Chicago's surprising fashion history is on elegant display at Chicago History Museum's landmark "Making Mainbocher" exhibit. Heralded by Vogue magazine as "the most important American designer that you've never heard of," Mainbocher — and his significant fashion influence — is finally receiving a much-deserved spotlight.


Exhibit runs until August 20, 2017 

Mainbocher's impeccable design construction and quiet elegance is showcased with an array of dresses, ball-gowns and military uniforms that he designed during his 41-year career. Famous for designing the Duchess of Windsor's wedding gown as well as decking out such early 20th century socialites as Babe Paley, CZ Guest, Gloria Vanderbilt and Diana Vreeland, Mainbocher was the first American to open a Paris couture house in 1930.

"Making Mainbocher" explores the designer's roots on Chicago's West Side, as well as his time as an illustrator and editor. The interactive show also features recordings, photos and fabric swatches to illustrate the intricacy of Mainbocher's designs.

Making Mainbocher at Chicago History MuseumMaking Mainbocher at Chicago History Museum

The first American couturier, he was the first to create the strapless dress, the bolero jacket and the hourglass silhouette later made famous by Dior.  

"Making Mainbocher" runs through August, and the exhibit is included in the Chicago History Museum general admission fee.


Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 606014
(312) 642-4600

  • Mon, Wed, Thur, Fri & Sat, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
  • Tues, 9:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
  • Sun, Noon–5p.m.