When most people think of couture fashion, cities like Paris, New York and Milan come to mind. An upcoming exhibition at the Chicago History Museum seeks to add Chicago to that list, says Timothy Long, the museum's curator of costumes. Nate talks with Timothy about the exhibition Chic Chicago: Couture Treasures from the Chicago History Museum and about the Windy City's rich fashion history.
A little-known fact is that the Chicago History Museum is home to one of the oldest and largest costume collections in the world, Timothy says. Chic Chicago aims not only to showcase the finest example of fashion from the 1860s through 2004, but also to explore the historical significance and provenance of each article of clothing, he says. "It is the connection to Chicago—that is the number one importance to the costume collection [and] to the museum as a whole," Timothy says.
Chicago is home to some of the finest examples of fashion in the world, Timothy says, because it was home to some of the chicest women in high society—wealthy, glamorous women who, despite their hometown's reputation as a gritty, industrial metropolis, traveled internationally and demanded the best that top designers had to offer. "Often, their unfashionable reputation of the city would precede them," he says. "So their dress and the reasons for why they picked certain pieces was to prove that, 'Yes, I may be from a Midwestern, hog butcher town, but I can compete with you on any level!'"