North Texas Daily

Texas Fashion Collection: a high-fashion history display

Texas Fashion Collection: a high-fashion history display

September 24
02:55 2015

Anjulie Van Sickle | Staff Writer


A rosy-cheeked curator cheerily greets each newcomer, gesturing to the gallery room that holds rack after rack of history.

“Welcome to the collection!” he says.

Edward Hoyenski walks through the workroom, where a woman sits at a desk archiving a pair of patched blue jeans. Pushing open another door, he enters the heart of the Texas Fashion Collection.


Manager of the Texas Fashion Collection Edward Hoyenski shows off one of his favorite pieces of the collection on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Located in a warehouse-type room in the Welch Street Complex at UNT, the collection holds 20,000 garments. Cherry-picked from various time periods and locations, the items range anywhere from the early 1800s to the present.

An entire wall is dedicated to 1,000 pairs of shoes and hats. A 1,000-year-old textile fragment from Central America sits in a display drawer. Wedding dresses from the 1840s, flapper dresses from the 1920s and a golden headdress fill the small space.

“These are irreplaceable, historical and artistic objects,” Hoyenski said, gesturing to the rows and rows of clothing. “Some of these pieces are the only ones in existence. Other ones were worn by famous people who have passed away.”

The Texas Fashion Collection has been housed at UNT since 1972, but the idea of a Texas collection began with fashion forerunners Stanley and Edward Marcus in 1938.

Dallas has been a forerunner in Texas fashion since its beginning. It was the home of the first Neiman Marcus. During the late ‘60s, the Dallas Fashion Group, a group of fashion lovers began showing historical clothing items. They partnered with the Neiman Marcus Collection in 1969.

Eventually the collection was moved to UNT and renamed the Texas Fashion Collection in 1972.

“I tend to think if you can’t see history and culture in here, then you’re not looking,” Hoyenski said.

The collection is open to tours of students, faculty, staff and anyone else interested in history told through fashion.

Fibers professor Lesli Robertson takes all her design classes on a tour of the collection at least once per semester.

“They’re seeing things that would otherwise be in museum-quality textiles and pieces,” she said. “It’s high-quality, and the students can see things they would normally [only] see in books.”

Erika Falk, an intern with the collection since May, has helped with the archival process as well as the collection’s several exhibit projects.

“The collection is full of history,” she said. “I love being able to work with so many historical garments.”


Floral hats and accessories are also a part of the Texas Fashion Collection located on Welch Street. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

The collection has had several exhibitions showcasing decades of history. Its current “Art Meets Fashion” exhibition is being shown at NorthPark Center.

Hoyenski has been volunteering with the collection for about 20 years and was hired as a full-time employee about four years ago. He worked for the UNT Library at the time and was hired at the collection to work on digitalization.

“We’ve got more than 2,000 of the pieces photographed and catalogued in the database,” he said, gesturing to the table topped with shiny hats and shoes.

The two-person staff, along with 15 volunteers, has 18,000 more items to process, catalogue and photograph before the digitalization project can be complete.

Information science senior Page Williams just started volunteering with the collection.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work with things [able to be archived], because that’s what I want to do when I finish school,” she said.

Even though the collection doesn’t have the best location for displays or exhibitions, the staff and volunteers want to be able to show how people lived through what they wore.

“Open your mind,” Hoyenski said. “The collections we have here are history.”

Mannequins display part of the collection at the Welch Street Complex. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

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