The Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection is located in the School of Design at the Nancy Cantor Warehouse and overseen by the fashion design program. This collection of historic dress was established at Syracuse University as the American Costume Collection in 1934 with historic garments from the Higgenbothem estate in Oneida, New York. The collection grew through donations from alumni and friends of the University. Leon Genet ’53 generously funded the care and exhibition of the collection in memory of his late wife Sue Ann Genet, a textile artist and sculptor, prompting the renaming of the collection in 1984.
The collection, which is comprised of over 5,000 women’s garments and accessories from the periods of 1820 to the present, is used for exhibition, research, and classroom examples. Garments in the collection are selected to be indicative of defined eras, produced by well-known designers, or worn by notable women. The collection highlights examples of fashion materials, garment production techniques, and the labor and craft required to produce high fashion. Publications featuring the collection include the Lawrence King books “Vintage Details” (Jeffrey Mayer and Basia Szkutnicka), “500 Patterns” (Jeffrey Mayer, Todd Conover, and Lauren Tagliaferro), and Threads Magazine.
Important groupings found within the collection include an impressive holding of the American Progressive Era (1890-1920) as well as large individual groupings of designs by 20th-century designers including Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, Mary McFadden, Adele Simpson, Bonnie Cashin, Emilio Pucci, and growing selections by Tracy Reese and Byron Lars.