About

About the Costume and Textile Collection

Collection Holdings and Dates

Part of the University’s Special Collections, the Textile and Costume Collection is a remarkably diverse and wide-ranging museum-quality collection used for teaching, inspiration, research, and scholarship. The collection’s holdings reflect a broad spectrum of design, cultures and historic periods. The earliest items are a group of about 145 Coptic textiles dating to the 1st century A.D. and a smaller group of Pre-Columbian textiles from the 12th  to 14th  centuries. A collection of European chasubles, lace, and European and Persian textile fragments represent our holdings from the 15th to 17th centuries. The remainder of the Collection dates primarily from the 17th century to the present with the majority of garments and accessories, as well as the Western and non-Western flat textile collection, dating from the mid-18th century onward.

About the Costume and Textile Collection

Collection Highlights

The largest elements of the collection are 19th and 20th century in date, including most of the rare lace collection, industrial textile swatches, swatchbooks, traditional and non-Western garments, interior furnishing samples, and tools and technology-related artifacts. Highlights of the costume collection include examples of haute couture by Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, a Balmain evening gown worn to the wedding of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier of Monaco, and a world class collection of designs by American couturier Arnold Scassi.

Of particular strength in the collection are textiles and garments manufactured or owned in the Philadelphia region. These artifacts range from a John Hewson colonial block-printed quilt and a Germantown stocking knitting frame of the 18th century to early 20th century upholstery samples from the Orinoka mills. It also includes 19th and 20th century carpet samples from Joseph Lomax and Hugh Nelson, 1920s carpet point papers by Philadelphia designer J. G. Speck, and 19th century furnishing trims and braids from F.W. Maurer & Sons of Germantown.

The Collection in the Classroom

Keeping true to the patrimony of Jefferson- East Falls as the first American school of textiles, the collection offers faculty and students alike the opportunity to observe and interact with artifacts that can enhance classroom learning. In Area Studies, students handle and investigate objects from various cultures including South East Asian textiles and footwear from the former Soviet Union. Design students from interior to fashion design have an encyclopedic reference of materials for inspiration and study, which are used both in the classroom and for individual research. As of 2014, classes are also now being taught in the Collection, encouraging students to make use of this vast resource in their studies, while familiarizing them with best practices for the handling and care of invaluable objects.

The Design Center

The collection is housed in the Goldie Paley House, a 1955 “modern-rancher-style” residence, designed by Earle Bolton, Jr. for Blanche Paley Levy’s in-laws, Ike and Rita Levy. It was later owned by Goldie Paley, mother to Blanche and CBS Chairman William S. Paley. Called The Design Center at Jefferson- East Falls, the building is owned and operated by the University.