Christian Dior once said: “We invent nothing, we always start from something that has come before.” The Ryerson Fashion Research Collection is a collection of several thousand donated dress artifacts that are available for design research and inspiration or as evidence of how fashion was created and worn for material culture studies. In this way, the collection serves to support the School of Fashion’s objectives of promoting heritage, diversity and innovation. Dress artifacts include women’s, men’s and children’s garments, undergarments, furs, hats, shoes, purses, parasols, fans and other accessories. The oldest garment is dated to 1815-1818 and is a muslin long-sleeved dress with leaf motif and inserts of bobbin lace around the neckline. The collection is particularly strong in hats as well as mid-to late nineteenth-century women’s wear. The designer archive includes many contemporary designers such as Armani, Balenciaga, Dior, and Valentino, as well as Canadian designers such as Marilyn Brooks, Wayne Clark, Ruth Dukas, Pat McDonagh, Maggie Reeves, and Alfred Sung. The collection also includes ephemera such as fashion periodicals dating back to 1900, patterns and photographs.
Access to the collection is by appointment only. Students, faculty, and visiting scholars are invited to request a research appointment, which are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is hoped that at some future date catalogue access will be open to all via a web portal, but in the meantime highlights from the collection and further information about how to make an appointment on the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection blog: www.ryerson-fashion-research-collection.com.