BOSTON, MA.- The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA)
, announced the acquisition of more than 100 fashions and the complete archives of legendary American fashion designer Arnold Scaasi. The collection features evening ensembles, ball gowns, cocktail dresses, day suits, and coats that are being given to the MFA by the designer. It includes the infamous black tulle sequined “see-through” pants ensemble worn by Barbra Streisand to accept her 1969 Academy Award for Funny Girl. In addition, the Museum is purchasing the complete assemblage of design drawings from his more than 500 collections with funds donated by Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, Eminent Benefactors of the MFA. The Museum is also purchasing the designer’s archive, which includes more than half a century of scrapbooks and videotapes containing photographs and press clippings from 1955 to the present, with funds donated by supporters of the Textile and Fashion Arts Department at the MFA. The acquisition represents the first time the Museum has secured a major collection encompassing drawings and costumes of a single designer. This elevates the Museum’s 20th-century textile and fashion holdings, making the MFA a major resource for the study of modern fashion and the American fashion industry.
Highlights from the acquisition include clothing worn by Streisand in the film, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, the original prototype of Barbara Bush’s sapphire velvet and satin inaugural gown, and a coat made of antique paisley shawls lined in chinchilla for artist Louise Nevelson. Also included is a white dotted net ruffled evening dress worn by Joan Rivers.
“I am delighted that the MFA, one of the pre-eminent art museums in the United States, becomes the repository of my work, especially in light of the extraordinary depth of the museum’s collection of fashion arts,” said Scaasi. “I have been fortunate to design clothes for some of the world’s most celebrated and charismatic women. My collections and archival materials document my pursuit of innovative design and will further the study of 20th-century fashion for generations to come.”
“This does not mean that I am retiring, simply that my past archives are in one place where they will be put to good use professionally, explains Scaasi. I continue my couture made to order designs for private clients at my 52nd Street salon just east of 5th Avenue and distribute my costume jewelry collections on the Home Shopping Networks.”
Scaasi is one of America’s leading couture designers whose body of work in the mid 20th-century reflected extraordinary creativity. Known for exquisite craftsmanship, each item took approximately 120 working hours involving at least three different craftsmen to complete. His creations, often adorned with intricate beading, feathers, or fine embroidery, were unique at the time they were created.