1911 Abito femminile da sera
18th century, 19th century, 20th century, digital collections of extant garments

Europeana Fashion: A New Cross-Museum Database

Have you heard about Europeana Fashion yet? It’s an attempt to the take the fashion-related collections from a number of European museums and put them into one big database. Sounds cool right? Well it is!

The up side is that there are some museum collections in there that I hadn’t previously seen online before, and it’s a one-stop-shop to search them.

The down side is that each museum is using their own terminology to describe items, in their own language, so you have to search it using not just English terms but also Italian, French, Swedish, Greek, and more. Furthermore, there’s no standardization of terms — something can be a “dress” or a “costume” or an “ensemble,” etc. And, most importantly to me, there’s NO way to search by date, other than a keyword search — so “18th century” will find you results where the database has listed the date that way (and not “1700s” or “1759” or in another language).

That being said, I was excited to find that the costume collections of the Palazzo Pitti, which I hadn’t seen online previously, are in this collection, AND their images are relatively high resolution. I did some poking around specifically in their collection, although even I couldn’t get through all of it. Here are some highlights of what I found:

(Note: since this is an Italian museum, their descriptions are in Italian)

1780  Abito femminile

A robe à la piemontaise! Abito femminile 1780

1911 Abito femminile da sera

LOVE the gold and blue, and always interesting to see inside of a garment. Abito femminile da sera, 1911

1913  Abito femminile da sera

THAT’S BEAD EMBROIDERY. Abito femminile da sera 1913

1925  Abito femminile

Built in champagne-bottle pockets? Abito femminile, 1925

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  • Reply Tracey Walker February 26, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Wow! One of the only things I didn’t like about retiring from the UCSC library is losing access to so many databases. I’m glad to see that there are some still out there for free. This one is amazing.

  • Reply Linda February 26, 2015 at 7:56 pm


    This is amazing….I wish we could Pin these.

    I don’t speak Italian even though my maternal grandfather was from Italy. I’m not able to translate the descriptions :( , but can help with the titles which are fairly self explanatory especially for those of you who study and reproduce historical dress.
    Here we go…

    obviously “femminille” is female or woman
    abito – dress

    1. corpetto – waistcoat, vest
    2. Robe a la Anglaise you already know
    3. ” Piemontaise ”
    4. di gala – the gala, what it means to us, is what it means to them 19th century
    5. sposa – bride Wedding Dress 1824
    6. da ballo – the ball Ball Gown “due pezzi” two pieces 1845
    7. da sposa – bride Wedding Dress 1862
    8. ricevimento – receipt -woman’s dress per receipt – I don’t know if this is referring to the cost of the gown, which would be interesting to know, or if it means the museum’s catalog description? 1865
    9. cerimonia – formal, ceremony, ” tre pezzi” three pieces 1867
    10. Arlecchino – Harlequin, giovanetta – young girl c.1870 (postcard)
    11. passeggio – passage, promenade, walk Walking Dress 1878-80
    12. princesse – Princess style Gown 1880-5
    13. da ballo in tre pezzi – Ball Gown in three pieces 1902
    14. tailleur – tailored, suit Riding Costume 1908
    15. odalisca – woman in Harem Harem Costume 1911
    16. sera – evening Evening Dress 1911
    17. ” ” ” ” 1913
    18. Woman’s Dress 1925

    It’s disappointing for me not to be able to translate the descriptions. Perhaps some of your followers who speak Italian would be happy to translate them.

    Thanks so much for this information. I love to go window shopping!


  • Reply Sabine February 27, 2015 at 1:57 am

    Thanks for sharing! Browsing it by ‘year’ has revealed a lot of interesting new items.

  • Reply Molly February 27, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    So cool! And swooooon over pretty much every one of those dresses.

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