Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style

By Laura L. Camerlengo, Jill D’Alessandro, Sarah Cheang, John T. Freeman, Laura Garcia-Vedrenne, Anne Evers Hitz, Susan B. Kaiser, Talia Spielholz, Ann Marguerite Tartsinis, and Lewis Watts

Fashioning San Francisco book cover

Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style celebrates the extraordinary collection of twentieth- and twenty-first-century high fashion and haute couture designs at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, home to one of the most significant repositories of its kind in the United States. Published on the occasion of the 2024 exhibition, which features more than one hundred collection highlights and select loans, the volume includes in-depth, scholarly essays that explore from various angles 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.

A lavish selection of full-color plates illustrates the diversity as well as the idiosyncratic strengths of the Museums’ holdings, which include historic gowns from the early twentieth century, classic garments by long-established French couturiers, and Japanese avant-garde designs. The presentation of this collection, formed primarily through donations from Bay Area residents, asserts San Francisco’s position as among one of the world’s major fashion cities.


Laura L. Camerlengo is curator in charge of costume and textile arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She has authored and edited several fashion publications, including, most recently, Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love (2021).

Jill D’Alessandro is the director and curator of the Avenir Institute of Textile Arts and Fashion at the Denver Art Museum. She has authored, edited, and co-edited numerous exhibition catalogues, including Contemporary Muslim Fashions (2018) and Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy (2022).

Sarah Cheang is head of the History of Design program at the Royal College of Art, London. Her research centers on global histories of fashion and material culture, with a special interest in East Asia.

John T. Freeman is a native San Franciscan who taught in the public high school system for thirty-five years. His research interests include a special focus on the reconstruction of “New San Francisco” after the city’s devastating 1906 earthquake.

Laura Garcia-Vedrenne is an associate conservator of costume and textile arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Her research interests include textile artifacts and dyes as material culture, conservation of historical dress, and ethics within conservation.

Anne Evers Hitz is the author of Emporium Department Store (2014), San Francisco’s Ferry Building (2017), and Lost Department Stores of San Francisco (2020).

Susan B. Kaiser is a professor emerita at the University of California, Davis; editor of the journal Critical Studies in Fashion & Beauty; and author of The Social Psychology of Clothing (1997) and Fashion and Cultural Studies (2012 and, with Denise Nicole Green, 2021).

Talia Spielholz is a curatorial projects coordinator for costume and textile arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Ann Marguerite Tartsinis is a curator and scholar of American art, craft, and fashion. Her publications include An American Style: Global Sources for New York Textile and Fashion Design, 1915–1928 (2013) and Mondrian’s Dress: Yves Saint Laurent, Piet Mondrian, and Pop Art (with Nancy J. Troy, 2023).

Lewis Watts is a Bay Area–based photographer and archivist, and a professor emeritus of art at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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