High Style is the first comprehensive publication on the Brooklyn Museum's remarkable collection of costumes and accessories. This lavishly illustrated volume presents more than two hundred examples drawn from its nearly twenty-four thousand women's and men's garments, accessories, hats, and shoes. Brooklyn's collection was founded in 1903 to provide inspiration for Americas growing fashion industry.
Through its Department of Industrial Design, Design Lab, and Department of Costumes and Textiles, the Brooklyn Museum became one of the most important centers for the study of fashion. As a result, the holdings are rich in clothing by American designers and the great French couturiers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The museum is also fortunate to have assembled what is considered the definitive group of works by the great couturier Charles James.
Organized in chapters that represent the collection's strengths, High Style presents Brooklyn's masterworks and provides brief histories of how they were collected. Included are historical costumes from the 1760s to the 1890s; sumptuous gowns by Charles Frederick Worth; custom designs by the important French nineteenth-century couture houses; examples from the early twentieth-century houses, including those of Lanvin, Chanel, and Poiret; iconic Surrealist- based designs by Schiaparelli; the incomparable sculpted ball gowns of James of the 1940s and 1950s; ensembles from postwar phenomenon Dior, his successor, Saint Laurent, and Givenchy. American designers of the 1920s to the 1980s are well represented. Among the women are Valentina, McCardell, Cashin, and Maxwell; among the men, Mainbocher, Norell, Beene, and Halston. Augmenting this survey is a unique selection of regional costumes and historic French fashion dolls.
Early in 2009 the Brooklyn Museum entered into a landmark partnership that transferred ownership and custodial responsibilities to The Metropolitan Museum of Art while preserving the collection's identity and providing accessibility to Brooklyn's staff. High Style honors both the collection and the innovative arrangement that will ensure its preservation and availability for the future.