Exhibition \\ Made It

Section 1: Breaking In

The clothing trade of the 18th and 19th centuries catered to the royal courts and fashion centers of Europe and was strictly divided along gender lines. Men envisioned and regulated the tightly structured guilds, or associations that oversaw their profession, by dictating what could be made and by whom. Male tailors bore the responsibility for cutting textiles—the most expensive part of an ensemble—while women served in crucial yet subservient roles as seamstresses.

Mantua, about 1760–65, Kunstmuseum Den Haag, 0555918. Courtesy of Kunstmuseum Den Haag.

Mantua, about 1760–65, Kunstmuseum Den Haag, 0555918. Courtesy of Kunstmuseum Den Haag.


That is until 1675, when a few bold women led the movement to form their own guilds. These exceptional leaders broke into a hostile system— challenging the establishment and pushing for new regulations and styles of dress. Today, we know their courage and determination laid the foundation for industry advancement.

Section 2: Gaining Momentum

Section 3: Seismic Shifts

Section 4: Making Choices

Section 5: Designing for Change

Made It: The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion