DALLAS — Fashion history is coming to downtown Dallas.

The University of North Texas plans to share with the public a collection that has grown to 15,000 pieces when it opens an exhibition space on Sept. 21 called Fashion on Main. The facility will be located off the lobby of the Universities Center at Dallas, a cooperative at 1901 Main Street where six state universities offer graduate classes.

“I’m so excited, I can’t believe it’s true,” said Myra Walker, director of the Texas Fashion Collection, who has worked for two years to secure the space. “It is time to share our treasures…and work toward the longtime goal of establishing a fashion museum and resource center in Dallas.”

The collection was started in 1938 by the late retail guru Stanley Marcus and his brother, Edward, so it’s fitting that the new gallery is only two blocks from Neiman Marcus headquarters. The pieces date from the 19th century to the present and are highlighted by fashions from Balenciaga, Givenchy, Norman Norell, James Galanos, Oscar de la Renta and Balmain by Oscar de la Renta, hundreds of which were donated by Mercedes Bass, a Texas socialite and philanthropist.

The estimated 500-square-foot space will open with “Flights of Fancy,” a show of 25 to 30 looks and accessories festooned with feathers, Walker said. She hopes to raise funds for a permanent home for the collection on a floor of the downtown building.

“Dallas is a fashion-oriented city, and a great fashion museum is in the same category as a great art museum,” said Heidi Dillon, who started a nonprofit group called the Fashionistas to raise money for a museum. “It adds to the quality of life and defines who we are.”

The Fashionistas, with more than 200 members, is sponsoring the initial opening and wants to raise $200,000 to glamorize the space, Dillon said.

The collection will stay housed at the University of North Texas’ School of Visual Arts on the main campus in Denton, about 35 miles northwest of Dallas.

This story first appeared in the June 23, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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