Legacy of fashion, personality comes to life in new textiles exhibit that opens Jan. 21

AMES, Iowa -- A designer clothing collection will debut at Iowa State University on Jan. 21, in an exhibit continuing through April 19 in the Mary Alice Gallery, Morrill Hall. "The Story of a Collector: Anne Zimmerman," is a donated, 25-piece anthology of clothing, dating the 1940s-1980s, featuring styles and accessories that have become iconic in the fashion industry.

The Zimmerman collection is a glimpse of one woman's love for fashion and a gathering of innovative pieces of clothing. Zimmerman, who spent much of her professional life working in the communications field, got an early start in fashion editing and promotions in Los Angeles. Later relocating to Chicago and then Des Moines, Zimmerman demonstrated a passion for high fashion until her death in 2007. In 2008, her husband Kent Zimmerman donated the collection to the Iowa State Clothing and Textiles Museum, sharing her legacy with all who see it.

"This ensemble of great American and European pieces is one woman's vision for collecting," said Sara Marcketti, exhibit co-curator and assistant professor in apparel, educational studies, and hospitality management (AESHM). "Each piece tells us a little about who she was and the kind of designs that inspired her."

Museum goers will see pieces from well-known fashion designers, including Ralph Lauren and Rudi Gernreich, as well as samples from lesser-known designers such as Tina Leser and Pauline Trigère. Decorative hats will also be on display, showcasing Zimmerman's ability to appreciate both the functional and fanciful sides of high fashion.

"People will truly see where iconic trends began through this collection," Marcketti said. "There are significant moments in fashion history on display, such as the Claire McCardell shirt dress, or the André Courrèges mini-dress. These designers created pieces that changed the way women dressed."

Marcketti said the rarely- or never-worn items arrived at the museum in excellent condition. While neither Zimmerman nor her husband are Iowa State alums, close connections with Denise Essman ('73 industrial administration), provided an avenue to fulfill Zimmerman's wish of donating her clothing, while still maintaining its value and elegance. The condition of the garments, coupled with their rarity and high-fashion status, has elevated the value of the collection to over $32,000.

"Our museum collection is greatly enhanced by the addition of these items," said Jean Parsons, exhibit co-curator and associate professor in AESHM. "The generosity of Mr. Zimmerman has been remarkable, and we're very thankful for his donation of this immaculate example of fashion history for people of all ages to appreciate."

A reception for the exhibit is scheduled for Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. in the Mary Alice Gallery. Normal museum hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., through April 19.