Costumes, Textile and Carnival Collection
The Louisiana State Museum has one of the largest and finest costume and textile collections in the United States. Overall the museum’s collection ranges from late 18th century to the present with the majority of objects having a Louisiana provenance. Of the approximately 15,000 objects in the collection, one third is the costumes and accessories collection, one third is the textile collection, and one third is the Carnival collection.
Furniture and Household Textiles
Ladies Costumes and Accessories
There are approximately 10,000 + objects in this category ranging from the late eighteenth century to the present day. Collection items are handmade by couturiers, dressmakers, artisans, and homemakers or mass produced. Some 60 international, national and regional couturiers and dressmakers are represented in the collection including House of Worth, Dior, Callot Soeurs, Geoffrey Beene, Mme. Olympe, Mme. Besserat, Mrs. Dowty, and Mignon Faget to name a few. Most are formal, costly, special occasion dresses. The collection includes habits from two religious orders, costumes owned by exotic dancers, debutante gowns, and wedding gowns.
Outergarments include capes, cloaks, coats, and shawls made with fine fabrics and with interesting construction and ornamental details, many by known designers.
Intimate apparel such as nightgowns, underwear and supportive wear exhibit an interesting range of changing styles, forms and function over time. They are made of fine fabrics using intricate construction details and frequently very elaborate decorative needle and lace work.
Accessories include jewelry, gloves, parasols, shoes, hats, hat pins, tignons, and purses. Collections of special note include mourning jewelry, fans (365), and beaded hand bags.
Menswear items date from early 19th century to the present. While the collection includes a few suits, coats, shirts, and shoes, the majority of items are formal evening evening wear from mid-nineteenth century through the present. The accessory collection for men includes ties, collars, cuff links, match safes, and gloves. There is a small but very nice collection of walking sticks, including one which conceals a sword. There are a few informal/sporting items including a wind breaker worn by noted Louisiana photographer Fonville Winan.
The State Museum has a distinguished and extremely valuable collection of military uniforms worn by the men and women of Louisiana. The museum has artifacts from every conflict Louisianians have engaged in since The Louisiana Purchase. The earliest of these are the War of 1812 uniforms worn by Philogene Favrot and William Hamilton. The collection also has General Taylor’s felt sombrero and white silk sword sash from the Mexican War. Our collection of Civil War items is extensive and in very good condition. There are also uniforms and related artifacts from the Spanish American War, WWI, and WWII uniforms. The WWII era includes General Claire Chennault’s uniform. There are also several military headcoverings including two French style shakkos possibly from the war of 1812, a Mexican War era shakko, and a sailor’s "liberty" flat cap from the USS Maine.
There is a small but excellent collection of women’s uniforms, both civil and military, from WWI forward which include Red Cross, YWCA, Army, and Navy uniforms. The collection also has uniforms worn by both US allies and enemies including a WWII jacket worn by Field Marshall Keitel, Supreme Commander of German Forces and a set of Japanese utilities.
In addition to military and war related uniforms, the collection also contains New Orleans firefighter uniforms and helmets, two New Orleans police uniforms, two Jesuit High School uniforms, and a baseball uniform.
Religious and Ceremonial Artifacts
The collection contains a few items associated with Catholic religious services, Jewish religious services, Catholic religious orders, the Knights of Columbus, and the Masons
Infants and Children’s Clothing
Although dates of these artifacts range from early 19th century to mid-20th century, the majority of this collection of almost 700 pieces was made in the late 19th and early 20th century. Artifacts include dresses, suits, robes, coats, shirts, blouses, pinafores, bibs, chemises, underskirts, underdresses, drawers, pajamas, nightgowns, caps, bonnets, and shoes. Reflecting the Catholic heritage of this state, there are 32 christening gowns dating from 1840 to 1912. Two are attributed as having been made by Ursuline Nuns.
The Louisiana State Museum has a distinguished and extremely valuable collection of over 200 military and ceremonial banners.
A collection of 157 souvenirs in the form of cloth badges, streamers, handkerchiefs, ribbons, banners, programs, scarfs, cushions, cases, fabric samples, and aprons. Each item commemorates a political figure, a cause, a social group, a momentous event or occasion, and expositions. This collection includes samples of fabric associated with life of Andrew Jackson, a handkerchief used by Napoleon, body banners for woman’s suffrage, a police badge, an apron from the Cotton Exposition 1884-1885, political handkerchiefs from the political campaigns of Grover Cleveland and Hale Boggs, and a badge commemorating Lafayette’s visit in 1825.
The museum has an extensive collection of 19th century French fashion plates from French, German, English, and American journals.
The costume and textile reference materials includes examples of nineteenth century periodicals: La Belle Asemblee, Godey’s Ladies Book, Peterson’s, and The Delineator. There are also a small number of early 20th century magazines such as Vogue and Harpers Bazaar.
Includes patterns from late 19th century to 1985 for various clothing items particularly for women. There are also patterns for needlework, berlin work, crochet, embroidery. The collection has two needlework "sampler" books.
This collection includes costumes, jewelry, favors, paper invitations, paper programs and illustrations (sketches, posters, foldouts, etc.) of the New Orleans carnival season.