“Effortless, exuberant, elegant,” are the three words Cameron Silver uses to describe the quintessential Palm Beach style that is now on full display at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum. “Endless Summer: Palm Beach Resort Wear,” in partnership with The Palm Beaches, is the newest exhibit that demonstrates the impact that Palm Beach has had in fashion history over the last 129 years. As local historian, author and board member of Discover the Palm Beaches Rick Rose further states, Palm Beach “became an important trendsetting market for resort wear in the American market.”
“As Americans began to travel for leisure at the beginning of the last century, as the preeminent winter seaside resort destination in the country, the styles created for the well-heeled visitors to Palm Beach became the most coveted, desired styles and brands in the country,” says Rose.
As guest curator for the exhibit, Cameron Silver, also known as the “King of Vintage,” searched for the pieces to tell the story—beginning with the Museum’s collection. In addition, a sizable number of artifacts are on loan from many private collections. “Endless Summer,” featuring more than 85 pieces, is a kaleidoscope of beauty, color, and variety. Of course, a nod to Lilly Pulitzer is a must, but we see pieces from Gucci, Chanel, Valentino, Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as the greats of the past including Bill Blass, Halston, James Galanos and Saint Laurent to name a few. “The sheer breadth of top designers and brands which have been active here and/or became established in the Palm Beach market is striking and, in many ways, unparalleled for a community this size,” says Rose.
An exhibit on Palm Beach fashion would not be complete without a tribute to Martha Phillips, a force in retail luxury fashion who brought leading couture and emerging designers to Martha’s Boutique on Worth Avenue. Through her store, Lynn Manulis created a lasting legacy of “having young designers of the 1990s showcased with the superstars of fashion,” says her son, Dr. Andrew Burnstine, former Executive Vice President of Martha Inc. and Lynn University Associate Professor of Fashion Marketing and Management. The life-size photo of Manulis with her group of young designers evokes the energy of collaboration and excitement of that era.
“Palm Beach style stands out for its unique combination of classic elegance and tropical flair,” says Dr. Burnstine. “The fashion in Palm Beach often reflects a resort lifestyle with an emphasis on high-quality materials and a polished appearance, creating a distinctive blend of timeless and contemporary elements that capture the essence of this coastal destination.”
Last week’s ultra VIP opening reception set the tone on a high note. Now on view until May 25, 2024, this special exhibit is sure to see a record number of attendees. As Silver notes, “Palm Beach has taught the world how to dress with flair while on vacation mode, surrounded by the sun, palms and sand.”
For more information on “Endless Summer: Palm Beach Resort Wear” and to learn more about the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum, visit pbchistory.org.
Tickets are $10 for non-members, Free for children and Historical Society members
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