— Compiled by Elisa Lipsky-Karasz
Sure, Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza and architecture, but fashion? An exhibit at the Chicago History Museum attempts to prove the Second City has just as much fashion sense as its coastal rivals. “Chic Chicago: Couture Treasures From the Chicago History Museum” features more than 60 couture pieces from the institution’s permanent collection, ranging from the Gilded Age to the present day.
“Chicago is chic, it has always been chic, and this exhibit proves it,” says curator Timothy Long, who collaborated on the project with Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of New York’s Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Highlights include a Twenties Lanvin “robe de style,” a 17-pound tulle confection by Charles James and a disco-inspired asymmetric Halston dress. To accompany the show, the museum also will screen a series of on-theme films, including the 1995 Isaac Mizrahi documentary Unzipped.
“All the pieces on display have some significance to costume history, and, of course, they were all owned by Chicago women,” says Long. Case in point is a Poiret number donned in 1913 by Windy City socialite Anita Carolyn Blair. “This is the dress that takes us into modern fashion,” says Long of the loose-fitting Victorian piece, “People would have gasped when she wore it.”
“Chic Chicago: Couture Treasures from the Chicago History Museum”
Through July 26
Chicago History Museum