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Style council! Brooklyn Museum opens its closet with fashion exhibition

Dior. Schiaparelli. Lanvin.

You’re more likely to see such names in fashion magazines, but next month, they’ll be on the walls of the Brooklyn Museum — when the borough’s pre-eminent art gallery throws open its closet for the first large-scale exhibition from its enormous fashion collection in 20 years.

“American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection” opens on May 7 and will feature 85 pieces by renowned French, Italian and American designers including Elisa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Arnold Scaasi and Christian Dior — “tracing the evolution of fashion in American from its 19th-century European beginnings through the late-20th century,” Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold Lehman said.

One highlight is Schiaparelli’s famous “Insect Necklace” — a collaboration with Surrealist Salvador Dali that comprises a chain of metallic bugs that look like they’re crawling on the neck of the wearer. It’s considered one of the most important works in a collection that also includes slim evening dresses by Charles James, gold silk lounging pajamas by Norman Norell and jaunty sun hats by Sally Victor.

It’s centuries of fashion for just the price of the museum’s suggested admission fee. Just don’t ask to try anything on.

“American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection” at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Crown Heights, (718) 638-5000], May 7–Aug. 1. Admission $10. For info, visit

— Elizabeth Dana

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