Apparel and Accessories Collection

From a turn-of the-century Edwardian bride to an Upper East Side socialite to grande dame of Washington, D.C., Hillwood founder Marjorie Merriweather Post presented her status, taste, and sophistication through her gracious sense of style.  During her life, she acquired and preserved many exquisite dresses, gowns, and accessories. Today, Hillwood’s costume collection houses more than 175 of her garments  and over 400 accessories, including shoes, hats, gloves, purses, and jewelry making it one of the most significant personal collections of 20th-century apparel.

Evening Ensemble; Mme Frances Inc; 1924-27; sheer silk chiffon, silk charmeuse, fox fur

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Necklace; De Sedles and Cartier; 1936-37; sapphires, diamonds, platinum

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Dress; Rosie Renault; 1935-37; wool, braided cotton cord, lamb's wool

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Pendant Brooch; Cartier; 1928; emeralds, diamonds, platinum, enamel

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Evening Dress; Eleanora Garnett; 1957; silk velvet, taffeta faille (dress), acetate, nylon net (petticoat)

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Fashion

Marjorie preserved her clothing quite carefully and in some cases, pinned handwritten notes to the fabric to document the occasion on which the dress was worn. Charting her development from a Midwestern youth to a confident businesswoman, philanthropist, and collector, Marjorie’s clothing tells her story through their rich fabrics, expert tailoring, and elegant designs.  Fashions recently displayed in the closets in the Post Bedroom suite have included a dashing Madame Frances evening ensemble from the debut of her daughter Eleanor in 1927, two Russian-style Day Dresses worn while in Moscow in 1937 and 1938, and a 1957 evening dress created for the ceremony in which she received the French Legion of Honor.

Jewelry

Marjorie approached all aspects of jewelry collecting just as she did her fine and decorative art collections—with an eye for objects that were exceptionally beautiful, skillfully crafted, and historically important.  Interested in more than just wearing exquisite jewels, Marjorie was a jewelry connoisseur.   Having remained largely intact, her collection, composed of masterpieces from Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Harry Winston, and boutique designers like Verdura, is a very important aspect of Hillwood’s holdings. This unique collection serves as a backdrop for viewing the scope of jewelry history.

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