A Life in Style: The Wardrobe of James E. Mulholland

KENT, OHIO – The Kent State University Museum is proud to announce a significant gift to the Museum’s permanent collection. James E. Mulholland, who spent his career in the New York fashion industry, is giving the KSU Museum over 160 pieces of contemporary menswear from his personal wardrobe. "This one, extraordinary gift immediately transforms our collection. The KSU Museum is now one of the few in the country with such a rich holding of menswear from the 1980s to today," explained Director Sarah J. Rogers. She continued, "We are so very grateful to Mr. Mulholland for his generosity and desire to share these significant garments with our students, our community, and beyond."

To celebrate this remarkable donation, The KSU Museum will present the exhibition, “A Life in Style: The Wardrobe of James E. Mulholland” which opened on June 30, 2023. On view through April 28, the exhibition draws from Mulholland’s gift to the Museum, as well as selections from his current wardrobe.

Clothes are an expression of who we are. This exhibition tells the personal story of Mr. Mulholland and how clothes are incorporated into a life. Influences on his style range from film references, favorite designers' collections, a love of fine craftsmanship, and playful reinterpretation of classic menswear. The items on display span decades beginning in the 1980s and showcase the evolution of how he dressed. The looks, both past and present, are assembled from personal favorite pieces that blend various designers across seasons and years.

As a fashion industry insider, Mulholland is appreciative of the subtleties of design and craftsmanship. Compared to women’s fashion, menswear is limited in color, cut, and material. The exhibition shares the lessons of the beauty of the play of details within seemingly rigid parameters. The designers that Mr. Mulholland wears are known for their exploration and experimentation within these limitations. Designers included in the collection are Prada, Tom Ford for Gucci, Calvin Klein, Yohji Yamamoto, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Jil Sander and Dries Van Noten. Rather than explore the creative genius of individual designers, however, this exhibition emphasizes the role of the consumer in determining what style looks like. “A Life in Style” is co-curated by the KSU Museum Curator, Dr. Sara Hume, and Mr. James E. Mulholland.

The exhibition is supported by Karen and Ken Conley and through a sustainability grant from The Ohio Arts Council.


The Kent State University Museum is located at 515 Hilltop Drive, at the corner of East Main Street and South Lincoln Street in Kent, Ohio. It features more than 29,000 pieces in its collection, amassed from many generous donors. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon - 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in person at the museum or in advance through the museum’s online ticketing service.

Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children ages 5 to 17. The museum is free for children under 5 and for those with a Kent State ID. Sunday admission is free for all ages. Parking is free for all museum attendees. Patrons should use the allotted museum spaces in the Rockwell Hall parking lot. For more information, please call 330-672-3450 or visit www.kent.edu/museum.

Images left to right: 
Outfit 1: Red double-faced wool oversized coat: Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent, French, Autumn/Winter 2007, Loan courtesy of Mr. James Mulholland, L2023.5.74; Black wool/mohair blend pajama: Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli for the House of Valentino, Italian, Autumn/Winter 2016, Loan courtesy of Mr. James Mulholland, L2023.5.75 ab; Black, red, and ivory "flora & fauna" printed silk scarf: Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli for the House of Valentino, Italian, Autumn/Winter 2016, Loan courtesy of Mr. James Mulholland, L2023.5.85; Black bead and crystal necklace: Karl Lagerfeld for the House of Chanel , French, 1985, Gift of Mrs. Marcia Mulholland, KSUM 2022.7.4; 
Outfit 2: Taupe twill blazer lined with vintage scarf patchwork worn inside out: Comme des Garçons, Japanese, Autumn/Winter 2011, Gift of Mr. James Mulholland, KSUM 2022.14.3; Indigo denim sarouel pant: Yohji Yamamoto, Japanese, Spring/Summer 2019, Loan courtesy of Mr. James Mulholland, L2023.5.73; Beige fedora with charred detail: Nick Fouquet, American, Spring/Summer 2017, Gift of Mr. James Mulholland, KSUM 2022.6.20; Navy, red and camel kilim-patterned fur-lined slippers: Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Italian, Autumn/Winter 2017, Loan courtesy of Mr. James Mulholland, L2023.5.10a-e; 
Outfit 3: Camel hair overcoat: Pier Paolo Piccioli for the House of Valentino, Italian, Autumn/Winter 2017, Loan courtesy of Mr. James Mulholland, L2023.5.69; Burgundy cotton short-sleeved pullover shirt with velcro placket: Consuelo Castiglioni for Marni, Italian, Spring/Summer 2017, Loan courtesy of Mr. James Mulholland, L2023.5.90; Burgundy, navy, and ivory silk and cotton “shibori” scarf: Tomas Maier for Bottega Veneta, Italian, Spring/Summer 2011, Loan courtesy of Mr. James Mulholland, L2023.5.82; Brown leather necklace with cigarette case with mirror and whipstitching: Anthony Vaccarello for Yves Saint Laurent, French, Spring/Summer 2018, Loan courtesy of Mr. James Mulholland, L2023.5.101;

POSTED: Wednesday, May 17, 2023 11:08 AM
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2023 01:41 PM