Get a peek at our vast array of mid-century women’s garments as museum staff work to photograph and archive the collection. Open Mon.–Fri. through April 28, from 10:00 am–12:30 pm & 1:30–3:30 pm.

About the Project

Our mid-century women’s costume collection is stepping out. In a pop-up photo studio on the first floor, visitors can watch museum staff at work dressing and photographing mannequins in trendsetting outfits—from jumpsuits to evening gowns, dating from the 1940s–1960s—for inclusion on our online Collections Portal. The garments, worn by notable New York women and created by celebrated designers, document the city’s arrival as a fashion capital. The photos will be uploaded to our online Collections Portal for browsing by social historians, fashion scholars, costume designers, and the general public. Many will also be on view as part of Mod New York: Fashion Takes a Trip, opening in early 2017.

Dressing Room is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am–12:30 pm and 1:30–3:30 pm.
Join us at the Dressing Room finale on Saturday, April 30, featuring a talk with curator Phyllis Magidson!

Join the conversation. #DressingRoomNY

The work to digitize, conserve, and catalog women’s garments from our celebrated Costumes and Textiles Collection is supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museums for America program.


NYC Midcentury Fashion Secrets: On the Dressing Room Set with Curator Phyllis Magidson from Museum of the City of New York on Vimeo.

Cleopatra Meets Couture from Museum of the City of New York on Vimeo.

A Mannequin Steps into Her Balenciaga from Museum of the City of New York on Vimeo.

Costume Highlights

Some of the most noteworthy garments that we'll be photographing include:

  • The “Rosie the Riveter” jumpsuit commissioned by Sperry Gyroscope in 1942 and designed by Vera Maxwell as a comfortable and practical female war workers’ uniform
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes author Anita Loos’s ca. 1958 Chantilly- lace cocktail gown designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga
  • Harlem fashion designer/dressmaker Ruby Bailey’s “Bugs” cocktail dress, printed with webs and adorned with silhouetted spiders and jeweled bees, worn to the “Bugs” Cotton Extravaganza held at Lenox Avenue’s legendary Savoy Ballroom in 1953-54.
  • A Halston mink-trimmed evening gown and mask worn by Candice Bergen to Truman Capote’s storied 1966 Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel.
  • Garments worn by several women from the International Best Dressed List (founded by arts and fashion advocate Eleanor Lambert in 1940 to boost the reputation of American fashion), including socialite Countess Mona Von Bismarck; former fashion editor at Vogue, Barbara “Babe” Paley; Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor; and actress Lauren Bacall

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