April 13–September 2, 2024

Dress Up

“Playing dress up begins at five and never truly ends.”—Kate Spade

Fashion allows us to take on different roles, choosing clothes, jewelry, shoes, handbags, and other accessories to transform the way we are seen and the way we see ourselves. One’s choice of dress can make a political statement, express a mood or communicate personal identities. Through more than 100 works from the MFA’s collection, “Dress Up” celebrates 20th- and 21st-century style with fashions by Alexander McQueen, Bob Mackie, Pauline Trigère, Patrick Kelly, and Oscar de la Renta; jewelry from designers like Hattie Carnegie, Lanvin, Elsa Peretti, Schreiner, and Trifari; accessories by designers like Thom Solo; illustrations; and photographs by Cecil Beaton and Martin Parr.

Looking at jewelry as fashion and fashion as jewelry, this exhibition removes the delineation between the two to focus on how they play an integral and inseparable role in self-fashioning. Objects with beads, sequins, and sparkles blur the lines between fashion and jewelry while at the same time extending and expanding our ideas about them. From a jeweled brooch or shoe, to an heirloom ring or little black dress, each selection can represent a variety of stories and lived experiences.

Thematic sections explore child’s play, identity politics and more, and feature myriad new acquisitions—including shoes and dresses from the collection of Donna Summer, an ensemble by Project Runway alumna Korina Emmerich and local jewelry artist Tiffany Vanderhoop, and a ring by Of Rare Origin, a version of which was worn by poet Amanda Gorman at the 2020 US presidential inauguration. Spectacular loans include an Iris Apfel ensemble from the Peabody Essex Museum and cuff bracelets designed by Fulco di Verdura for Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, which she was photographed wearing throughout her life.

  • Henry and Lois Foster Gallery (Gallery 158)

Summer of Style

Visitors looking at various colorful kpop outfits on mannequins in Hallyu exhibition

As the weather heats up, check out more of the coolest fashions in ”Beyond Brilliance: Jewelry Highlights from the Collection” and “Hallyu! The Korean Wave,” which includes outfits worn by K-pop idols, traditional garments, and couture dresses.


Related Events


Dressing up for “Dress Up”


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Northern Trust

Additional generous support from the David and Roberta Logie Fund for Textile and Fashion Arts. Supported by the Loring Textile Gallery Exhibition Fund and the Fashion Council.

With gratitude to Leica Gallery & Store Boston.