Special Announcement



Helen LarsonHelen Larson Archive
Gift of Elaine Condon, Jane M. Gincig, and Patricia Larson Kalayjian

The FIDM Museum is thrilled to announce the acquisition of an important group of objects from the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection. A seven-year fundraising project, with funds provided by the volunteer FIDM Museum Fashion Council and many generous donors, supported the purchase.

Helen Larson was a collector based in Whittier, California. She owned a successful film costume rental business and amassed a world-renowned private collection of historic fashion. She was a brilliant connoisseur and historian. Her working collection of rental costumes is now housed at Western Costume.  The FIDM Museum is delighted to add her remarkable Historic Collection to our world-class holdings.

The collection includes objects worn by women and men dating from the eighteenth century to the 1930s, and contains a significant group of British royal dress (Princess Charlotte, Queen Victoria, Princess Alexandra of Wales (later Queen Alexandra), nineteenth-and twentieth century haute couture (Paquin, Beer, Chanel, Félix), and rare accessories (millinery, mantles, bags, shoes). The important Helen Larson Archive of correspondence, photos, and research pertaining to the collection has also been acquired.

The FIDM Museum is immensely grateful to everyone who generously contributed to this successful project. These historic fashion artifacts spanning 250 years will be studied, exhibited, and published for years to come, inspiring future generations of students and visitors.


Silk printed dress worn by Princess Charlotte
Great Britain, c. 1816-17
Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 2017.5.40
FIDM Museum Purchase: Funds raised by the FIDM Museum Fashion Council [2011-2015] and other generous donors


Detail of silk printed Princess Charlotte dress


Chanel evening dress
Paris, France, c. 1925-27
Silk netting, glass beads & silk chiffon
Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 2017.5.21AB
FIDM Museum Purchase: Funds raised by the FIDM Museum Fashion Council [2011-2015] and other generous donors


Abolitionist slave purse, c. 1827
Lithographed silk satin & metal frame
Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 2017.5.42
FIDM Museum Purchase: Funds generously donated by the Locke & Noble Tea Co.


Bodice worn by Lady Mary Douglas at the Coronation of King George III
Great Britain, 1761
Cloth of gold, gold & silver thread, spangles
Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 2017.5.32
FIDM Museum Purchase: Funds raised by the FIDM Museum Fashion Council [2011-2015]


Felix Opera Gown
Paris, France, c. 1887
Silk faille, lace, satin, chenille, flowers & pearls
Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 2017.5.50AB
FIDM Museum Purchase: Funds generously donated by The Bonholtzer Family Trust

All photography by Brian E. Sanderson

3 responses to “Special Announcement

  1. Cyndee Ely says:

    I am so excited! We were wondering what the status was of this immense project!

  2. Joy Flasher says:

    I had opportunity to make a couple donations for this acquisition and to also see one of the exhibitions showcasing items from the Helen Larson collection. I’m thrilled to read that it will be remaining with FIDM.

  3. Laurel Whitcomb says:

    I am thrilled that so many of the wonderful items from the Helen Larson collection are in good hands with the FIDM Museum! I’m so glad to have contributed….WELL DONE!

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