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Frequently Asked Questions

How many objects are in the collection?

The  FHCC holds roughly 14,000 objects of dress, accessories, and objects relating to fashion. A full inventory is in progress to establish the exact number.

Which designers are featured in the collection?

The FHCC contains works by many of the great designers- from Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Christian Dior, and Elsa Schiaparelli to Charles James, Halston, and Ralph Rucci. The Collection is fortunate to include examples by rare but important designers such as Emilio Schuberth, Jessie Franklin Turner, Vitaldi Babani, and Natacha Rambova. Of special note is a large group of garments by the early 20th century couture house of Callot Soeurs.

How much is my garment worth?

FHCC is not permitted to give appraisals of garments or potential donations. If you are looking for a casual estimate, we recommend visiting websites such as Ebay, Etsy and searching for items similar to the garment in question.

Can you date this for me?

Unfortunately, our curator is extremely busy, and cannot answer all requests for dating an object.

Sites like Vintage Fashion Guild as well as many museum websites (see below) provide an incredible amount of information about vintage and historic costume.

Why can’t you accept my wedding dress?

We understand that wedding dresses hold a very special place within a family. However, due to their sentimental nature, wedding dresses are the most common preserved historic garments. Although we do on occasion accept a wedding dress due to its age, provenance, unusual construction, or high profile designer, we simply cannot accept them all.

Can I borrow something to wear?

The FHCC is a museum quality collection, and the garments we have here are treated as though they are any artwork in a museum. They are for viewing by students and researchers and are only touched by staff who have been trained. Wear and tear from actually putting on a historic garment could damage it beyond repair.

Why can’t students try things on?

See the answer to the previous question. Garments and textiles become extremely fragile with age, and over time the oils and sweat from human hands can increase the progress of degradation in a garment. Wear and tear from putting on a garment only adds to that damage, which can continue long after the garment is taken off and put away.

What is the oldest garment in the collection?

The oldest garment in the collection is an ivory silk man’s waistcoat with silver buttons, dating from c. 1757. It is attributed to a Captain William Brown, who was a Revolutionary War Patriot here in Philadelphia.

What is the oldest object in the collection?

The oldest objects in the Collection are the Renaissance Velvets. We have scraps and even some yardage of Italian velvets dating from the 15th and 16th centuries.

What is the newest garment in the collection?

The newest garment in the collection is an Alexander Wang black silk velvet asymmetrical drape dress from the Autumn/Winter 2012 collection.

What is the most popular garment in the collection?

The most popular garment in the collection is a coral encrusted raffia lace gown designed by Hubert de Givenchy for Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco. This gown was donated by the Princess in 1969 by request of Nan Duskin Lincoln, due to the Princess’ Philadelphia origins.

What is the most glamorous garment in the collection?

The most glamorous garment is a silk velvet evening dress designed by Gilbert Adrian and worn by Greta Garbo in the 1931 film Inspiration. This dress has been lent to exhibitions by the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

What is the most unexpected garment in the collection?

The most unexpected garment in the collection is a pair of jeans worn at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival. The accompanying dirt, stains, and painted peace sign are still intact.

What is the most valuable garment in the collection?

The most valuable garment in the collection is the black velvet and rust silk Charles James gown donated by socialite Babe Paley.