Online Collections: Frequently Asked Questions

As you explore the new FIDM Museum Online Collections, we want to make sure you can navigate the database as smoothly as possible. Below, you’ll find questions and answers that should help guide you through the search process. Of course, if you have any additional questions please feel free to comment below, or send us an email. Don’t forget to share with us know your favorite finds!


Q: Are all of the objects in the FIDM Museum Collections shown in the online database?

A: Not yet; we have over 15,000 objects in the Museum, and only about 650 of these are currently online. As we continue to inventory and digitize our collections, more objects will be added to the online database. In the coming years, look out for our Michel Arnaud Fashion Photography archive of over 150,000 runway images!

Q: Can I share an image I find on your website?

A: Absolutely – we want you to share the objects you love from the FIDM Museum Collections! You’ll notice a column of social media widgets on the left-hand side of your screen that will help you share to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr. However, please note the images are for personal use only. If you would like to reproduce an image for print, please use the “Request Image” button in the bottom right corner of the photograph.

Q: How do I search for objects?

A: There are two search options: Keyword Search and Advanced Search. Use the Advanced Search if you have a specific query. Let’s say you want to see all of the FIDM Museum dresses from the 1960s. Use the Advanced Search and enter the year into the Date field. The database will not recognize “1960s”; instead, use an asterisk to bring up all results from a particular decade, i.e. 196*. Next, you can put the term “dress” into the Title field. Note that “dress” will bring up short dresses, while the term “gown” is used for floor-length garments. There are also fields for Creator (Designer), Material, Credit Line, Object ID, and Collection.

Keyword Search works best for general search terms, such as “Pants,” “Chanel,” or “Cotton.” Note that when searching for a specific designer in the Keyword Search, the name should be entered as Last Name, First Name. Quotations around the name help narrow the search as well – for example, “Bohan, Marc.” It’s best to remain general with your search terminology. The database will recognize “Hat” but not “Fedora.” The Keyword search pulls up results from all of the Collections – so if you search for “Purse,” it will bring up results from the Permanent AND Study Collections.

Q: How do I find menswear or childrenswear on the database?

A: You can search for menswear and childrenswear using the Keyword search option described above. Use the terms “girl’s,” boy’s,” or “child’s” for childrenswear, and “man’s” for menswear. You can also use an asterisk at the end of the term, such as girl*.

Q: Will using an asterisk widen my search results?

A: Yes. The asterisk acts as a wildcard search tool – you can add it to the end of any term to widen your search results. For example, “shoes” will yield only pairs of shoes, but searching shoe* will bring up both pairs of shoes AND single shoes in the collection. You can also use the asterisk if you are unsure about spelling. If you want to see objects by Yohji Yamamoto, but do not know how to spell his name, simply search Y* in the Designer field. It will list all objects by designers in the collection starting with the letter Y.

Q: Were the photographs taken by a professional?

A: Yes and no. Many of the photographs, particularly those featured in our 2009 catalogue High Style and our 2012 catalogue Fabulous! were shot by a professional; others were taken by Museum staff in our office or in collections storage. We thought it was important for researchers to have an image with every object, so some of the photographs are more polished than others!

Q: What is the difference between the collections?

A: There are nine separately listed categories for our collections: Museum, Study, Rudi Gernreich Archive, Versace Menswear Archive, Textile, Jewelry, Hollywood Costume, Fragrance, and Special Collections. When you click on one of the collections on the database homepage, it will take you to a separate page that lists only the objects in that particular collection. You will see search options to the left of the object list – again, this will automatically only search within the collection you are currently viewing, unless you type a different collection name into the bottom search field.

The Museum Collection represents the main Permanent Collection of men’s, women’s, and children’s garments, accessories, and shoes; Textiles and Jewelry from the Permanent Collection are listed separately in their own categories. The Study Collection is the hands-on collection used by students and faculty in the classroom. The Rudi Gernreich Archive was bequeathed by the designer’s estate after his death, and contains garments, accessories, patterns, and scrapbooks. The Versace Menswear Archive represents the personal wardrobe of one man, Marvin Worth, who wore head-to-toe Gianni Versace in the 1980s and 90s.  Our Fragrance Collection has high-fashion label scents, along with examples of spectacular bottle design and beauty product packaging. Special Collections contains paper-based ephemera such as books, magazines, catalogs, sewing patterns, sketches, fashion plates, and a substantial collection of historic photography. Finally, the Museum also holds a 20th Century Hollywood Costume Collection on long-term loan from the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

Q: How do I see the collections in person?

To inquire about objects in the Permanent Collection, or to schedule a research appointment, contact Curator Kevin Jones: or 602-496-2722.

To inquire about objects in the Study Collections, or to schedule a research appointment, contact or 602-496-2721  .

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