast, RIPPED includes 150 band T-shirts, photographs, posters, and related ephemera from the punk, post-punk and indie rock eras. Based on Padilla’s 2010 book, Ripped: T-shirts from the Underground, the exhibition documents the band T-shirt as a method of communication and self-expression in the pre-Internet era. Seminars, readings, and special events will be held in conjunction with the exhibition.


A Century of Millinery Style: Hats from the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 1820s–1920s

November 9December 20, 2012

A Century of Millinery Style: Hats from the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 1820s–1920s is the latest installation in the FIDM Museum’s Larson Gallery. Twenty-five rare women’s hats, bonnets, and toques fill the gallery, offering visitors a chronological overview of 19th and early 20th century millinery fashions. Three fully dressed mannequins illustrate the relationship between hats and fashionable day dress. Period photographs highlight a range of millinery styles, from delicate to extreme. Two hat boxes, separated by 100 years, exemplify the large packaging needed to protect these expensive, and often fragile, creations.

Bonnet Photo

Bonnet, Great Britain, c. 1830

FABULOUS! Ten Years of FIDM Museum Acquisitions, 2000–2010

September 13December 17, 2011

This exhibition celebrates the past decade of collecting at the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles. With a surge in extraordinary donations and purchases between 2000 and the present, the FIDM Museum collection attained new eminence and richness, particularly in the areas of 19th- and 20th- century haute couture, mid-20th century American designers, and international contemporary designers.

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Photo of Re-Designing History: The FIDM Museum Study Collections 1850–2000

Evening gown of silk organza,
tulle & lace by Alexander McQueen,
Fall/ Winter 2008-2009. FIDM Museum Commission: Funds provided by Karen Coombs-Jordan.

Re-Designing History: The FIDM Museum Study Collections 1850–2000

October 20December 17, 2010

The FIDM Museum Study Collection contains 2,000 objects spanning 200 years: haute couture and ready-to-wear garments, accessories, non-western dress, and textiles. Study Collections are located on all four FIDM campuses: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, and San Diego.

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Photo of Re-Designing History: The FIDM Museum Study Collections 1850–2000

Evening gown, c. 1853, and day gown, c. 1865–1866. Gifts of the Helen Larson Estate & Anne Stampfer.

High-Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture

October 21December 13, 2009

High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture celebrates a donation of over 100 Haute Couture garments given to the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising over thirty years by International Best Dressed Hall of Fame icon Betsy Bloomingdale.

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Photo of High-Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture

Evening ensemble of silk crêpe and cockerel feathers by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, 1985. Gift of Betsy Bloomingdale.

Aesthetes, Bohemians & Craftsmen: Artistic Dress, 1880s–1920s

May 20July 2, 2008

The world of Artistic dress was short-lived and inhabited only by a daring few. Originating in mid-19th century England, Artistic dress was sparked by influential artists who subverted societal norms.

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Photo of Aesthetes, Bohemians & Craftsmen: Artistic Dress, 1880s–1920s

Austrian hairpin lace coat, c. 1925. Loan courtesy of Doris Raymond, The Way We Wore, Inc.

Fashionable Dress in an Artistic Landmark: The Gamble House, circa 1908

April 13June 8, 2008

One hundred years ago, David and Mary Gamble (heirs to the Procter and Gamble fortune) built a winter home in beautiful Pasadena, California. Designed by Charles and Henry Greene, the house remained in the family for two generations.

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Photo of Fashionable Dress in an Artistic Landmark: The Gamble House, circa 1908

Day dress of ribbed silk & satin, netting & glass beads, c. 1910–1911. Gift of Laura Stoneman.

Fashion Makes Scents

October 16December 2, 2006

Fashion and fragrance both have their genesis in ancient times. From the outset, the materials that went into their production and the finished products were highly prized. Though each was worn on the body, the two artistic specialties rarely crossed paths until the early 20th century. Due to advancements in scientific research and manufacturing techniques, by 1900 the fashion and fragrance industries had become global markets.

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Photo of Fashion Makes Scents

Norman Norell evening coat of hand-dyed silk flowers, c. 1965. Gift of Mrs. Clarissa Dyer.

Mourning Glory: Fashion’s Untimely Demise

October 10, 2003February 14, 2004

Culled from the collections of the FIDM Museum and private collectors around the country, this exhibition focuses specifically on the high fashion aspects of mourning attire, including accessories and hairwork traditions. Major examples by contemporary designers will highlight the continuing appeal of mourning attire through an exploration of revivalist and Gothic themes.

Photo of Mourning Glory: Fashion’s Untimely Demise

Mourning-inspired ensemble by FIDM alumnus Paul Fan, 2003. FIDM Museum Purchase.

Celebration of Korean Dress: Hanbok, Tradition of the East

October 16December 7, 2001

For both men and women, hanbok is the traditional dress of Korea. An unfitted two-part ensemble, the basic form of today’s hanbok was set during the Chosun or Yi Dynasty (1392–1910). Celebration of Korean Dress is a two-part exhibition exploring the legacy of hanbok and the creativity of contemporary Korean designers. The second part of the exhibition, Fashion Art from Korea: Air of the East, is a traveling show produced by the Korea Fashion & Culture Association.

Photo of Celebration of Korean Dress: Hanbok, Tradition of the East

Wedding dress of denim, silk, beads & quilting by Kim, Hye Soo, c. 2000.

Opulent Opera

October 11December 3, 1999

Opulent Opera celebrates the vision of opera—the look of it, and how it transforms artistry into magic. The role of costume designers in opera productions is crucial; they must project plot, character and place through costume. Today’s opera is truly global—costumes designed in Italy are used in performances in Boston, sets designed in London travel to Los Angeles. There is also a growing crossover of talents from other design specialties, including painters, film designers, cartoonists and photographers, to opera design. The FIDM Museum & Galleries is proud to present the work of these talented creators of imaginative opera productions.

Photo of Opulent Opera

Headdress by Cecil Beaton for Turandot, Metropolitan Opera Production, 1961. Loan courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera Archives.

Andrea Pfister: Wizard of Shoes

September 21December 10, 1998

Internationally recognized as a master footwear designer, Andrea Pfister has pursued a flawless career creating innovative shoes. His exquisitely designed creations, embellished with sequins, multicolored pearls, and lavish embroidery, attest to his individual flair and craftsmanship. Including over 400 pairs of Pfister shoes and boots, the exhibit showcases his elegant and original designs.

The FIDM Museum is grateful to Musée International de la Chaussure, Romans-France and Marie-Josephe Bossan for their contributions to this exhibit.

Andrea Pfister: Wizard of Shoes

Selection of shoes designed by Andrea Pfister. Loan courtesy of Musée International de la Chaussure.

The Elegance of France

October 17December 15, 1996

The French tradition of haute couture represents the peak of luxury; it is the laboratory where exceptional fashion is launched that influences the world-wide garment industry. This exhibition honors the haute couture by showcasing the creations of the most notable French couture houses from the second half of the 20th century.

The Elegance of France

Evening gown of silk velvet, chiffon, cording, glass gemstones, & rhinestones by Christian LaCroix, 1987. Gift of Anonymous Donor.