FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising collects, preserves, and interprets fashion objects and support materials with outstanding design merit. It fosters student learning, public engagement, and recognition of the creative arts and entertainment industries by providing access to the collections through exhibitions, publications, and other research opportunities.
In 1973, the Fashion Design Department of FDIM realized that design students would better understand textile drape, pattern structure, and finishing techniques if they had access to representative garments. Staff and faculty responded by raiding their personal closets to assemble the fledgling Museum’s first "collection." The nonprofit entity FIDM Museum and Library, Inc. was formally established in 1978, and the institution was met with immediate enthusiasm.
The initial holdings were enhanced by a generous gift of French haute couture ensembles from founding donor Betsy Bloomingdale, and in 1985, the estate of Rudi Gernreich bequeathed the designer’s extensive archive. Many subsequent donations, including the Gianni Versace Menswear Archive and the Michel Arnaud Photography Archive have built the collection to more than 15,000 objects covering more than 200 years of history.