What Seattleites wear—past and present—reveals something captivating about the city. This and more will be unveiled in Seattle Style: Fashion/Function, a major new exhibit presented by Nordstrom, featuring garments and accessories from Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry’s (MOHAI) collection, on view May 4-October 14, 2019.

Evening gown with taffeta bow, about 1955, Irene, Los Angeles, maker Frederick & nelson, retailer. Gift of Mrs. C. Winkler (Photo Credit: MOHAI Collection)

No single style defines this region. Instead, when we look at the clothing made and worn here, enduring themes emerge: influences of the weather, ambition, a casual nature, and a spirit of people forging a new path.

This exciting exhibit highlights how elegance and practicality co-existed and converged in Seattle wardrobes, providing new insights into local clothing, ranging from couture to grunge aesthetics.  Alone, few of these ingredients are unique to Seattle. But, woven together, a distinct local story emerges.

“Our customers come from all parts of the community, and we have been in business for more than 118 years to help them feel good by expressing their personal style,” said Adrienne Hixon, Nordstrom Downtown Seattle Store Manager. “We’re thrilled to sponsor this exciting exhibition in our hometown, and to celebrate Seattle’s rich fashion history.”

Rarely-seen garments and accessories from MOHAI’s collection uncover the complex history of clothing in Seattle, including its innovations, its influence and its connections to the broader fashion world, as well as the continuing impact of local stores, companies, and designers.

Sidesaddle riding habit, 1907, Shogren, Portland, maker (Photo Credit: MOHAI Collection)

Curated by MOHAI’s Collections Specialist for Costumes and Textiles Clara Berg, the exhibit explores the sensibility of Seattle fashion, bringing together men’s and women’s fashions from the mid-1800s to today.

“Seattle has a rich history of clothing makers and style leaders,” said Berg. “Outdoor gear, casualwear, grunge—are connected to key parts of our history and had a national and international impact. There are many stories of high fashion in Seattle as well—people who wore it, stores that imported it, and designers who made it.”

Organized into four main sections, Seattle Style surveys key influences on local clothing. Nature and Place explores the relationship with our environment and garments designed for outdoor adventures. Growth and Aspiration tells stories about how clothing options expanded as Seattle became increasingly metropolitan. Northwest Casual takes a deeper look at the city’s affinity for casualwear and its leadership in the casual clothing industry. Innovators and Rule Breakers celebrates Seattle’s rebellious and creative designers and style leaders.

The exhibit is accompanied by a companion book, Seattle Style: Fashion/Function. Edited by Berg, with a forward by internationally known Seattle-based fashion designer Luly Yang, Seattle Style unveils the complex narrative of Seattle’s vibrant clothing scene.

Two-piece ball gown, 1951, house of Schiaparelli, Paris, maker, Ruth Schoenfeld Blethen Clayburgh, owner (Photo Credit: MOHAI Collection)

Additional generous support for Seattle Style: Fashion/Function has been provided by the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Laird Norton Wealth Management, Mike Repass, Eddie Bauer, ArtsFund and the Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff Endowment for the Decorative and Design Arts, 4Culture, and the MOHAI Exhibits Fund.

Up-to-date information about Seattle Style: Fashion/Function and related programming can be found in the MOHAI online calendar at mohai.org, on Facebook or by calling (206) 324-1126.

(Details are subject to change, and additional programs and events may be added):

Seattle Style: Fashion/Function Opening Day
Saturday, May 4, 10 am – 5 pm
Free for members; included with museum admission
Celebrate the opening of Seattle Style: Fashion/Function with a journey through Seattle’s vibrant and complex history of clothing. Tour the exhibit and see artifacts ranging from couture to grunge aesthetics. Go behind the scenes and view rarely seen garments and accessories from the mid-1800s to today.

Seattle Style Docent-Led Tours
Weekday afternoons and Saturdays through Oct. 14
MOHAI, Walker Gallery
See MOHAI’s website for group tour rates; reservations required
Dive deeper into the rich history of Seattle’s clothing makers and style leaders in these intimate 30-minute docent-led tours on weekday afternoons and Saturdays through the run of MOHAI’s Seattle Style exhibit.

Ethical Fashion: Rethinking the Future of an Industry
Wednesday, May 8, 7 pm
$5 MOHAI Members/$10 General Public
Much of the clothing available today is made unethically, worn briefly, and discarded in a landfill when trends change. How can we create fashionable clothing in a more ethical way while designing and developing eco-friendly, sustainable products? Join us for a panel conversation moderated by Sydney Mintle of Gossip & Glamour, featuring local innovators who are redesigning the future of fashion production.

(Photo Credit; MOHAI)

Behind the Seams: High Fashion Favorites
Saturday, May 11, 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00 pm
$10 MOHAI Members/$15 Students/$25 General Public Museum admission included
The special exhibit, Seattle Style: Fashion/Function features an exciting sample of glamourous garments from MOHAI’s collection, but there isn’t enough room to display all the stunning items owned by the museum. Join exhibit curator, Clara Berg, for an intimate viewing of her favorite garments that didn’t make it into the exhibit. In these one-hour presentations, viewers discover garments in detail and hear the stories that make them special. While at MOHAI, shop local artists and fashion designers at the Mother’s Day Pop Up Event at the museum’s MOHAI Mercantile. Enjoy mimosas and other treats while you shop. Special discount for MOHAI members!

(Re)Fashion: Clothing Repair Fair
Saturday, June 1
Demonstration 11 am – 2 pm; Workshop at 11 am and 2 pm
Demonstration Free for MOHAI Members (included with admission)
Workshop $30 General Public/$15 Members, Museum Admission Included
Refuse fast fashion and reclaim your clothes. Join our region’s top clothing saviors to learn how to mend and restore cherished articles from your wardrobe. Drop-in to a mending demonstration, or purchase tickets to a hands-on repair workshop. Visit our website for more details about the creative visible mending techniques offered on this day.

Behind the Seams: Fashioning the Ideal Body
Saturday, June 22
11:00 am; 12:00 pm; 2:00 pm
$10 MOHAI Members/$15 Students/$25 General Public Museum admission included
In every era, fashionable clothing is designed with an ideal body in mind. Join Seattle Style: Fashion/Function curator, Clara Berg, for a look at how these ever-shifting ideals were built into garments to shape the body and fool the eye. These intimate one-hour sessions allow viewers to discover garments in detail and hear the stories that make them special.

Cocktails & Clothing: Designing Sustainable Fashion
Wednesday, June 26, 7 pm
$30 Members/$50 General Public (21+ Over) Free cocktail included with ticket.
For one night, MOHAI hosts local designers leading the new wave of sustainable fashion in this interactive evening of cocktails and creativity. Witness the unique design process of Janelle Abbott and try your hand at fun and funky upcycling with Malia Peoples. Discover a range of sustainable garments at pop-up shops by Zakiya Cita of The Chayah Movement and Prairie Underground. Remember the evening with a live sketch created by fashion illustrator Galina Adzhigirey.

Multicolored high heels, 1950s, Nordstrom, Seattle, retailer. Gift of Clara Berg (Photo Credit: MOHAI Collection(

Seattle Style Month
September 1-30
September is Seattle Style Month! Celebrate MOHAI’s featured exhibit Seattle Style: Fashion/Function with a month-long, city-wide salute to Seattle’s passion for fashion and culture. Unique fashion-inspired events and programs will take place across the city! Check MOHAI’s website soon for details!

860 Terry Ave N
Seattle WA 98109
Ph. 206-324-1126


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