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Fashioning Chicago’s History by Supporting the Costume Collection

Founded by Mrs. Philip 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 fashion. Through the Costume Council’s efforts, the Museum has been able to maintain and grow a thriving collection. The support the Council provides helps the Chicago History Museum care for, conserve, interpret, and display items in the costume collection to further our understanding of history through clothing. The Council also generously supports the Museum’s 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 eighteenth century to present.

Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier
Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile®
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years Of Ebony Fashion Fair
Charles James: Genius Deconstructed

About the Costume Collection

The Chicago History Museum’s renowned historical fashion collection includes work by distinguished designers such as Charles Frederick Worth, Gabrielle Chanel, Mainbocher, Charles James, Christian Dior, Norman Norell, Geoffrey Beene, Pauline Trigère, Yves Saint Laurent, Hanae Mori, Halston, Gianni Versace, and Christian Lacroix. The collection also represents the rise of Chicago and the dressmakers, milliners, retailers, and manufacturers who made this city their home. Clothing worn by former presidents and first ladies, sports stars, celebrities and everyday people, each exceptional piece is a reflection of Chicago and fashion history. Membership to the Costume Council is by nomination only.

Current and Recent Costume Exhibitions

Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier
Open through August 20, 2017

Chicago-born Mainbocher established a fashion empire serving royalty, Broadway icons, and the social elite. Raised in a modest home on the city’s West Side, he leveraged his passion for the arts to become a tastemaker of twentieth-century style.

Highly regarded for his impeccable construction and understated elegance, Mainbocher balanced his elite brand by designing uniforms for the US Navy WAVES, the Girl Scouts of the USA, and Chicago’s Passavant Hospital. Featuring nearly thirty garments, as well as fashion illustrations and photography, this exhibition explores the life and legacy of a remarkable man and his journey to become the first American couturier.

Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile®
November 15, 2014–August 16, 2015

Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair 
October 18, 2014–August 12, 2016

Charles James: Genius Deconstructed
October 22‚ 2011–April 16‚ 2012

Designer of Excellence Award

The Designer of Excellence Award is bestowed upon visionary designers who have indelibly left their mark on the fashion world. We are honored to add Carolina Herrera to the list of fashion luminaries previously celebrated by The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum.

Designer of Excellence Award
Monday, May 15, 2017
195 E Delaware Place

Click here to purchase tickets and learn more about the event. 

Men’s Fashion Awards 2017

Chicago Men’s Fashion Awards
Thursday, August 22, 2017
945 N. Rush Street

Nominate Chicago’s most fashionable men for the Second Annual Chicago Men’s Fashion Awards! Nominations accepted through June 1, 2017.

Click here to download the nomination form!

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories

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