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Historic Dress Collection unveiled to St. Kate’s Community

Kaylie O’Connor ’17 shows detailed beadwork on a 1960s dress by designer Oleg Cassini. The dress is one of the items donated by the Goldstein Museum of Design.
Kaylie O’Connor ’17 shows detailed beadwork on a 1960s dress by designer Oleg Cassini. The dress is one of the items donated by the Goldstein Museum of Design.
Photo by Julie Michener

St. Catherine University’s Apparel, Merchandising and Design program unveiled the new space for their Historic Dress Collection on Thursday, November 19. The new space offers archival-quality storage and display capabilities for the department's  collection, which includes a variety of garments and accessories ranging from the early 1900s to just a few months ago.

The collection was first started by Professor Emerita Sue Hendricks with the addition of special and unique clothes from the 1950s and 1960s. Some of these clothes she constructed herself using designer patterns. It has since expanded to include pieces from alumnae and their family, in addition to hundreds of pieces from the Goldstein Museum of Design in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I think St. Kate’s is incredibly lucky to have a collection like this. It's one thing to see clothing in sketches or pictures, but it's another thing to see the pieces in person. The students in our program are thankful for the hard work Dr. Kelly Gage and Briana Turnbull put into pulling this collection together," says Kaylie O’Connor ’17, a Fashion Merchandising student who helped organize the collection.

Some special items in the collection include a school uniform from the 1950s and a nursing cape from World War II. “The stories behind these garments are just incredible,” says Kelly Gage, assistant professor of Apparel, Merchandising and Design.

Students are enjoying the opportunity to learn more about clothing from different eras, and are even finding that they would wear some of the fashions from the past. “I love when students say ‘I could wear this’ even when it is a piece of clothing from a different time period,” adds Gage.

Fontbonne, which houses the collection, has gone through many changes over the years, particularly just in the last year with the renovations. Once known as the old hockey locker room, the renovated space has now become a place where students of all majors can come and view some of the apparel collection in addition to having a place to study. The location was chosen because of the proximity to the Apparel, Merchandising and Design department.

The collection allows students in the program to study the construction and culture of garments from different time periods, and learn ways to incorporate past designs into their future projects. However, students of all majors and programs will have the opportunity to use the collection for projects and research. Students and staff were essential from organizing the collection to AMP student Briana Turnbull creating publicity for the event with her knowledge of both fashion and graphic design.

One of the perks of the new collection space is the ability for St. Kate's to now accept donated clothing of historical merit. The department is open to donations of clothing and accessories in good, clean condition, particularly designer items from any era. Gage notes that the department is very interested in anyone who has garments from the 19th- century, and that “we would take garments from that era in any condition.”

View more photos from the Historic Dress Collection on flickr.

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Nov. 25, 2015 by Sophia Niemeyer '16

See also: Faculty, Students