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Return to On Collection Development: Short Presentations and Panel Discussion
The first collections were purchases and gifts from the Centennial Exhibition and consisted of textiles and one costume, a white cotton paletot and skirt ensemble made by the Swiss firm of Ulrich & A Tobler in St Gallen who received a commendation for good taste in design and excellent workmanship in machine embroidery. By 1947 when galleries dedicated to fashion opened, the museum had acquired more than 300 hundred costumes, most of which descended in Philadelphia families.
The designs, carefully selected by the Fashion Group, featured latest work of 10 leading American designers from Adrian to Nettie Rosenstein as well as hats by Lily Dache and shoes from Newton Elkin.
While the textile collection was formed primarily through purchases of large collections between 1876 and World War II, the costume collection had been acquired for mostly by gift. The Fashion Group continued to augment the collection with the latest contemporary fashions by asking designers to donate significant creations from the bi-annual Crystal Balls organized by the Fashion Group between 1947 and 1973 to raise operating funds for the fashion wing. The balls was the high point of the Philadelphia social season and honored well known woman – Lady Bird Johnson, Princess Grace of Monaco, Marlene Dietrich, Diahann Carroll, Greer Garson, Joan Crawford, Carol Channing. The highlight of each ball was a fashion show featuring the latest work of leading American and European designers.
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