The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection consists of historically important women’s, men’s, and children’s fashions, dating from 1600 to 1950. Among the notable objects are garments associated with Queens Caroline, Victoria, Alexandra, and Mary of England; Czarina Marie of Russia; and Empress Eugénie of France. Major haute couture designers include: Worth, Doucet, Pingat, Fortuny, Poiret, Vionnet, and Chanel.
Gathered over a fifty-year period by well-known, Los Angeles-based historian Helen Larson, this collection helped to establish the academic study of fashion history. It was formed at the same time as the Doris Langley Moore Collection in Bath, England, and the Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This is the last collection of its kind still in private hands, and would be nearly impossible to duplicate in depth and breadth of objects.
The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum is seeking the acquisition of the approximately 1,100-piece Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection. FIDM Museum Costume Historian and Curator, Kevin Jones is championing this effort in order to launch the Museum into the international realm of European fashion studies, particularly royal history.
"She would go out and find a garment that she wanted to include in her collection, but most of the time it was a trunk full of clothes that the garment was in. She couldn't just cherry pick…she’d have to buy everything, if it was at an estate sale in England...she would then take all those other garments that she didn't want to put in her private most collection, and she started a business -- of renting those outfits to the movie and theater world, to then make money, to go out and find more historic dress."
- Kevin Jones,
FIDM Museum Costume Historian and Curator