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I recently checked out FIDM’s (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) latest exhibit called ‘Fabulous!’ , which is a 10 year retrospective of FIDM’s acquisitions of garments and accessories that exemplify excellent craftsmanship, superior design and the finest of fabrics.

Unfortunately and inexplicably, FIDM’s museum doesn’t allow cameras in their museum, so I was unable to capture details or photograph pieces that I liked that aren’t the obvious crowd pleasers or referenced on their website (although if one has money to spare, you can buy their $85 catalogue of the collection).  I found the restriction odd as LACMA’s ‘Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail (1700 – 1915)‘ exhibit’s curators surely subscribe to higher preservation requirements, yet didn’t have the same constraints. Personally, I think the restriction is to FIDM’s detriment in facilitating conversation about their collections beyond conventional predilection and the walls of the school.  However, what the museum does extraordinarily well is highlight and provide detail on its blog about a portion of its acquisitions, and is an fascinating read for anyone interested in fashion and history.

The biggest crowd-pleaser acquisition highlighted in this collection is the iconic lace-and-tulle Alexander McQueen peacock dress from the Fall/Winter 2008 collection.

(photo credit: Bryan Sanderson/FIDM)

Of course, it didn’t escape the industry’s notice that the dress was infamously copied by costumer Jany Temime in the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One” movie. A costumer frequently takes cues from high fashion, but usually credits those references rather than playing it off as one’s own inspiration (which she did) – you can read the article on that controversy here.

Left: Fleur Delacour marries Bill Weasley in a ‘phoenix’ dress. Right: Alexander McQueen’s iconic peacock dress from his autumn/winter 2008 collection. Photo: REX  

Another extraordinary acquisition is a pair of 1959 Roger Vivier for Christian Dior shoes made out of kingfisher feathers (which would be illegal to use today) and leather. Only one other known pair is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, FIDM’s blog has an interesting backstory on its find.

Photo credits: FIDM

This 1974 Halston silk jersey dress is an excellent example of using a minimalist drape design to expertly highlight the female figure while showcasing a 1964 Andy Warhol screen print. FIDM’s blog has a little more detail on the dress.

Photo credit: FIDM

Another extraordinary acquisition because of its preservation is this wedding gown worn by Elisabeth of Wied, Queen Consort of Romania in 1869. The dress is made of silk satin, silk tulle with cotton and paper faux flowers – the condition is amazing for being 142 years old!

(Photo Credit: Nick Verreos blog – Peter Wintersteller/abimages)

These amazing 10″ custom platform shoes (circa 1945 -50) elevated Mae West far above her dimunitive 5’0″ size.  You can see another pair of her shoes and her actual footprint in the second picture.

Photo Credits: FIDM and Nick Verreos blog

Obviously, I haven’t captured the full scope of the collection, so be sure to check out the ‘Fabulous’ collection at the FIDM museum before it rotates out in December and a new exhibit rotates in.