Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Snap Inc. Partner to launch Augmented Reality Try-on Experience in Celebration of Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style

Nov 16, 2023

33b8006c D4ce 44ea Af29 Bd6914dcf9a6

[Image 1] © Estate of Kaisik Wong. Photograph by Jorge Bachmann, courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. [Image 2] Valentino Garavani (b. 1932) (Designer) Evening gown, 1987. Printed silk taffeta, silk and lurex velvet. Collection of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Gift of Carole McNeil, 2021, 41.2. Photograph by Randy Dodson, courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco


Three Snap AR Mirrors Will Dress Visitors in Ensembles by Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, and Kaisik Wong


Exhibition and AR Experience Go On View at the de Young on January 20, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO, November 16, 2023— The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (the “Fine Arts Museums”) and Snap Inc. today announced an interactive augmented reality installation at the de Young museum that celebrates how technology is transforming the way we experience fashion and culture. It will launch on January 20, 2024, at the opening of the Fine Arts Museums’ major exhibition Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style, which spans a century of high fashion and haute couture worn by Bay Area women. It marks the first time Snap's AR Mirrors have been featured in a US museum.

From bohemian styles to elegant evening wear, fashion is an important form of personal expression for San Franciscans, inspired by the city’s location on the Pacific Rim and its inclusive mindset. Drawn from the Fine Arts Museums’ exceptional costume holdings, Fashioning San Francisco will present the work of more than 50 fashion designers, from Balmain to Miyake, Valentino to McQueen, with the majority of ensembles to be on view for the very first time.


Snapchat augmented reality will give visitors the chance to see how three evening ensembles presented in the exhibition look on them. This technology will immerse them in the creative vision of some of the world's most iconic designers, as they virtually try on outfits by the late French designer Yves Saint Laurent, Chinese-American Bay Area-based designer Kaisik Wong, and Italian designer Valentino.

Fashioning San Francisco chronicles the ways in which style in the Bay Area has evolved over generations. Thanks to Snap’s augmented reality mirrors our visitors will have the opportunity to visualize themselves as a part of this history and to imagine their role in charting the city’s next sartorial chapter,” stated Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

“This project showcases how Snapchat can support the arts by using augmented reality in innovative, impactful, and stylish ways,” said Rajni Jacques, Global Head of Fashion & Beauty at Snap Inc. “Our partnership with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is a testament to how augmented reality can infiltrate culture, encourage creativity and self expression, and bring historic couture to life like never before.”

Snap’s AR Mirrors bridge the gap between the digital and physical, bringing together its AR technology stack designed specifically for physical screens to capture real-time images via a camera that projects onto the screen with AR.


Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style

Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style will examine the role of style as a marker of social identity. The exhibition draws mainly from the significant costume collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; including a rich selection of high fashion and haute couture ensembles generously donated by Bay Area women philanthropists.

Fashioning San Francisco situates the Fine Arts Museums’ remarkable high fashion and haute couture collections within the context of the city’s development and the ascension of Bay Area women as civic, social, cultural, and sartorial leaders,” states Laura L. Camerlengo, Curator in Charge of Costume and Textile Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “These individuals further contributed to the cultural fiber of their communities by donating their wardrobes to the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco for the preservation and the benefit of future generations. We are delighted to honor and elevate their legacies.”

Fashioning San Francisco commences in the early 20th century, a time when San Francisco was regaining its position and redefining itself in the wake of the city’s earthquake and fire in 1906. The city’s desire to assert its international status in the wake of disaster manifested in the dress codes of its prominent women. Such manifestations included imported French fashions brought into the city through its port, as well as presentations of French couture gowns at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, French peoples formed one of the largest immigrant communities in San Francisco, and upon their arrival, they began importing French goods. The exhibition will feature a number of early French designs including rare Callot Sœurs and Lucile gowns, which attest to San Francisco’s burgeoning affluence and cosmopolitanism.

From here the exhibition continues chronologically to explore how the city’s geographic location further contributed to the blossoming of international trade in the city, including the rise of department stores as importers of European haute couture in the mid-20th century. San Francisco boasted a robust economy, fostering legendary department stores such as I. Magnin, City of Paris, The White House, and Lilli Ann. These and others played a critical role in the development of San Franciscan style.

Indeed, the allure of luxury runs deep in San Francisco’s style ethos, aligned with the city’s active social calendar, itself fueled by the city’s vibrant cultural sector. With these events offering fashion and civic leaders opportunities to dress their best, Fashioning San Francisco will feature gowns, cocktail dresses, and evening attire by European couturiers such as Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior—many once retailed by the city’s department stores and worn to major society events. The exhibition will also dedicate a section to the most indispensable piece in a wardrobe, “the little black dress,” featuring spectacular interpretations by Christian Dior, Karl Lagerfield, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, and more.

San Franciscans have a long-standing history of being among the first to embrace the experimental in dress, both supporting and wearing designers with a knack for the radical. Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe, and Yohji Yamamoto will be featured in a section that explores the avant-garde creatives redefined conventional fashion in the 20th and 21st centuries. Fashioning San Francisco will also explore the work of Western designers who have been inspired by the aesthetics of Asian, African, and other international cultures to address cultural appropriation and its contemporary discourse.

Fashioning San Francisco will honor San Francisco Bay Area women civic leaders, business owners, and public influencers, by presenting the “power suits” they wore as they helped shape and build the city. Indicative of San Francisco, these suits embody the city’s specific climate, terrain, and varied aesthetics, presenting San Francisco as a working city for confident women.

