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The 10 Best Fashion Museums In The World

4 min read

In need of feeding your creative soul? Although the ongoing pandemic has put our travel plans on hold, nothing can stop us from dreaming of beautiful destinations and exciting exhibitions. 

From collections dedicated to specific designers to ones examining a particular item, here are 10 must-see fashion museums around the world worth seeking out to keep the inspiration flowing.

The Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Costume Institute’s collection comprises a collection of more than thirty-five thousand costumes and accessories represent five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes, and accessories for men, women, and children, from the fifteenth century to the present. The complex renamed the Anna Wintour Costume Center, includes the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery, the main showcase space with a flexible design that lends itself to frequent transformation with video, sound, and wireless technology. The Center also includes the Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery to orient visitors to The Costume Institute’s exhibitions. Behind the scenes is a state-of-the-art costume conservation laboratory; a study/storage facility to house the combined holdings of The Costume Institute and Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection; and The Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library, one of the world’s foremost fashion libraries.

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Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York

Housed at Manhattan’s famed Fashion Institute of Technology, The Museum at FIT is known for its innovative and award-winning special exhibitions. Founded in the late 1960s, it is visited by 100,000 people each year. With a permanent collection of 50,000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present, the Museum at FIT places an emphasis on “aesthetically and historically significant ‘directional’ clothing, with an eye toward contemporary avant-garde fashion.

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Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Spanning four centuries, the V&A’s Fashion collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection of dress in the world. It displays a collection of over 14,000 items including rare 17th-century gowns, 18th-century ‘mantua’ dresses, 1930s eveningwear, 1960s daywear and post-war couture, antique opera costumes, brocaded silk gowns, and textiles from ancient Egypt. Plus a growing number of pieces from 21st-century designers.

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FIDM – Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum and Galleries, Los Angeles

The museum is located on the ground floor of the Los Angeles campus of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and houses a collection of over 12,000 costumes, accessories and textiles from the 18th century through the present day, including film and theatre costume. The FIDM Museum also houses the early Hollywood Costume Collection on loan from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Parks and Recreation. It presents the annual Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition at the galleries. The institution goes beyond fashion, however, and features the other essential parts of a chic lifestyle, including jewellery, textiles, and fragrances. You’ll find bottles of Chanel No. 5, hoop skirts from the 1860s, lacy fans, and outrageous rattlesnake-skin boots for men from the ‘70s.

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The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, Florence

In the heart of the Palazzo Spini Feroni in Florence, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum has been celebrating the Italian fashion house since 1995. Dedicated to the house’s exceptional savoir-faire and inspired universe, the first room revolves around a selection of films and photographs, another with a wall covered from floor to ceiling with pairs of shoes from collections from the 1950s and 1960s. Older models from the 1930s are presented in glass cases.

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Palais Galliera Musée de la Mode, Paris

The collection’s focus is on clothing and costume design, covering key moments in fashion history (from basic streetwear to haute couture) and showcasing iconic french designers. It houses one of the world’s best collections of 18th-century dresses, including a bodice that was supposedly worn by Marie Antoinette, along with stunningly embroidered costumes from the 19th century, early Chanel garments, and even an entire department devoted to undergarments with high couture labels like Balmain and Dior.

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Gucci Garden Museum, Florence

A must-see museum for fashion and history lovers, the Museo Gucci gives visitors a taste of Gucci’s elegant and refined creations while revealing sensational materials and fabrics. The space re-designed by Alessandro Michele, revolutionary designer of Gucci, is located in the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia in the central Piazza della Signoria. The permanent displays cover everything from luggage collections to jewellery to scarves, and there’s even a 1979 Cadillac Seville upholstered with Gucci logo fabric.

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Kyoto Costume Institute, Kyoto

KCI’s collection currently ranges from the 17th century to the present day, with holdings of 12,000 items of clothing and 16,000 documents. The institute has received donations from some of today’s top designers and fashion houses such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and was presented with a gift of approximately 1,000 sets of clothing from Comme des Garçons.

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Musée Yves Saint Laurent, Paris 

The Yves Saint Laurent Museum, inaugurated on 3 October 2017, presents dresses, accessories, costume sketches, photos and videos to the public in a 450 m² exhibition space. This museum, dedicated to one of the most iconic couturiers of the 20th century, is housed in a Second Empire mansion, in which the designer’s teams worked for 30 years. Highlights include the reception rooms formerly open to clients, more than 5,000 prototype dresses prototypes and the Studio, the nerve centre where all the collections were designed.

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Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa, Getaria

Created under the tutorship of the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation, its mission is to disseminate and highlight the importance of the figure and work of this brilliant designer in artistic creation in general and in the world of fashion and haute couture in particular. The Museum is home to one of the most relevant collections of creations by Cristóbal Balenciaga at an international level, both due to the number and quality of the items included and to the timespan they cover. In the Museum’s spaces, in addition to exhibiting, in rotation, a representative selection of his collections, there are temporary exhibitions linked to fashion and educational and leisure activities.

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