Founded by Mrs. Phillip K. Wrigley in April 1974, the purpose of the Costume Council is to support the Chicago History Museum as a leader in the documentation and interpretation of the history and the art of costume. Through the Costume Council’s efforts, the Museum has been able to maintain and grow a thriving collection. The support they provide helps the Museum’s Conservation Lab ensure that the beauty and historical integrity of each piece will be protected and preserved. The Council also generously supports the Museum’s frequent costume-based exhibitions, and is proud to present what has grown to be one of the world’s premier collections, with pieces dating from the 1720s to today.
With over 50,000 costumes and textile artifacts from the mid-18th century to the present, the Chicago History Museum Costume Collection is the second largest in the world and one of the nation’s most complete repositories of fashion. Using a common thread to tell an uncommon story, our collections are woven into the very fabric of our city’s vibrant history.
The breadth of our collection reflects the rise of Chicago as well as the dressmakers, milliners, and manufacturers who made our city their home. Worn by former presidents and first ladies, sports stars, celebrities or everyday people, each piece is a reflection of our connection to Chicago.
Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile ®
Open November 15, 2014–August 16, 2015
Featuring more than twenty ensembles from the Museum’s permanent collection, Chicago Styled explores the development of North Michigan Avenue into one of the country’s most recognized and renowned destinations for upscale retail. Set against a shifting cityscape, the clothing tells the story of the growth of this landmark district, while showcasing the fashion from past decades and the stylish people who wore it. Highlights include designs by Norman Norell, Adolfo, Gianni Versace, and Chanel.
More information coming soon!
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair
Now on Tour Nationwide
Relive the experience of the Ebony Fashion Fair in this one-of-a-kind exhibition. Explore its fifty-year history and discover how Eunice Johnson overcame adversity to bring couture fashion to African American communities, while raising millions of dollars for charity. More than sixty garments, including works by Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Stephen Burrows, Yves Saint Laurent, and Patrick Kelly help tell the story of this world-renowned fashion show and its redefinition of American beauty.
Like the Ebony Fashion Fair, this exhibition is touring the nation. It is now closed at the Museum, but you can see many of these ensembles again at other venues.