10 Fashion-Focused Museum Exhibitions You Can't Miss

You don't need Fashion Week tickets to indulge yourself in a little style inspiration – from New York to London to Tokyo, museums worldwide are celebrating the industry's brilliant designers and photographers as well as its rich history. Here, we give you the best exhibits around the world, so start marking your calendars!


Chanel: Designs for the Modern Woman, Mint Museum

Randolph, NC

Until Dec. 31, 2011

More than 50 works by the legendary French designer, including a selection of suits, evening wear, and fashion accessories.

Giorgio di Sant' Angelo Fashion and Design, Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix, AZ

Until Feb. 12, 2012

The first-ever museum retrospective to highlight influential American designer Giorgi di Sant' Angelo, winner of two Coty awards and two CFDA honors over a three-decade career.

Catwalk to Cover: A Front Row Seat, Fashion and Textile Museum

London, UK

Until February 25, 2012

A photographic exploration of all that goes on behind-the-scenes for the 14 minutes of chaos that ensue during a fashion show – with backstage, front row, catwalk, and street style snapshots, no element of the runway is left uncovered in this exclusive under-the-microscope view.

Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue, 21_21 Design Sight

Tokyo, Japan

Until April 8, 2012

Encompasses 13 years and more than 250 photographs featuring the unlikely artistic partnership between Irving Penn and designer Issey Miyake.

Charles James: Genius Deconstructed, Chicago History Museum

Chicago, IL

Until April 16, 2012

Covers the history of couture fashion designer Charles James and his legacy. The exhibition will feature James' 15 most iconic designs from 1928 to 1958 and will have the most extensive and representative collections of his work.


IMPACT: 50 Years of Fashion from the CFDA, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum

New York, NY

Feb. 9 - April 18, 2012

With a little help from fashion powerhouse Diane von Furstenberg, the FIT Museum celebrates the CFDA's 50th anniversary in an ode to the organization's impressionable past, captured in a collection of iconic fashion pieces from nearly 600 members and designers in the past five decades.

Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, Denver Art Museum

Denver, CO

Opens March 25, 2012

The only U.S. stop for the 15-part themed exhibit that premiered last year at Le Petit Palais Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris explores the designer's work through a time capsule of transitions in his art.

Christian Louboutin, Design Museum

London, UK

March 28 - July 1, 2012

The story behind those glossy red soles is finally revealed – from sketches to prototype to factory, the shoe connoisseur's design process will be unpacked in this sumptuous exhibit that epitomizes the drama and glamour of Louboutin's fierce footwear creations.

Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada: On Fashion, Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York, NY

May 10 – Aug. 19, 2012

Following the success of the Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty exhibit, the spring 2012 event at the Costume Institute will include a total of 80 looks from Italian designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada.

Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950, Victoria & Albert Museum

London, UK

May 19, 2012 - Jan. 6, 2013

More than 60 show-stopping ballgowns and catwalk looks worn to fancy British royal ceremonies and glitzy Hollywood award shows are on display over two entire floors. The collection of looks, seen on style-setters like Princess Diana and Sandra Bullock are designed by visionary geniuses – Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and Hussein Chayalan, to name a few.


Valentino Garavani Archives

Launches Dec. 5

Dodge the long lines and hovering crowds and get a private tour of Valentino's iconic archives – straight from your computer. The retired designer has just announced the launch of his virtual museum, a 3-D showcase of 300 iconic dresses complemented by a media library that will include sketches, ad campaigns, red carpet images, and 95 runway videos.

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