Is fashion art? Sandy Schreier would say yes, in the most literal sense of the word, fashion is art. Fashion is to be inspiring, collected and stored in temperature-regulated holdings. But who is Sandy Schreier you may ask?
Schreier is the owner of America’s largest private couture collection, comprising a total of 15,000 pieces, 80 of which will be featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s newly announced fall exhibition, In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection.
Chanel, Schiaparelli and Adrian are just some of the designers in Shreier's archive. She even possesses the Roberto Rojas silver-mesh mini dress that Richard Avedon photographed on Twiggy in 1967!
Raised in Detroit, Schreier was the daughter of a furrier at the Russeks department store. As a young girl, she often accompanied her father to work where she was introduced to the high society of Detroit’s booming automotive industry. It was post World War II and people were obsessed with decadence. Couture was purchased to be worn once, and once only. Women happily gifted their pieces to the fascinated Schreier. At the age of three or four, Schreier began her collection. Her obsession never waned; she is now in her eighties.
Over the years she has lent out pieces to internationally acclaimed museums including the Louvre, the Victoria and Albert and the Hermitage. To the surprise of many, she has never once worn any of the pieces. As she told the New York Times, 'If I owned a Picasso, it would not be on my back.'
The show is apropos. Fashion collecting and archiving has become an extremely important part of the fashion business. Industry heavyweight Christian Dior have greatly invested in cultivating their archives, from which John Galliano and Clare Waight Keller have pooled inspiration. In 2017, Yves Saint Laurent opened two museums, in Paris and in Marrakech, to display designs from their holdings. Given the constant interchange of creative directors at top brands, archiving is now imperative to the preservation of a house's heritage. The MET have been smart to recognise this.
Inspired? Delve into the archives of Christian Dior with John Galliano and Nick Knight in our Past, Present & Couture project.