The Philadelphia Museum of Art announces the publication of Best Dressed: Fashion Since Worth in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This book, written by Dilys E. Blum, Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Museum, and H. Kristina Haugland, Assistant Curator, highlights women's international high-fashion design since 1870 from the Museum's permanent collections. The book will be issued on October 21, 1997, in conjunction with the major exhibition, Best Dressed: 250 Years of Style (October 21, 1997, through January 4, 1998), a broad survey of the collections that includes women's and men's 18th- and 19th-century costume, regional dress, and contemporary fashion.
Dramatically photographed especially for this publication by Museum staff photographers Graydon Wood and Lynn Rosenthal, each of the 35 costumes stands as an icon of fashion design for its time. The book is supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Best Dressed: Fashion Since Worth in the Philadelphia Museum of Art draws on a great strength of one of the outstanding museum costume collections. The publication, organized by themes, shows fashions ranging in date from evening gowns of the 1870s and 1880s by Charles Frederick Worth, the Englishman whose Paris salon is credited with beginning the very notion of haute couture and designer labels, to contemporary dress by leading American, French, and Japanese designers. Included are creations by Lanvin, Fortuny, Schiaparelli, Adrian, Dior, Claire McCardell, Galanos, Balenciaga, Halston, Norell, Bill Blass, Christian Lacroix, Issey Miyake, and Cardin, among others. The color photographs of these fashions are accompanied by texts and related fashion plates and photographs.
Founded as a legacy of the Centennial Exposition of 1876, The Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, as the Philadelphia Museum of Art was originally called, at first devoted itself to collecting exceptional examples of applied arts as inspiration for the school's students. The Department of Textiles, Lace, and Embroidery, founded in 1893, began by acquiring exceptional European and Asian textiles through gift and purchase, some of which had been displayed in the exposition. Dress was also accepted into the collections over the decades, and in 1947 the Museum began a concerted program to collect historic costume and contemporary fashion. The Department of Costume and Textiles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the nation's oldest and largest, and now boasts more than 20,000 objects.