Until recently the 1,500 dresses, scarves, hats, trousers, raincoats, petticoats, and polyester leisure suits that make up the Fashion Columbia Study Collection were “in boxes, bags, and various closets,” says longtime Columbia College instructor (and acting curator) Avis Moeller. That didn’t necessarily interfere with the items’ use, she explains. “Ours is not a museum that preserves. Ours is, as they say in England, a handling collection”–which teachers and students in Columbia’s fashion design and retail management programs can look at, turn inside out, sketch, or measure. A year and a half ago, says Moeller, Columbia received grants from Fashion Group International and SBC Ameritech to catalog the 13-year-old collection on-line. Two weeks ago the resulting Web site (fashioncollection.colum.edu) went live, and next fall the holdings will move to a larger storage space. Several exhibits featuring garments from the newly organized collection opened this week at Columbia. The biggest, “Into Grace Again,” features clothes by Chanel, Adolfo, Versace, and Betsey Johnson as well as a 1953 cocktail dress and some 70s bellbottoms; it opened June 6 as part of that night’s “FashionWalk,” a free tour of art and fashion exhibits in several Columbia buildings, and runs through June 12 at the 11th Street Gallery, 72 E. 11th. Gallery hours are 11-5 Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and admission is free. Also on display are accessories (through August 31 at the Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash) and nonclothing artifacts (through August 31 in the design department offices on the seventh floor of 623 S. Wabash). Call 312-344-7651 for more information.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Sarah Faust copyright Fashion Columbia Study Collection.