Arts and Crafts museum of Croatia

At the heart of the European Union is the youngest member of the Union, Croatia. In its capital there is a specialized Museum of Arts and Crafts. A special collection of the museum consists of a collection of clothes, a collection of women’s interwar clothes: an example of the musealization of art déco fashion.

The Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb owns a relatively rich collection of women’s clothing and fashion accessories from the time between the two world wars. Although most of the items are of foreign provenance (Austria, Italy, France), a significant number of items are represented, mostly made in Zagreb’s tailoring and shoemaking trades.

Within the textile collection of the Museum of Arts and Crafts a significant place is the art déco fashion collection, which with a little more than 400 copies of women’s clothing fashion accessories documents all the fashion turmoil that occurred from the early twenties until the late thirties of the XX century. Items – day and evening dresses, underwear, swimwear, coats, furs, scarves, shawls, hats, caps, shoes, boots, handbags, travel accessories, perfume bottles and powders were purchased mostly during the 1960s. The largest number of objects is of Austrian, Viennese provenance (Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for a whole millennium); followed by items made in Croatia, mostly in Zagreb; and items from France, most often Paris, and Italy. The items within that closed collection date from

1900 to 1935 and on them one can explore and see the social status and fashion changes. For the period of art déco, a handbag made of beads that form multicolored geometric motifs is also typical. Her dresses can be traced to changes in skirt length, cut and material – from dresses to mid-leaf from the early twenties, through knee-length dresses from the mid-twenties, and dresses with longer inserts from the late decade, to oblique dresses characteristic of the first mid-thirties and long dresses from the mid-thirties. It is interesting that there is only one evening, dance dress in the collection, unique precisely because it shows the alterations that turned it from a dress with a flat tubular cut, typical around 1925, by adding asymmetrical inserts to the dress they wore. Interestingly, there is only one evening, dance dress in the collection, unique precisely because it shows the alterations that transformed it from a dress with a flat tubular cut, typical of the time around 1925, by adding asymmetrical inserts to the dress around 1927. A significant segment of the collection is underwear, which is mainly made of cotton and linen fabrics with appliqued lace and decorated with white embroidery.

Textiles, i.e. clothing, accompany people from birth to death and precisely because it is an ubiquitous part of their lives, they create a distinctly emotional relationship with it and it determines their belonging to a particular community. Clothing items in the collections are both carriers of private and public significance – they live two lives simultaneously. In the “first life”, clothing was part of the former owners, it broadcast their messages, it was an active participant in a time, society and culture.