The exhibition will conclude with a selection of shoes from the Fine Arts Museums’ permanent collection, highlighting a mix of materials and styles that reflect the diverse roles and tastes of the San Franciscans who wore them. From their fine leather craftsmanship to embellishments of bright colors, spangles and shoes in this section of the exhibition will assert footwear are an important accessory in establishing their wearer’s sense of self.

As traditional studies of fashion history have prioritized designers and narratives from the so-called “major” fashion cities of Paris, Milan, London, and New York, Fashioning San Francisco challenges the conventional notions of what makes a “fashion city.”

Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style is curated by Laura L. Camerlengo, Curator in Charge of Costume and Textile Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. It will be on view at the de Young museum January 20 through August 11, 2024. \ @deyoungmuseum

Fashions on view by:
Pierre Balmain

Frederick Gibson Bayh

Geoffrey Beene

Manolo Blahnik


Bill Blass

Louise Boulanger

Thea Cadabra-Rooke

Callot Soeurs

Roberto Capucci

Gabrielle Chanel

Comme des Garçons

Sybil Connolly

Jacques Costet

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac

Oscar de la Renta

Herman Delman

Markis Der Balian

Marchesa Olga di Grésy

Christian Dior

Jacques Fath

Gianfranco Ferré

Mariano Fortuny

James Galanos

John Galliano

Valentino Garavani

Jean Paul Gaultier

Madame Alix Grès

Peggy Hoyt

Charles Jourdan

Rei Kawakubo

Christian Lacroix

Julio Laffitte

Karl Lagerfeld

Jeanne Lanvin

Beth Levine


Alexander McQueen

Issey Miyake

Kei Ninomiya                                                       

On Aura Tout Vu

Edwin Oudshoorn

Jean Patou



Christopher John Rogers

Ralph Rucci

Yves Saint Laurent

Richard Tam

Vivienne Tam

Emanuel Ungaro

Roger Vivier

Junya Watanabe

Vivienne Westwood

Kaisik Wong

Yohji Yamamoto

Pietro Yantorny

Zhang Hongtu


Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style will be accompanied by a 200-page exhibition catalogue, which includes in-depth, scholarly essays that explore San Francisco’s position as a port city on the Pacific Rim and the symbiotic relationship between its sartorial and sociopolitical landscapes, with a special focus on women’s contributions to civic life and how they have shaped the collection, in addition to a lavish selection of full-color imagery of the Fine Arts Museums’ holdings.

Exhibition Organization

Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Presenting support is provided by John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn. Leading support is provided by The Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund and Diane B. Wilsey. Major support is provided by Yurie and Carl Pascarella, Denise Littlefield Sobel, and Christine Suppes. Significant support is provided by Carole McNeil and The the Diana Dollar Knowles Foundation. Generous support is provided by Lorna Meyer Calas and Dennis Calas, and the Textile Arts Council of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Additional support is provided by Sandra Bessieres, Dr. Roger Budge and Ms. Leslee Jane Budge, the Mary A. Crocker Trust, Dana and Gregory Lee - Ted and Doris Lee Family Foundation, Cathy and Howard Moreland, Jan and Bob Newman, and Gwynned Vitello. AR Partner Snap Inc. 

Visiting \ de Young

The de Young museum is open Tuesday - Sunday 9.30 am - 5.15 pm. For more information, please visit

About the Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Department of Textile Arts

With holdings that span nearly three millennia and represent cultures from 125 countries, the costume and textile arts collection draws connections across cultures and enriches other areas of the permanent collection. The Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Department of Textile Arts contains more than 22,000 textiles and costumes from around the world. A remarkable range of techniques is represented in the works, which include loom-woven textiles, nonwoven fabrics (such as bark cloth, felt, and knitting), and objects embellished with beading and embroidery. Highlights from the collection include extraordinary Turkmen carpets, rare 12th- through 15th-century Central Asian and North Indian silks, the most important group of Anatolian kilims outside Turkey, European tapestries, exquisite ecclesiastical textiles, and contemporary Bay Area fiber art. The de Young is known for its 20th-century couture, particularly from the post–World War II era, with outstanding pieces by Gabrielle Chanel, Christian Dior, Madame Grès, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Past fashion exhibitions include Yves Saint Laurent (2008–2009), Balenciaga and Spain (2011), The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (2012), Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective (2016), The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll (2017), Contemporary Muslim Fashions (2018), Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love (2021) and Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy (2022).

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco oversee the de Young museum, located in Golden Gate Park, and the Legion of Honor, in Lincoln Park. It is the largest public arts institution in San Francisco, and one of the most visited arts institutions in the United States.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate

Park and was established as the Memorial Museum in 1895. It was later renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, who spearheaded its creation. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, opened in October 2005. Reflecting an active conversation among cultures, perspectives, and time periods, the collections on view include American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international modern and contemporary art.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco respectfully acknowledge the Ramaytush Ohlone, the original inhabitants of what is now the San Francisco Peninsula, and acknowledge that the Greater Bay Area is the ancestral territory of the Miwok, Yokuts, Patwin, and other Ohlone. Indigenous communities have lived in and moved through this place over hundreds of generations, and Indigenous peoples from many nations make their home in this region today. Please join us in recognizing and honoring their ancestors, descendants, elders, and communities.


About Snap Inc.

Snap Inc. is a technology company. We believe the camera presents the greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate. We contribute to human progress by empowering people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Helena Nordstrom, Director of Communications,