Fashion Archive’s Global Reach

The Mount Mary University Digital Fashion Archive is a database that grants global access to previously hidden items in our Fashion Archive. Featuring many designers that previously were not well represented online, the Digital Archive includes supporting historical documents and photos with each collection to help tell the story.

360° digital photography technology allows garments and accessories to be viewed thoroughly from all sides. Zoom features allow viewers to enlarge and study each detail and embellishment.

It’s an extraordinary resource for the local, national and international audience. The ability to access the treasures within our collection at any time, in any place, establishes the Mount Mary University Fashion Archives as a prominent resource for educational, cultural and artistic inspiration.

CLIR Grant Award

The imaging of collections within the Archive is ongoing and began in 2021 when Mount Mary University was awarded a substantial grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to use 360° digital imaging to “expand the reach of its hidden Fashion Archive to inform scholarship on fashion design and the changing role of women throughout history.”

Curator Amanda Cacich and MMU fashion faculty select and feature collections that have significant relevance to our region, our culture, the history of our fashion program and The Fashion Archive itself. Collections by designer Valentina, garments from the Ebony Fashion Fair, collections by American designers Pauline Trigere, Irene, Hattie Carnegie, the wardrobe of chanteuse Hildegarde, and hats by Milwaukee born designer Frank Olive all have historic connections to Mount Mary’s fashion program and its founder Sr. Aloyse Hessburg, SSND.

History of the Fashion Archive

Mount Mary University’s Fashion Archive consists of hundreds of couture and ready-to-wear garments and accessories as well as fashion art originals and periodicals ranging from the 18th century to the present with a broad representation of 20th century fashions. Conceived 50 years ago by Sister Aloyse, the Archive has been called “one of the best regional costume collections in the country” by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mount Mary’s Fashion Archive is truly a rich educational tool and an important historical resource.

Maintained by the University’s Fashion Department, the Archive is the only such resource in the state of Wisconsin. Many items are one-of-a-kind museum quality pieces, appropriate for both exhibition and research. This vast array of artifacts from internationally renowned designers serves multiple purposes.


Mount Mary University’s Digital Fashion Archive engages the global community by offering scholarly access to so many important designers and collections. The technology supports close examination of historically relevant fashion items throughout the 20th and into the 21st century by highlighting various aspects of high-quality design and general clothing construction, fabric selection and embellishment to provide information and inspiration to students, instructors and scholars far beyond Mount Mary.

Arts and Cultural Resource

The Digital Fashion Archive is an important artistic and aesthetic resource. Members of the arts community can easily research and utilize the digital archive for information and inspiration to help them authentically incorporate fashion into their own work. Museums and other institutions can utilize the site to identify and request access to items to include in exhibitions of their own.

Items from the Fashion Archive have been part of exhibitions at The Milwaukee Art Museum, Ten Chimneys, The Museum of Wisconsin Art, the Pabst Mansion, the Wisconsin State Historical Society, and many other venues.