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High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection

Charles James, "Clover Leaf" ball gown; Elsa Schiaparelli, necklace

About the Exhibition

Rosekrans Court, Special Exhibition Galleries 20B–F

Explore the glamour and sophistication of one of the world’s preeminent costume collections. These fashions worn by American women reflect the nation’s tastes and transformations over the course of the 20th century. High Style, presented exclusively on the West Coast at the Legion of Honor, provides a rare opportunity to view the evolution of fashion from 1910 to 1980 through more than 60 stunning costumes, 30 costume accessories, and an array of related fashion sketches from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection.

Curated by Jan Glier Reeder, consulting curator for the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and organized by the Met, High Style captures key points in 20th-century fashion design with rare pieces from French couture houses, including examples by Jeanne Lanvin, Elsa Schiaparelli, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, and Hubert de Givenchy. In addition, the presentation features pioneering American designers of the 1930s and 1940s such as Charles James, Elizabeth Hawes, Sally Victor, and Gilbert Adrian, among others. The selection of haute couture and ready-to-wear garments showcases the stunning craftsmanship and flamboyance of fashion in this era.

Highlights include Schiaparelli’s iconic surrealist necklace of brightly colored tin insects from 1938, six masterfully engineered James ball gowns from the 1950s, and Adrian’s striking tiger-striped silk ball gown from 1949.

This exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

President’s Circle

The Estate of Merrill and Hedy Thruston

Conservator’s Circle

The Diana Dollar Knowles Fund

Benefactor’s Circle

The Estate of Harriet E. Lang
Robert and Carole McNeil

Patron’s Circle

Mr. and Mrs. William Hamilton
Mrs. James K. McWilliams
Jim and Arlene Sullivan

Lead Event Sponsor


Media Sponsor

Additional support provided through proceeds from The Art of Fashion: Runway Show and Luncheon.
Digital Design by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Opening Gala Event Wine generously donated by:
Image credits:
L: Charles James, "Clover Leaf" ball gown, 1953. Silk satin, faille, and shantung with lace. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Josephine Abercrombie, 1953; R: Elsa Schiaparelli, necklace, autumn 1938. Rhodoid and metal. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta Ramos, 1955. Images © The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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