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20 of the World's Best Fashion Museums to Put on Your Bucket List!

Posted on 24 March 2014

If you love fashion, there are some museums that you need to visit. You have some time, so why not plan trips to include visits to some of the best collections of costumes, textiles and fashion that the world has to offer!

Coco Chanel
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French, Saumur 1883-1971 Paris) Evening Dress - Circa 1957 at the MET
Madame Gres
Madame Grés (1903-1994) Pleated Silk Crêpe Jersey Dress at V&A Museum

 

The Fashion Museums on your FIRST list should be:

1. Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

2. Fashion Collection at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

3. FIDM  in Los Angeles 

4.FIT in  New York City

5. Kyoto Costume Museum in Japan

6. Palais Galliera Museum of Fashion in Paris, France

7. Fashion and Textile Museum in London

8. Costume Gallery Museum in Florence, Italy

9. Bath Fashion Museum in England. 

10. Visit University Fashion Collections! Kent State, in Kent, Ohio, Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, University of Michigan's Goldstein college of Design (Okay, I know, I cheated a little because #10 actually includes more than 1)!

 

 

Beyond the initial must see museums, these are more specialized but are the ones that might end up being some of your favorites!

1. Bata Shoe Museum

 

Bata Shoe Museum

 

I have a shoe calendar in my studio I saved after the year was over, and I never do that!  It was from the Bata Shoe Museum and the images are so fabulous that I cut off the dates and posted them all over one of my huge bulletin boards for daily inspiration. If you love shoes, you absolutely HAVE to plan a visit toThe Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada..  They have over 10,000 shoes in their collection that spans over 4500 years!  You can see everything from Marilyn Monroe's red leather heels, Napoleon's socks and tennis shoes worn by tennis star Roger Federer and pop star Justin Bieber,  to Chinese bound foot shoes,mod platform shoes and chestnut crushing shoes from France! To make it even more interesting and worth the visit, it is housed in an award winning building designed by architect Raymond Moriyama.

2. Simone Handbag Museum

 

Telephone Bag
Telephone bag (1970-79) from a Dallas bag maker could be plugged in and actually worked! Simone Handbag Museum

 

Who doesn't love vintage handbags? They don't even have to be vintage, the Simone Handbag museum in Seoul, Korea had a collection of over 300 unique handbags from the 16th century to modern day. The museum was a project of veteran handbag producer Kenny Park.  He collaborated with a fashion curator,  Judith Clark, to organize the very carefully organized collection. Clark spent the over two years working with fashion historians and museum curators to find the handbags that would become the permanent exhibit of the museum. She also wrote a book about the experience, Handbags, the making of a museum.

3. The Tassen Museum of Handbags and Purses

 Cupcake Bag

"Cupcake" crystal evening bag designed by Judith Leiber, USA, 2007 Tassen Museum

The Tassen Museum of handbags and purses in Amsterdam claims to have the largest collection of handbags in the world! The collection includes over 4000 bags, purses, trunks, pouches, cases and accessories from the Middle Ages through modern day that are exhibited in an historic 17th-century canal house.

4. The Fan Museum

 Fan Museum

This one might be a stretch, but there are some people who are very passionate about hand fans! The Fan Museum, Greenwich, London UK has more than 4,000 fans from around the world in its collection. These fans date from the 11th century to current day. It is the only museum devoted entirely to the construction, history and art of the fan.

5. The World Jewelry Museum

 Jannis Kounellis Lip Rings

Jannis Kounellis Lip Rings World Jewelry Museum

 

If you love vintage, or contemporary jewelry, you might want to take a trip to Korea! The World Jewelry Museum is devoted entirely to jewelry and is located in the heart of Seoul's cultural center, North Village.  Their collection includes ancient, antique and contemporary jewelry from around the world.

6. The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum

 Ferragamo Museum

The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence, Italy houses an outstanding vintage footwear collection from 1927 to 1960, that includes shoes and boots from the career of master designer Salvatore Ferragamo. 

7. Cristobal Balenciaga Museum

 Cristobal Balenciaga Museum

The Cristobal Balenciaga Museum in Gataria, Spain holds the most extensive fashion collection from the masterful couturier.It is located in a gorgeous old world villa, on a hilltop, and was once the home of the Marqués and Marquesa of Casa Torres, mentors to Balenciaga himself, in the beginning of his career.

8. The Gucci Museum

 Gucci Museum

The Gucci Museum in Florence, Italy chronicles Gucci's history from its earliest vintage leather accessories to modern day. The museum is on 3 floors within the Palazzo della Mercanzia, but the site itself dates back to the year 1308.

9. The Louis Vuitton Museum

 Luis Vuitton Museum

The Louis Vuitton Museum in Asnières, is connected to the Louis Vuitton workshop and houses a beautiful collection of vintage Louis Vuitton handbags, steamer trunks, and extraordinary custom items from the company's 150 years. Open by occasional permission only - you need to call and try to arrange an appointment. Beg?

10. The Hermes Museum

Hermes Museum
 

The ultra Private Hermes Museum in Paris, France is actually located above the famous flagship store.  It is supposedly very difficult to visit and can only be arranged if you know someone at Hermès who would be willing to set up a tour for you.  In addition to Hermes pieces, the museum holds a collection of antiques from the Hermès family that inspired many of their original products and items owned by many royal family members of various countries, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,. There is a large equestrian collection, as well as wheelbarrows, dog collars, wagons, toys, miniatures, and of course, boots, clothing, and their famous vintage Hermes handbags and scarves! 

I could have listed so many more, and there are new museums opening every few years, so research every city you visit to see what fashion treasures they have in their museum collections. You'd be surprised at what you can find in the most unexpected places!  If you are interested in fashion for any reason, be sure to support the museums that honor its history, craftsmanship and design so that they will be around for generations to come! So, get started and plan a fashionable summer trip this year!

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