The Fashion Study Collection at Columbia College Chicago is dedicated to the collection and documentation of dress for study and exhibition. As an academic and inspirational resource, the Study Collection supports teaching and learning across disciplines through the exploration of dress and its relationship to history, culture, art, design, business, and technology.
The Fashion Study Collection was founded in 1989 as the Fashion Design Study Collection by Art + Design’s Dennis Brozynski. Brozynski’s intent was simply to bring together an assortment of garments and supplementary materials to draw upon in class. This collection was reassessed in 1997 and plans were set in place to increase funding, storage, and oversight. By the time it moved to 1006 South Michigan Avenue in 2002, the collection—financially supported by the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management Department—had grown to include donations from faculty, private collectors, and other educational and cultural institutions. Within four years, the collection not only had a formalized mission, advisory and acquisitions committees, but also a professional curatorial perspective.
In December 2008, the collection found a new home at 618 South Michigan Avenue. The recently renovated facility offers a classroom, workroom, and research center, as well as an environmentally-controlled, alarm-sealed storage space for better preservation of the collection. In fall 2011, the Collection opened its doors as a teaching resource for the newly formed Fashion Studies Department.
The eighth floor is home to the Research Center and Vault. The Research Center offers access to books, magazines, journals, visual media and other reference materials, dating as early as the 1840s. General subjects addressed by the collection include fashion history, global dress, construction, and textiles.
The Vault contains about 6,000 objects of dress and adornment including designer, historic, and ethnic wear. The designer collection consists of garments by nearly 400 national and international fashion designers, with representations of designer samples, custom, and ready-to-wear pieces.
The historic collection consists of everyday and special occasion dress for women, men, and children dating from the late 19th through the 21st century. The collection also includes accessories, uniforms, athletic wear, wedding dresses, leather, and furs. It provides a visual history of fashion and cultural history of dress.
The ethnic collection consists of historic, contemporary, everyday, ceremonial, and traditional garments from around the world, accessories and textiles. Established in 1992, this part of the collection represents a wide range of cultures, materials, techniques, and embellishments.