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MODE * CHAPEAU: Two Private Collections Revealed

Start Date 09 May 2024
End Date 29 September 2024
Venue Centraal Museum
Location Utrecht,Netherlands
Curator Ninke Bloemberg
Designer Tatyana van Walsum
Display of female mannequins wearing historical outfits from different eras. Hues of blue, white, grey, purple and red.
A display of 1920 style hats set against a yellow backdrop. Hues of purple, red, brown and pink.
Elegant female mannequins displayed in parallel to each other. Colours signifying evening wear in hues of black, blue, pink and green.

Two private collections revealed.

Collecting fashion is an art in itself. Assembling a collection requires time, knowledge, passion, a keen eye and a bit of luck. This double bill features iconic items from two remarkable private collections formed in Utrecht.

‘A celebration of fifty years of dazzling couture.’ – Hans van Emmerik (collector)

From an early age, Hans van Emmerik admired the clothes in family photos, especially those of his grandmother, who made children’s clothes and gave him leftover fabrics. His fascination aroused, he became a passionate collector of fashion from the first half of the 20th century. He now owns the largest private collection in the Netherlands from this period: more than 300 dresses worn by wealthy ladies at that time, from spectacular sequinned evening dresses to garments of rustling silk.

‘There’s a hat for every head.’ – Tiny Meihuizen-Wijker (collector)

Until 2009, Tiny Meihuizen-Wijker’s private hat museum Gossip & Whispering was located a stone’s throw from the Central Museum. As a young girl, Tiny became fascinated by the hats that women wore to church, admiring their exuberant designs, striking colours and wonderful details. The most eccentric hats were sure to set tongues wagging: hats make a statement. Her collection ultimately grew to more than twelve hundred items of headwear, from refined 1920s cloches to extravagant designs with feathers or artificial flowers.

The Centraal Museum now offers the public its first opportunity to admire these two remarkable collections, which have remained largely hidden from view.

Digital mirror
How would you look in the felt Buffalo hat by Vivienne Westwood (1941-2022) or a green cloche hat from the 1920s? Because fashion items in museum collections can no longer be worn because the textiles are so fragile, we’ve teamed up with Europeana Fashion and Modemuze and employed innovative technologies such as 3D scanning and 360-degree photography so that you can try on a variety of hats digitally. So go on… give it a go!

Another Story
Another Story is a new concept housed on the museum’s second floor, where we invite artists, or in this case collectors, to present their own work in response to the museum’s collection.

Since December 2023, for the first time since 1978 – and unique in the Netherlands – fashion once again has a permanent place in the Centraal Museum’s collection displays. The route through the new displays begins in the Middle Ages and ends in the present day, with each gallery linked to a theme. Scattered throughout the galleries you will find fashions by Klavers van Engelen, Iris van Herpen, Viktor & Rolf, Duran Lantink, Das Leben am Haverkamp and No Limits! Art Castle.

The DRESSCODE gallery is an exhibition within an exhibition. It unravels the codes of fashion, from the symbolism of red shoes to a design by Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895), the ‘inventor’ of the fashion label and hence of label mania. The garments displayed here are changed every six months to preserved the fragile fabrics.

Images courtesy of Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Netherlands.