While most museums hold paintings or dinosaur bones, the late-20th Century brought about the advent of a new type of institution: the fashion museum. From collections that span centuries and continents to institutions dedicated to a single designer or a single fashion artefact, these fashion museums are curating clothing and displaying pieces with the same cultural reverence as a Da Vinci, giving visitors a window to the costume cultures of the past. Whether you are looking for iconic dresses from a haute couture line or an ancient type of shoe, these fashion museums have something for you.
Musée Yves Saint Laurent | Paris
For almost three decades, Yves Saint Laurent designed his haute couture line at his hotel in Paris’s 16th Arrondissement, officially closing his house in 2002. But, in 2017, the legendary atelier found new life as the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, also the headquarters of the foundation dedicated to preserving his work.
Visitors are invited to have a closer look at the designer’s career and design processes within the haute couture house. You will have to wait in a long line if you have not bought your tickets in advance, as the museum, which puts on rotating exhibitions of Saint Laurent’s most iconic works, is quite popular.
Christian Dior Museum and Garden | Granville, France
Christian Dior’s childhood home in Normandy, Villa les Rhumbs, is a pastel pink bungalow straight out of a Wes Anderson film. The designer had long claimed that the house and its beautiful gardens served as an inspiration for his entire creative career. The home was transformed into a museum dedicated to the designer in 1988 and has since been putting up exhibitions of his fashions (especially his ‘New Look’ items), perfumes and mementos from his life. Pieces by other notable designers of the fashion house, such as Marc Bohan and John Galliano, are also on display.
Bata Shoe Museum | Toronto
Sonja Bata, a Swiss-Canadian architect-turned-businesswoman, loved shoes. In fact, she loved them so much that she travelled the world to collect them from all different eras. It comes as little surprise then that she, eventually, established the Bata Shoe Foundation to promote the study and collection of shoes. The foundation opened the Bata Shoe Museum, which has over 13,000 shoes and shoe-related items in its collection, in Toronto in 1995. From Chinese bound shoes and ancient Egyptian sandals to a collection of 20th Century celebrity shoes, the museum caters to everyone’s interests.
Museum at FIT | New York
The MUSEUM at FIT is highly regarded in the world of fashion. The museum, run by New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, is accredited with the American Alliance of Museums, an exclusive selection of museums worldwide from the Muse de la Mode and Mode Museum to Museo de la Moda. The Museum at FIT strives to create exhibits that are entertaining, as well as educational, hoping to expand visitors’ knowledge, interest and love of fashion and style. Entry is free and the museum hosts rotating exhibits that pull from the school’s impressive collection of one-of-a-kind pieces from such designers as Chanel, Halston, Alaia, and Balenciaga.