Stephens College Dream Up


Costume Museum & Research Library

The Costume Museum & Research Library (est. 1958) has grown by donations from alumnae, friends and designers to more than 13,000 pieces, including representations of ethnic wear, everyday clothes of women, men and children, and an impressive list of designer garments.

Among the many designers represented are Oleg Cassini, Arnold Scaasi, Gilbert Adrian, Bill Blass, Bonnie Cashin, Chanel, Courreges, Madame Etta, Claire McCardell, Norman Norell, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino. This working collection of garments and accessories dating back to 1730 allows students to study not only garment construction but fashion trends that provide inspiration for current styles with actual hands-on experience. Archival storage areas protect the integrity of the collection, and classroom space allows for research and lecture discussions. The collection also is viewable via an online museum.

Historic Costume Gallery

Two public exhibits are held in the Historic Costume Gallery (on the mezzanine floor of Lela Raney Wood Hall, 6 N. College Ave.) throughout the year. All exhibits are free and open to the public.

The latest exhibit, “The Day. The Dress. The Dream.” features bridal gowns and wedding attire from three centuries. Highlights of the exhibit include a dress worn at Grace Kelly’s wedding, an exquisite Vera Wang dress on loan and a 1949 design by Ceil Chapman, a celebrity stylist during Hollywood’s Golden Era. Also on display will be custom designs by Stephens alumnae; multi-generational dresses worn by grandmothers, mothers and daughters; and other wedding attire such as mother-of-the-bride dresses and grooms’ formal attire. 

The exhibit opens Feb. 26 and runs through May 10.

As part of the exhibit, Cornelia Powell, wedding folklorist and costume historian, will present “Vintage Inspiration: The Brides of Downton Abbey” at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 14, in the Historic Senior Hall Recital Room. The presentation is free and open to the public.

A brunch with Powell will precede the presentation at 10 a.m. in the Senior Hall Parlors. The cost is $30 per person, and those interested must RSVP with payment by March 4. Checks or money orders may be sent to the School of Fashion and Design, 1200 East Broadway, Box 2042, Columbia, Mo., 65215. Payments can also be made by calling (573) 876-7105.


Exhibit Hours
12 to 1 p.m. Wednesdays
5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays
12 to 3 p.m. Saturdays & Sundays 

For more information:
Costume Museum & Research Library
Stephens College
School of Design & Fashion
Campus Box 2042
1200 E. Broadway
Columbia, MO 65215

To donate/schedule exhibit tours:
Phone: (573) 876-7220

General info:
Phone: (573) 876-7233
[email protected]

Online Museum Collection

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