Columbia College Chicago



Versailles '73: An American Sportswear Tradition is Born
November 8, 2012-January 18, 2013

This exhibit celebrated the design prowess of Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta, Roy Halston, and Anne Klein – five icons of contemporary American Fashion. At a time when American design was still considered second best to Europe’s fashion houses, these designers fearlessly featured their modern aesthetic at the Palace of Versailles in a stark display of sweeping choreography on a small army of up-and-coming multiethnic models, changing the face of the fashion industry forever.

Versailles '73 installation image

Versailles '73 installation image

Versailles '73 installation image

UNDRESSED: Women's Unmentionables of the 1950s and 60s
January 26-March 1

Women's Unmentionables of the 1950s and 60s is a glimpse at the sometimes provocative, often uncomfortable, and always intriguing under layers and nightwear worn by women during a time of rapid change in fashion. All of the exhibition garments, from bras to nightgowns to petticoats and girdles, are from the Fashion Study Collection and the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest.

UNDRESSED: Women’s Unmentionables of the 1950s and 60s
2009 Exhibitions

Spirals of Indigo: Deconstructing Meaning through Chinese Dress; Fall/Winter

This exhibition focused on the specific details of a festival jacket worn by women in Southern China. Diverse societies from around the world use various patterns, symbols, and techniques in their dress to define cultural identity and to artfully enhance the body. The semiotics, construction, and embellishment techniques were examined in depth. In addition, an overview of how clothing is influenced by the geographic and economic conditions of the region was considered.

Fashion Fusion; Spring

The clothing on display represented the trend in today’s urban fashion to combine traditional patterns and techniques in creative and personal ways, reflecting the multicultural and global nature of contemporary society. The banners showed details of traditional garments from the extensive ethnographic dress holdings of the Fashion Study Collection at Columbia College Chicago. 

Animal Prints; Early Spring

Hunting amidst the racks of the American retail jungle, shoppers have encountered abundant animal prints since the 1960s. While some garments’ animal prints accurately mimic real patterns, other bear more of a stylized resemblance. Wearing representative animal prints allows wearers to connect with nature while avoiding the issues of real fur.

Global Print; Early Spring

In textiles the word “print” embodies both technique and motif. Since antiquity, cultures worldwide have employed print to adorn, express, and evoke. Today, traditional print techniques coexist with the new; while traditional motifs are both revered and reinterpreted.

2008 Exhibitions
The Beat Look: Non-Conformist Fashion; Fall

The Beat “look” contrasted with the fashions and styles of mainstream America. However, what many people today identify as the Beat look is actually based more on popular images and stereotypes of the Beats, gleaned from Beat related movies, TV shows and comic strips. Even during the Beat era many young people embraced a Beat inspired look based more on these popular images than any affiliation with the authentic Beat lifestyle. 

Elements of Fashion; Summer

Fashion employs four basic elements of design: line, shape, color, and texture. All garments incorporate the four design elements, but one element usually predominates. The elements also affect one another. For example, texture can influence how color appears and how line functions. Designers use the elements in combination to create illusions, variously revealing, emphasizing, or detracting from the figure.

Indigo; Spring

This exhibition explored the various fashion options using indigo. Items such as jackets, jeans, backpacks, blankets, etc. all use this dying technique to create varied looks from ceremonial to casual.
2007 Exhibitions
Student Selections; Summer

This exhibition was the product of the Fashion Design course, “Contemporary Fashion: 1947 to Present Day.” Students selected and researched seven designers represented in the Fashion Columbia Study Collection: Chanel (Karl Lagerfeld), Dior (Yves Saint Laurent), Claire McCardell, Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, Pucci, and Yohji Yamamoto.

Fashion Victims: Aids in the 80s; Spring

This exhibition focused on four designers: Perry Ellis (1940-1986), Willi Smith (1948-1987), Halston (1932-1990), and Patrick Kelly (1954-1990). These designers were successfully proving their worth in the fashion world and unfortunately lost their battle with AIDS around the 1980s. This exhibition included a quilt reproduction of their square on The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Ethnic Dress: Art & Culture; Winter/Spring

Ethnic Dress: Art and Culture
 showcased twenty-five garments from around the world, selected from the Fashion Study Collection to explore the interrelationships of technology and aesthetics through the material culture of dress. The exhibition demonstrated how the universal techniques of embroidery, printing, weaving, and appliqué are used by diverse societies to clothe the body and express cultural identity.
2006 Exhibitions

Dream to Dress; Fall 

The four designers selected for this exhibition developed completely different approaches to the design process; Jane Hamill is inspired by fabric, Paul Sisti by color, Julie Fehler by vintage style, and Dieter Kirkwood by line and form. Each designer's approach may stem from a different source, but the end result is the same: designs that please the client or customer and make them want to buy more of the product in the coming seasons. 

Fashion Elements; Fall 

In collaboration with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Fashion Study Collection, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago produced an exhibition at the Chicago Tourism Center featuring Chicago-based clothing and accessory designers.

2005 Exhibitions

Shaken & Stirred: Dress & Cultural History of the Cocktail Era; Winter

Fashion, specifically the cocktail dress, conformed to standards in the 1950s and the 1980s that communicated messages of femininity, sexuality, and power. This exhibition provided the viewer with a selection of cocktail dresses from these decades, as well as, an analysis of the history of the cocktail party and its significance to the American social identity.