Take a walk through the history of high fashion

Posted at 1:52 PM, Dec 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-03 13:52:29-05

CINCINNATI -- With a bachelor's degree in fashion design from Savannah College of Art & Design, seeing an exhibit this size displayed right here told me a lot about how well-respected our art museum is.

The High Style exhibit has only traveled to San Francisco prior to making Cincinnati Art Museum its temporary home before returning to Brooklyn at the end of January.

I asked Jill Dunne, director of marketing and communications at the museum, "Why Cincinnati?"

She gave all the credit to the chief curator, Cynthia Amnéus. 

"Cynthia has built great relationships in the industry and is very connected to those in the museum and exhibition industry," she said. "When she got word that this exhibit was going to be traveling from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, she reached out to the curator and really was responsible for putting this entire exhibit in motion."

I was in awe of the dazzling hand-sewn lace, sequins strategically placed by Christian Dior himself and elegantly designed shoes by House of Balenciaga displayed in an ornate hand-carved shoe display one could only wish for.

It sounds like a fashionable dream come true, doesn't it? It was.

I can really appreciate the time, work and dedication that went into the minute details of the garments displayed. What you'll see in this exhibit has really shaped how fashion is viewed today. 

Pictured above: The 'Clover Leaf Ball Gown', constructed by American designer Charles James in 1953. 

On display through January 24, "High Style" displays the work of early couturiers and well-known designers within the fashion industry dating from the early 1900's up to 1980. This stunning exhibit has a lot to take in, with 65 mannequins dressed in everything from ornate jackets to breathtaking ball gowns, as well as 35 accessories and related sketches that show how designers took their concepts and made them into reality.  

“This exhibition brings examples by some of the most important fashion designers of the 20th century from the one of the oldest and distinguished American collections. It is a tremendous opportunity for us to showcase these fashions and tell the story of the designers behind them. These men and women were artists whose clothes were the ultimate expression of style for those who wore them,” said Cynthia Amnéus, chief curator and also curator of Fashion Arts at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Admission to all current exhibitions and galleries is free. Parking is $4, but free for museum members. Visit or call (513) 721-ARTS for more information.

Here's a peek at some of the crafted designs you'll be able to see in this collection of fashion history: 

  • Pictured left: An evening ensemble, complete with a cutting-edge jacket design that allows the sleeves to flow alongside the dress by created by Italian designer Micol Fontana in 1954. 
  • Pictured right: Evening Shoes, 1938 by House of Balenciaga, a French company founded in 1937
  • Pictured right: A necklace created by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1938

  • Pictured left: Color-blocked dinner dress by Gilbert Adrian from 1948
  • Middle: A beautifully made evening dress from 1938 created by Roger Worth, whom founded House of Worth
  • Pictured right: An evening dress created by French designer Hubert de Givenchy in 1960

An intricately designed evening dress by Mme. Eta Hentz from 1944 shows just how talented she was when it came to the detailed draping and use of materials

Draped to perfection, this beautiful evening dress, titled 'Tree' is by American designer, Charles James

Billowing sleeves are the highlight of this evening dress, executed by French Designer Madame Alix Gres in 1969.

American designer Arnold Scaasi created this one-of-a-kind evening ensemble in 1983

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