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Best Dressed: 250 Years of Style

Start Date 21 October 1997
End Date 04 January 1998
Venue Philadelphia Museum of Art
Location Philadelphia, USA

Best Dressed: 250 Years of Style is the most comprehensive costume exhibition ever mounted by the Museum, with some 200 costumes and accessories covering nearly three centuries of fashion. Drawn from the Museum’s important holdings of Western and non-Western dress, the exhibition will feature costumes from the Middle East and Asia as well as Europe and United States. The show will present the finest pieces in the collection including regional dress; eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century high-style from Europe and the United States; a selection of important late nineteenth-century gowns designed by great Parisian couturiers, including Charles Frederick Worth; works by renowned twentieth-century fashion designers, such as Elsa Schiaparelli who gave the Museum a significant collection of her work; and one of the most popular items in the Museum’s collection, the wedding dress worn by Princess Grace of Monaco, the former Grace Kelly of Philadelphia. 

A strapless white crepe silk sheath that was among the eighty evening dresses auctioned at Christie’s on June 25, 1997, by Diana, Princess of Wales, to benefit her favorite charities can also be viewed. The gown is on loan to the exhibition from Lynda and Stewart Resnick and The Franklin Mint Museum in Franklin Center, Pennsylvania. 


Best Dressed: 250 Years of Style has been made possible with major funding from The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Additional support was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fashion Group of Philadelphia Fund for Exhibitions, Mrs. Howard H. Lewis, The McCausland Foundation, and Mrs. Meyer Eglin.