A Sneak Peek at Drexel’s World-Class Costume Exhibition Opening Tomorrow

No, you can't borrow that flapper dress for Halloween, but you can ogle from afar.

Drexel Costume Collection

Intricate beading and craftsmanship from the collection. | Photo by Lauren McGrath.

Fashion junkies, aspiring designers and blogger wannabes alike: The greatest fashion resource in this city is about to open its doors to the public. Starting tomorrow, you can now view treasures from the expansive Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection in a free exhibition, Immortal Beauty, running through December. We got an exclusive look at the exhibit to see if all the hype and mystery surrounding Drexel’s costume collection was worth it. The short answer: Absolutely. Read on to catch a sneak peek at some of the highlights.


The collection contains a healthy mix of old and new. | Lauren McGrath.

Drexel has distinguished itself as a frontrunner in the design world, nabbing an impressive (and well-deserved) ranking as one of the top ten fashion design schools in the world. But what hasn’t made its way into the headlines — yet — is the school’s world-class fashion archives. Started in 1898, the collection has grown to over 14,000 items and is a hidden fashion gem tucked away in Drexel’s URBN Center. Previously, the collection was only open to Drexel students by appointment for research purposes. However, thanks to a grant from the Richard C. von Hess Foundation, the Immortal Beauty exhibition is now open to the public, displaying rare and historic items worn by both cultural icons and faceless fashion mavens.


Statement handbags and daring backs are nothing new. | Lauren McGrath.

Curator Claire Sauro was faced with the task of whittling down the vast collection for the exhibition. “We knew we had to tell the story of the collection, so we started with the ones that were the absolute highlights and worked backwards from there,” says Sauro of the selection process. One of her favorites is a coral beaded Givenchy dress, a floor-length gown worn three times by Philly’s own Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. This dress is just one of 78 jaw-droppers, all rare displays of amazing workmanship, iconic decade styles and innovative design.


Clothes from varying decades, all within the same color palette. | Lauren McGrath.

The collection truly tells a powerful story about the history of fashion, anthropology and what our clothes say about us as a society. It not only reinforces the adage that history repeats itself (especially in fashion), but also inspires us viewers to dress fearlessly.


Oscar de la Renta never goes out of style. | Lauren McGrath.

The Details: Immortal Beauty opens tomorrow, October 2nd, and runs until December 12th. The exhibit is free and open to the public Tuesday-Sundays from 11:00am to 6:00pm.