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How to Grow a Museum Fashion Collection

The Denver Art Museum's textile art & fashion collection consists of approximately 5,000 objects that encompass all types of textiles from every era, starting with Coptic fabrics to the work of contemporary textile artists. This large and diverse collection overlaps with many departments including Asian Art, Art of the Ancient Americas, European and American Art Before 1900, Western Art, and Modern and Contemporary Art.

However, the fashion collection within the broader collection of textile art and fashion does not sufficiently represent the richness and diversity of fashion history and must therefore be developed. This means acquiring examples of couturiers and designers who illustrate this history and simultaneously speak to  the evolution of style and clothing customs, decade after decade.

This talk will showcase a few recent acquisitions from a variety of designers, such as Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Chanel, Givenchy, Valentino, Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Thierry Mugler, Anne Marie Beretta, Azzedine Alaïa, Vivienne Westwood, Biba, Apple Boutique (created by the Beatles), and Versace. It will also tackle the challenges of these acquisitions, such as the search for interesting sources representative of iconic designers, pieces worn by celebrities, pieces emblematic of the evolution of trends, and acquiring valuable pieces within the museum's budget. This talk will offer some insight into how the textile art and fashion department acquires new pieces, especially as it concentrates on fashion acquisitions from the period following WWII.

This lecture is part of the Denver Art Museum's summer series,  "An Inside Look: A Series of Curator Talks."  Please visit denverartmuseum.org/curator-talks for more information and to register for more lectures.

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