The history of MoMu’s collection started in 1930 when a local group of historians and collectors laid the foundation of a collection of decorative arts that would grow steadily over the next decades. Although costumes and textiles did not receive any special attention back then, a lace exhibition in 1967 unexpectedly turned out to be a great success. That success, together with a renewed interest in textiles in the 1970s, led to the acknowledgement of the costume collection as a separate collection and the focus shifted to collecting costume of Belgian origin.
From that moment on, the collection came to include unique objects: silhouettes from fashion house Valens from Brussels and atelier Roeis, artifacts of Belgium’s highly developed sewing industry; a lace collection of unique size and value, including lace by Charles Frederick Worth and 17th century table cloths; a collection of bead embroidery from the city of Lier and most recently, objects from Jacoba de Jonge’s collection of historical costume. 100 of these recently featured in the Living Fashion exhibition.
The present is also marked by an expanding collection of contemporary Belgian fashion design. Made world famous by the Antwerp Six in the 1980s, the success of Belgian fashion design has grown ever since. The collection of contemporary fashion was established under former director Linda Loppa.
Every Paris Fashion Week, MoMu visits the shows of Belgian designers to add new objects to the contemporary collection. MoMu also regularly receives gifts from designers and collectors. Objects are judged on technique, material, cut, the presence of the signature style of the designer, the image of the overall collection or narrative power about the wearer’s life, social position and time period.
A highlight in the collection is the long-term loan from Geert Bruloot, founder of Louis, the first Antwerp boutique for Belgian designers. The loan includes many objects by Belgian designers, but also an extensive collection of hats by British milliner Stephen Jones and an exclusive selection of designer shoes, from the store Coccodrillo, which he up to today manages together with his partner Eddy Michiels.
MoMu’s collection can be accessed via Open Fashion.