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A Fashionable Hidden Gem: The KSU Museum

Spring with the Kent State University has been lovely this year! It's my personal happy place, and it's been far too long since I've shared it with you.

A variety of hats on display now in Head To Toe

A Treasure In Our Back Yard

Cleveland is full of fashion, just look at you! Look at our favorite locally-owned shops, designers, and influencers- there's beauty, passion, and taste all around us. As people who love fashion, we love fashion not just for the clothes we wear, but for what makes them special. Your clothes have history with you, and the labels in them have history with the world. It's a big thing to think about, and a very fun thing to explore.

The Kent State University Museum houses over 30,000 fashion and art objects in a historic building on the Kent State campus, attached to the Kent State University School Of Fashion. Four centuries of fashion from iconic designers, iconic donors, and iconic wearers make up a collection so wonderous, it's nearly unfathomable. To explore the details, links have been provided where applicable to the museum website, printed in grey.

A timeline of fashion greets you, a permanent exhibition full of ever-changing garments that take you through centuries of dress. Small cases displaying some of the museum's unique objet (and one that holds my old internship project, highlighting the museum's bags!) take you back from the timeline. Upstairs, As The World Weds: Global Wedding Traditions and Pathfinders: Kent State University School Of Fashion Alumni highlight the curatorial talents of the museum's staff and the talents of the Kent State University School Of Fashion Alumni, respectively. On your way out (before stopping in the shop!) you'll find the exhibit Head To Toe.

A Bonnie Cashin coat (1) and a Vivienne Westwood coat (3) accompanied by various shoes (2;4) in Head To Toe

Head To Toe

The museum's newest exhibition, Head To Toe, is comprised of It's A Wrap! Coats, Heads Up! Hats and Stepping Out! Shoes. A dazzling selection of coats, hats, and shoes gives a taste of the depth and breadth of the museum's collection. The exhibit includes pieces designed by Christian Louboutin, Bonnie Cashin, Philip Treacy and Vivienne Westwood; and pieces donated by historical icons and prominent collectors like Katharine Hepburn and Savanna Vaughn Clark. The theme provides a perfect opportunity to showcase the variety of what the museum has to offer as well as the creative and curatorial talents of the museum staff.

Chapeaux & Champagne

Dreamt up by one of the museum's donors (and one of the most glamorous, generous, and inspirational people I've ever met) the Chapeaux & Champagne friend-raiser event took place just last week! It was an honor to moderate a panel with museum director Sarah J. Rogers and Rocky River Milliner Lee St. Marie, and to offer a private chance to enjoy the museum! Yes, I am sharing about an event that's already happened, but there will be more! If you are interested in attending any museum events or exhibition openings, and exploring opportunities to engage with the museum, please contact me! I'd be happy to answer questions and add you to my guest list.

A Personal Note

Many of you know I struggled as a student. The museum provided the perfect space for me to reflect on why I was attending the Kent State University School Of Fashion. On hard days when it seemed like my best efforts weren't enough, and I wasn't cut out to be a college student, I'd visit the museum. The peace of the museum, surrounded by beautiful things that inspired me reminded me why I was there and what fashion meant to me.

When the opportunity to meet with Director Sarah J. Rogers and collaborate with the museum came to me, I never could've imagined everything that would follow. Sarah's confidence in me shocked me, as it was apparent from our first meeting. As our collaborations continued during my time as a student, leading to the internship that would get me my degree, her mentorship and friendship became the highlight of my time at Kent State and a monumental part of my career and connection to fashion. Collaborating with the museum as a whole, working with the entire small-but-mighty staff, a phenomenal group of knowlegeable, kind, passionate people- all of whom inspire me, was an honor as a student and continues to be as a valuable part of my career.


How To Engage

I would like to strongly encourage you all to visit and consider memberships. It makes for a beautiful day trip, and Kent is a lovely little college town to explore. If you would ever like to coordinate a visit to the museum with me, please feel free to reach out and discuss, I'm happy to! Additional resources are linked below.

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