Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising hosts A-Z fashion exhibit

For Megan Osborne, the curator for the A-Z Treasures of Collection exhibit, there’s no difference between a fine painting and a fine piece of clothing.

The exhibit, which opened Aug. 24 and will be on display in the CSU Avenir museum for the next five months, features two items of clothing that represent each letter of the alphabet (one for both the upper- and lower-case).


“Fashion is wearable art. It has the same design process and construction as any other artform.  It’s an art where the medium is cloth,” Osborne said.

This philosophy shows in the arrangement of the display, which features pieces from the 18th century to the 20th. Putting the exhibition together was “definitely a process,” said Osborne.

“What we have now is the final iteration of many, which is meant to be appealing, but interesting,” she said.

Dr. Susan Torntore, the usual curator, said, “The theme is really the ABCs, with something to represent each of the 26 letters. The uppercase are all fashion pieces and historical pieces, and the lowercase are accessories.”

Discussing the inspiration for the show, Osborne said, “I started with ‘P,’”— a gold and red piece with the near-androgynous, low waist of a 1920’s flapper dress and the pannier waist of an 18th century French dress—“which is one of my favorites, and I developed a show for ‘P’ to be a part of.”

“These are all pieces that could never be displayed otherwise,” explained Dr. Torntore.

Many of the articles — “P” included — lack accompanying items or were unique for their time, making it impractical to devise a show to display them.

“It’s an amazing new way to look at them, putting old pieces and more contemporary pieces together in juxtaposition,” Dr. Torntore said.

“The rest of the show came from a children’s book, and I expanded on that idea,” Osborne said. “[I found] things that went together, and there are some new pieces and some old ones.”

“We had a variety of donors, and we have pieces from lots of different time periods,” Osborne said. “I put together something visually fun for each letter.”


“It’s a little different,” she continued.  “I didn’t want ‘B’ to be for ‘bustle,’ since that’s to be expected, so instead I had the bustle dress under ‘A’ for its asymmetrical design.”

For anyone who’s wondering, “B” is a bubble dress.

While the dresses and coats lining the walls certainly catch the eye, the drawers in the back of the room hold items of interest as well.

“There are accessories, technology, all kinds of beautiful objects,” said Dr. Torntore. These objects include, but aren’t limited to, an Aggie letter sweater, men’s collars, darning eggs, and beaded bags.

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Reporter Emily Kribs can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.