Passion for fashion

The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens its fall exhibition this month. “In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection” spotlights a pioneering collector who assembled one of the finest private fashion collections in the country.

Fashion is full of bold-faced names, from designers to models, editors to collectors.

When it comes to that final segment, many of us might consider ourselves among them. After all, who doesn’t have more shoes or bags, scarves or sweaters than they know what to do with? But most of our attempts at collecting would pale in comparison to Sandy Schreier.

If you don’t know the name, don’t worry — The New York Times actually called Schreier, “the most important American collector of couture you’ve never heard of.”

That July story on Schreier by Vanessa Friedman was to announce the exhibition set to open this month at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan — and probably served as an introduction to Schreier for many.

“In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection,” the fall exhibition of The Costume Institute, will feature promised gifts from Schreier, who advance materials call, “a pioneering collector who over the course of more than half a century assembled one of the finest private fashion collections in the United States.”

The gift is part of The Met’s 2020 Collections Initiative, celebrating the museum’s 150th anniversary.

The exhibition will open Nov. 27 and continue through May 17 in the Anna Wintour Costume Center at The Met’s Fifth Avenue flagship, exploring how Schreier gathered her trove of 20th-century French and American designs, both couture and ready-to-wear. What makes the collection unique is that the fashions were not purchased as a wardrobe, The Met notes, “but as an appreciation of a form of creative expression.”

The galleries of the show will feature 80 of the 165 promised gifts, selected from Schreier’s collection by Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, and Jessica Regan, associate curator.

A well-rounded show, it will include not only clothing but also accessories and fashion illustrations dating back to the early 1900s.

“Sandy’s incredibly generous gift will strengthen our collection immeasurably through the addition of historically significant pieces of 20th-century fashion,” Bolton says in advance of the show. “Amassed through a deep passion for the art of fashion — as well as sheer determination — Sandy’s gift will introduce rare designs into our holdings, allowing us to tell a more nuanced story of fashion history through the achievements of its most innovative designers.”

Schreier’s interest in fashion began in her earliest days, as she would accompany her father to work at the Detroit branch of the New York specialty store Russecks. The young girl’s enthusiasm for the fashionable clientele led to these women giving her gifts of their own couture dresses, which she would save and not wear — sparking a passion that only grew as time went on.

The Met shares that Schreier says, “I always saw myself as a fashion savior. My passion for fashion as an art form drove me to search for the most innovative, creative and breathtaking objects by well-known and lesser-known talents. I am elated that these pieces will now live on as my legacy at The Met, where they can be conserved and shared with the public, designers and scholars for eternity.”

Visitors should expect a whirlwind of design, not only from noted names that include Cristóbal Balenciaga, Charles James, Karl Lagerfeld, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin and Isaac Mizrahi but also from lesser-known innovators, including Boué Soeurs, Madeleine & Madeleine and Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix.

Now, what to wear when visiting the show…

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