SALEM, MA -- The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) announces its acquisition of the fashion collection of the late Marilyn Riseman. Assembled by a distinctive and decisive collector, more than 700 garments and accessories representing international avant-garde fashion of the last 40 years will enhance PEM's robust fashion initiative. Concurrently, this year's Boston Fashion Week (October 5 through 11) will be dedicated to Riseman to celebrate the contributions and lasting impact she made on the city's fashion landscape.

For decades, Riseman (1927-2014) was the undisputed grand dame of Boston's social and fashion scenes. Known for her signature bob, dramatic makeup, dynamic personality and propensity to sport black, white and red ensembles, Riseman was an avid collector of Japanese, European and American fashion designers. Items in her collection include defining works by designers such as Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Ohne Titel and, from Boston, Daniela Corte and Alan Bilzerian.

"From a historical perspective, this collection is the most important wardrobe assembled and worn by a Bostonian in the late 20th and early 21st centuries," says Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, PEM's James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes Chief Curator. "On an aesthetic level, it is sophisticated, bold and truly exciting. The Riseman Collection furthers the museum's ambitious fashion initiative and provides evermore opportunities to present and celebrate superlative works of global fashion."

This acquisition -- made possible by the generosity of Riseman's relatives: Marcy Prager, Daniel Prager and Joanna Prager Johnsen -- follows on the heels of PEM's recent blockbuster exhibitions Future Beauty: Avant-Garde Japanese Fashion, Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones and Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel. The museum expects to once again draw crowds with Native Fashion Now, slated to open in fall 2015, and Shoes: Pleasure and Pain, scheduled for 2016.

Designer and eponymous boutique owner Alan Bilzerian recalls, "Marilyn had a passion and keen eye for fashion. She, like Diana Vreeland, recognized and championed new ideas: avant-garde Japanese designers in the 80s, Alexander McQueen and more recently Rick Owens. Importantly, she always kept her own personal aesthetic. She was a great stimulant and driving force for the Boston fashion scene."

A Boston native, Riseman was a strong supporter of up-and-coming fashion designers in the area, attending openings, runway shows and even serving as creative muse for some. In the 1960s Riseman combined her fashion and business acumen to operate Apogee -- a boutique that carried edgy fashions at its flagship Newbury Street location as well as other locations across the country for nearly two decades.

"Marilyn left an indelible mark on everyone she met. Her singular style, acerbic wit and indomitable spirit made her the life of the party and nothing less than a national treasure. Her love of fashion was contagious and her discerning eye for collecting was instructive," says Jay Calderin, founder and executive director of Boston Fashion Week. Designers at this year's Boston Fashion Week will keep one front-row seat open as a tribute to Riseman's lifetime commitment to the art of fashion and her tireless support of the creative community.

PHOTO CREDIT: John Tlumacki, The Boston Globe via Getty Images, 2012.

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is one of the oldest and fastest growing museums in North America. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. Founded in 1799, the museum's collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time -- including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, as well as Native American, Oceanic and African art. PEM's campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities, performance spaces and historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House, a 200?year?old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm, and the third Thursday of every month until 9 pm. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $18; seniors $15; students $10. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866?745?1876 or visit

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