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Fashion Timeline

June 29, 2012 - June 28, 2015

Palmer and Mull Galleries

| Sara Hume, Curator

The “Fashion Timeline” showcases the Kent State University Museum’s world-class collection of historic fashions. Encompassing two centuries of fashion history, this exhibition is designed to show the evolution of styles and silhouettes while contextualizing the pieces with relevant political, technological and cultural developments.

Click here to see the virtual timeline that accompanies the exhibit.


The first gallery spans the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. This was a period of revolutionary change that can clearly be seen reflected in the fashions. The American and French Revolutions radically changed the political landscapes while the industrial revolution transformed how goods, particularly clothing and textiles, were made. The luxury and rococo excesses of the eighteenth century gave way to the romanticism and neoclassicism of the early nineteenth century. The next room includes the second half of the nineteenth century to the dawn of World War I. Synthetic dyes opened up a world of color and the sewing machine facilitated the application of yards of ruffles, pleats, and fringe. The upholstered, heavy styles of the Victorian era eventually gave way to Edwardian froth and lace. The final room finishes the timeline with fashions of the early twentieth century. While it may have been a period of world wars and depression, fashions also reflected the heydays of jazz and swing, the boldness of Art Deco, and the endless possibilities of technology from plastics to rockets.


In addition to the garments on view in the Palmer and Mull Galleries, an array of accessories, particularly shoes and hats, line the hallways. The silhouettes are the most obvious changes that can be seen, but there are also changes in textiles and colors. The display is intended to be a permanent feature at the museum, but the individual pieces will be rotated frequently so there is always something new to see.


The “Fashion Timeline” showcases the Kent State University Museum’s world-class collection of historic fashions. Encompassing two centuries of fashion history, this exhibition is designed to show the evolution of styles and silhouettes while contextualizing the pieces with relevant political, technological and cultural developments.