September 3, 1998, Southfield, Michigan, USA: SANDY SCHREIER at her home in Southfield, Michigan in 1998. Sandy Schreier's collection of 20th century fashion represents the largest and finest private collection in the world. New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and other museums as well, are planning to present  entire exhibitions of this collection. (Credit Image: © Susan Tusa /Detroit Free Press via ZUMA Wire)

Sandy Schreier sure thinks that fashion is art, and she will be making a case for that March 22 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As part of the “Sunday at The Met” series, Schreier and fellow collector and Vogue’s editor at large Hamish Bowles will discuss the art of collecting fashion. In late November, the Detroit native realized a lifetime dream of staging an exhibition, “Sandy Schreier: In Pursuit of Fashion” at the Upper East Side museum’s Costume Institute. On view through May 17, the show features 80 of the 165 gifts that she has promised to the Costume Institute. Visitors to The Met can take a good look at the numerous never-been-worn couture pieces that she acquired over the years. Valentina, Madeleine Vionnet, the Boué Soeurs, Gabrielle Chanel, Jean Dessès, Gilbert Adrian, Christian Dior, Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, Maria Monaci Gallenga, Charles James and Lucien Lelong are among the pristine items on view. And Schreier has plenty more stowed away back in Detroit with 15,000 couture pieces in her collection. Next month’s talk will cover how that expansive collection came to be, the work and rarity of some of the underrepresented couturiers and her gift to the museum.

Thanks to Schreier’s gift, the museum has underrepresented names like the Boué Soeurs, Madeleine & Madeleine, and Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix. Her world-class couture collection was started when she was still a toddler. Schreier used to tag along with her father when he went to work in the fur salon at Russeks. She amassed hundreds of pieces from the gracious socialites, who shopped there. In an interview with WWD in November, she explained, “Daddy’s customers were all the automotive titans’ wives. They were enticed with me, because I looked like Shirley Temple. At the age of two and a half or three, I was sitting there not looking at ‘Mother Goose,’ but swooning over [Edward] Molyneux and [Jean] Patou. They started sending me gifts of seldom-worn or never-been-worn clothing, thinking I was going to play dress up. I never did. I always said to my parents, ‘Don’t touch.’”

Schreier and Bowles first met at a Michael Kors fashion show decades ago. Schreier said via e-mail Friday, “The first day Hamish arrived in U.S. to cover fashion for Harper’s & Queen, he sat behind me at Michael Kors show. (I think I was one of Michael’s first clients,) We began talking and haven’t stopped!”

Schreier has long been a fashion-is-art advocate. Years ago, when her late husband Sherwin had to take business trips to different cities, she would call the leading fine arts museums in those municipalities in advance. “I would drive the directors’ secretaries crazy, saying it was urgent that I speak to them. I would tell them that I was coming in on a certain date and I had to talk to them about the art of couture. They had no idea what I was talking about,” Schreier told WWD during last year’s preview of “In Pursuit of Fashion.” “My husband used to say that I could sell ice to the Eskimos. I got in to see probably 90 percent of the directors. I talked to so many directors over time that my husband called me ‘the director collector.’ I tried to persuade them that fashion was an art form and it belongs in every fine arts museum. So here we are.”

 

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