Fashion and Accessories

Collection Manager: Andrea Klobučar, senior curator,


The Textile Collection of the Museum of Arts and Crafts is one of the fundamental and biggest museum collections and is made up of several sub-collections: religious textiles, tapestries, carpets and kilims, laces and fashion and fashion accessories. In the study collection of fashion of the permanent display of the Museum, select items of clothing and fashion accessories that illustrate the development and changes in the style of clothing from the 17th to the end of the 20th century are shown.

The earliest specimens in the collection of fashion are men’s shoes from the end of the 17th and a woman’s jacket of silk damask, and a skirt of brocaded damask from the beginning of the 18th century. The costly fabric of the skirt has motifs particular to the bizarre style that appeared in textile decoration of the time, and must have been produced by one of the famed silk weaving workshops of Lyons.

It was only from the time of Neoclassicism, i.e. the end of the 18th century, that it is possible in the clothing collection to follow more completely the development and changes in design. From about 1780 is a man’s dress suit of white and brown silk richly decorated with finely worked varicoloured embroidery.

A light white dress, with a high waist in Empire style paired with a grey silk bolero illustrates the period around 1800, while a winter dress coat of dark browny-violet silk cloth, lined with a thin layer of cotton wool, is close to the usual forms of early Biedermeier, while a winter dress of thick cotton cloth with a printed floral pattern already has all the marks of the style.

The fashion of ripe Biedemeier is represented by a dress of dark green silk with a small black brocade pattern and a characteristic broad skirt given shape with petticoats and a stiff wooden construction. The width of the skirt is emphasised by the corset that is pinched in the upper part of the body to the waist.

In the fashion scene of the 1890s the broad skirt or crinoline was replaced by the bustle (so called cul de Paris), a prominent rear part of the skirt obtained with specially made cushions or little metal structures. This fashion detail was additionally emphasised by the jacket closed high up the neck with a tightly laced corset. This fashion trend is very well illustrated by two dresses – one of dark silk taffeta in a combination with a somewhat later lace made in Vienna and a second of golden yellow damask made in Croatia.

The Art Nouveau period in clothing design went on with the trends from the last decade of the 19th century. Many of the characteristic decorations of lace, trimmings, embroidery and various ribbons wrapped a body squeezed into a corset. In this style are two exhibited evening dresses of violet silk and ivory silk, and a day dress of green cloth and lace. A lavishly decorated wedding dress of simplified basic forms with a tunic is a feature of the late Art Nouveau.

The post-Art Nouveau period is represented with two dresses from the period after 1920: an evening dress of black silk taffeta, and another of red silk on which there are decorative motifs woven in velvet. They already hint at the trend to lowering the waist to the hips, to be the basic feature of what was called the Charleston style that appeared in 1924/1925 and lasted until the end of the decade. The charleston also marked the peak of freedom in the design of women’s clothing. The display shows attractive evening dresses of a very simple straight cut, plunging in front and behind. The impression of glamour was achieved with a decoration of brilliant beads and sequins sewn onto the thin, delicate fabric of the dress.

Characteristic of the 1930s is a feminine and elegant figure in clothing with an emphasis on the refined tailoring of a slightly bell-shaped long skirt. A more formal version of the outfit is given by a cocktail dress, an evening dress with a small cloak or bolero, like the black dress on show.

In the first half of the 1940s fashion was dominated by broad padded shoulders and bell shaped knee-length skirts. Clothing was simple, without surplus details, and coats and dresses without collars were very fashionable. This trend is illustrated by a coat of dark blue cloth and a dress of silk in the same colour. The end of the 1940s was marked by the New Look, a fashion trend promoted in Paris by Christian Dior. This style of emphatic femininity brought back a broad, fairly long skirt, a formed petticoat and a waist pinched with foundation garments, often pointed up with a broad belt. An evening dress of silk rep in two shades of yellow has all the characteristics of the style.

The fashion of the last decades of the 20th century is represented with individual specimens of clothing that only to a very small extent reveal the diversity of fashion trends during the period after the 1950s. Most of the garments on display in the permanent display found their way into the Museum’s holdings thanks to the many donations. The survey of the fashion collection in the permanent display is concluded by a creation of Croatian designers, of the fashion studio called “I-gle”.