Fabulous Fashion Brings Iconic Designers And Haute Couture To The Philadelphia Museum Of Art

Art meets fashion at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s rare exhibition that showcases nearly a century’s worth of high-end designs and the women they were made for. Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now is open now through March 3, 2019.

Visitors can walk through the stunning collection of haute couture and ready-to-wear garments from some of the biggest names in fashion — locally and internationally.


  • The exhibition features pieces from the museum’s costumes and textiles archives, as well as new acquisitions.
  • Highlights include two Christian Dior ensembles made 50 years apart and Princess Grace Kelly’s wedding accessories.
  • Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now is open now through March 3, 2019.

(Photo by S. Wink for Visit Philadelphia)
Dresses by Peter Som, Gerard Pipart, Nettie Rosenstein and Oscar de la Renta show the use of color, feathers and beads dating from 1947 to 2008 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Fabulous Fashion exhibition.

Fabulous Fashion opens with two Christian Dior ensembles made 50 years apart, highlighting what fashion-forward design looked like in 1948 and 1998. The pale pink silk and satin dress from the 1940s stands in stark contrast to the hot pink, fur-lined jacket and skirt from the late ’90s.

While the exhibition pairs works that create stark visual contrasts, it also focuses on fashion’s role in society — and vice versa. Explore fashion through an artist’s lens as new colors, materials and designs are introduced into haute couture over time, and social movements of the moment make their way into the stitches.

An impressive collection of ballgowns takes center stage at the front of the exhibition, where visitors can see the style evolve over time.

A 1947 red silk velvet gown designed by Adrian is complete with a short train and winged sleeves, while a 1983 design by Pierre Cardin plays up its yellow color with a capelet and ruffled organza skirt.

Visitors can also get up close with hats, shoes and other accessories throughout the exhibit, where sequin wedges, clear acrylic purses chiffon details make for eye-catching displays.

Anne Fogarty’s strapless evening dress with gold embroidered netting was designed for an 18-inch waist to fit the ’50s-era idea of femininity. Gold makes an appearance again in Vicky Tiel’s mini dress from 1989, which allows for a 25-inch waist and is made from metallic/acrylic twill lame. 

Visitors can take in Paco Rabanne’s 1996 dress made of plastic discs and metal rings, and Christian Lacroix’s 1990 catsuit, then compare flamenco-inspired dresses from different heritages and time periods.

The final room of the exhibition hosts a bridalwear collection that includes a 1968 Gustave Tassell dress with an ostrich feather hood, as well as silk satin gown designed by Vera Wang with clean lines, beads and rhinestones.

Though Grace Kelly’s wedding dress worn for her 1956 vows to Prince Rainier III of Monaco is too delicate for display, visitors can see her headpiece, shoes and bride’s manual.

(Woman’s Shoes designed by Susan Bennis/Edward Warren courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art)
These silk, organza and patent leather shoes designed by Susan Bennis/Edward Warren are paired with a Christian Lacroix peplum waist dress covered in roses in the Fabulous Fashion exhibition.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts a number of special events throughout the Fabulous Fashion exhibition, starting with Museum Studio: Fashionable Headwear on Wednesday, November 14. Guests tour the gallery before enjoying hands-on studio time with a Philly creative to create accessories.

Visitors can get into the holiday spirit Friday, November 30 at DIY Art: Embellish your Sweater with Eric Anthony Berdis. The fibers artists will help guests use bright, shiny materials to decorate sweaters for the museum’s Final Friday event: The Ultimate Ugly Sweater Party (details TBD).

Tickets to Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $14 for students and youth 13-18, and free for children 12 and under. Admission includes access for two consecutive days to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s main building, the Perleman Building, the Rodin Museum and two historic houses.

Plan your visit now for a rare chance to get up close with fashion from some of the world’s iconic designers.

When:October 16, 2018 – March 3, 2019
Where:Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost:Includes general admission; $20, adults; $18, seniors; $14, students and youth 13-18; free, kids 12 and under




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