Costume Institute Exhibition + Gala

The Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ Costume Institute’s 2019 exhibition, Camp: Notes on Fashion opens May 9 and runs through September 8. The exhibit showcases hundreds of objects from the seventeenth century through today. Just what is camp? Watch the Met’s video on the exhibition to find out.

The exhibition theme is framed around Susan Sontag’s essay Notes on Camp (1964). You can freely download the essay from Monoskop. Sontag includes clothing as a large part of camp, “emphasizing texture, sensuous surface, and style at the expense of content.”  Observer reviewed the exhibit and highlights some of the campiest of costumes included.

Of course, you can also see how celebrities interpreted the camp theme at last night’s Gala. Vogue and CNN have plenty of photos from the red carpet. Find out what camp means to Billy Porter.

Follow the hashtag #MetCamp and get a copy of the catalog for your library!


Costume Institute’s Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library Opens 15 Special Collections for Research

The Costume Institute’s Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library announces the opening for research of 15 special collections, including scrapbooks, sample books, collections of photographs and sketches, as well as designers’ business and personal records. The collections document European and American fashions from the late 19th through the early 21st centuries and complement the Museum’s holdings in the Costume Institute and digital collections.
Scrapbooks and ephemera collections
Bal Oriental, 1969: Original and reproduced sketches of costumes, hair ornaments, and coiffures designed for specific invitees to the spectacular 1969 Bal Oriental, given by Baron Alexis de Redé in his apartments at Paris’s Hotel Lambert and attended by denizens of European and American high society. Attached to some of the sketches are swatches of fabrics and trims used in the designs.
June Rhodes Hamilton papers: Social correspondence, ephemera, and press photographs related to fashion publicist June Rhodes Hamilton’s summer 1931 attendance at the Paris openings for the autumn/winter 1931 collections.

Photograph collections
Peter Lindbergh exhibitions collection, 1997-2008: Documentation from photographer Peter Lindbergh’s exhibitions “Milla Jovovich”, “Invasion 2000”, and “Images of Women”. For each exhibition there is a checklist with detailed information about individual prints, including dimensions, captions, and gallery case numbers; as well as a set of wire-bound laminated reproductions of the images included in each exhibition.
Paul Poiret garment photographs, 1925-1927: Five wood-mounted black and white images of models wearing dresses by Paul Poiret in fabrics designed by Raoul Dufy, and most likely all taken by Parisian photographer Boris Lipnitski.
Sidewalk to Showroom album, 1968-1970: Album of deckle-edged pages onto which are pasted black and white photographs by Ellen Breslow of street fashion taken in the period from 1968 to 1970, together with typed introductory paragraphs and captions as well as the typescript of a complete manuscript on the topic of street fashion.
Historic photographs collection, 1860s-1930s: Predominantly studio and some candid black and white photographic prints of individuals, couples, and families from the 1860s to the 1930s that appear to have been collected as documentation of everyday dress.

Textile samples
Rodier sample book, Spring/Summer 1938: Textile swatches produced by French textile design and manufacturing firm Rodier for the 1938 spring/summer season. For each named design, swatches are provided in a variety of colorways, accompanied by a sketch of a representative women’s clothing design showing the fabric represented by the largest sample swatch.
Miss Anea, [1960s]: Embroidered bead, sequin, and spangle samples on silk, velvet, wool, and taffeta fabric swatches produced by the embroidery studio Miss Anea in the 1960s for designers including Norman Norell and Pauline Trigere.
Sketch collections
Worth sketch collections 1918: Two sets of hand-colored lithographs of dress and blouse designs by House of Worth, including those mailed to an American potential customer in 1918, exemplifying the firm’s aggressive marketing of garments at the time of reduced purchasing of luxury items in Europe
Jay Thorpe sketch collection, 1913-1936: Thirty-eight albums of sketches documenting Paris fashions from 1913 to 1936 that were originally created for the retail store Jay Thorpe, which flourished in New York City from 1920 to the late 1950s. Color digital images are available for fourteen of the albums, and are linked to the collection’s finding aid.
Designers’ records
Kenneth Jay Lane collection of Roger Vivier designs, 1956-1961: Press photographs of Roger Vivier shoes designed for Christian Dior in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as well as original shoe design sketches by Kenneth Jay Lane, and ephemera including a brochure and a paper pattern for a shoe upper.
Robert Barger and Jacques Fath collection, 1949-1952: Photographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, and tear sheets documenting Parisian fashion designer Jacques Fath and American model Robert Barger. The photographs include studio shots of Barger modeling, candid photographs of each man alone, with each other, and with their respective families in social settings on board ship, in restaurants, and at private homes.
Vera Host collection, 1931-1970: Pencil and watercolor sketches of day and eveningwear, swimwear, and outerwear signed by American designer Vera Host, as well as newspaper and magazine clippings documenting her work and career, photocopied correspondence, her resume, and an unidentified photograph.
Vera Maxwell collection, 1919-1958: Original watercolor sketches of designs for women’s suits, dresses, and separates; black and white photographs, and some copy negatives; promotional and publicity materials; and drafts of the unpublished memoirs of the designer considered one of the trailblazing first generation of mid-20th century women who pioneered sportswear for active and working women.
Mainbocher collection, 1880s-1977: Genealogical information and family photographs; publicity photographs and clippings; images of and correspondence from notable clients; biographical writings; as well as documentation of the Paris-based American designer Mainbocher’s uniforms designed for the United States Armed Services during World War II.
The collections are available, by appointment only, to qualified researchers onsite at the Costume Institute’s Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library (
These collections are the first group to be opened for research as part of a two year project to make available more than 25 sets of special collections housed in the Costume Institute’s Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library.

Inauguration of the Anna Wintour Costume Center

While we are at the ARLIS/NA conference or traveling back, an exciting event happened at the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute in New York City. You may have already seen this or listened to the NPR podcast, but those of you who haven’t had the chance to see the inauguration, I recommend these two videos. One is Michelle Obama’s speech for the ribbon cutting of the Anna Wintour Costume Center. I like what she says about fashion being an art form and an insight into culture. So true! The second video is the inaugural exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion, with the co-curators Harold Koda and Jan Glier Reeder narrating. I think you will all find this video to be interesting and beautiful! Enjoy!