When T and I travel, we try to plan a few fun things for each trip but leave much of our experience to serendipity. Since I’m a planner, I generally try to find a few interesting neighborhoods and focus our wanderings there.
While we were doing our touring in Chile, I found out that not only was there a museum of fashion (Museo de la Moda) in Santiago, but that they were featuring an exhibition I had been dying to see. I am a huge fan of the show and had been lamenting that I had missed the chance to see the huge Mad Men exhibition in NYC at the Museum of the Moving Image–so this was the perfect option to see some of the fashions I had loved on the show. Janie Bryant, the show’s costumer, is one of the most talented people I can think of. If you’d like to go down a really long, but really interesting rabbit hole, check out Tom & Lorenzo’s episode-by-episode costuming recaps of the series. Almost every article of clothing is chosen for a reason–not just because it’s vintage and looks pretty, but because it tells part of the story of the person wearing it.
Needless to say, we made sure we hopped a cab to the Vitacura neighborhood in Santiago. Set back from the road, behind an almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fence, is a beautiful house inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs housing a gorgeous collection of textiles.
El Museo de la Moda is the former home of Chilean textile impresario Jorge Yarur Banna. His entire family seemed to be textile collectors, and thus the museum has a wide-ranging and interesting collection. They have a very extensive soccer textile collection, as well as some other famous garments–including garments worn by Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, Amy Winehouse, and others.
In addition, the ladies of the Banna family of the 1960s seemed to have a penchant for buying American fashion magazines (namely, Vogue) and ordering the entire outfit seen on the cover. It was fascinating seeing an entire fashion cover outfit up close and personal.
I was quite impressed with the vintage makeup and personal care items the museum displays. It’s not often that a museum has vintage lipsticks, shavers, and other “daily use” items, since it’s so common for them to be used and tossed afterwards–but Museo de la Moda had a full case of both men’s and women’s products–down to lip blotting papers. The cases allowed for up close investigation of each item, which was really nice.
The obvious spotlight of the experience, though, was the Mad Men exhibition that extended throughout most of the museum. Since the show used so many different costumes during production, this was clearly not the one and only set of Mad Men costumes on display in the world–but there were still some fairly great examples from the show.
Accompanying most of the displays were plaques with basic information, as well as a retro-style television screen showing the scenes in which the clothes featured to illustrate how the clothes actually moved.
The Museo de la Moda couldn’t have been a better place for the exhibition–with the FLW mid-century aesthetic already in play, the clothes felt right at home, whether in the museum’s library or in the old, enclosed carport next to a shiny Cadillac.
The Museo de la Moda often rotates their collection. They have a room with a video on repeat showing how they preserve the delicate textiles and why they do what they do. As a museum studies nerd, it was incredibly interesting to see how committed they are to ensuring that not only can people view their collection, but also that it’s taken care of to the best of their abilities.
After taking lots of photos, talking lots about Mad Men and fashion history, and enjoying the beautiful outdoor patio, we ended our visit at the cozy museum cafe. I ended up purchasing the two museum catalogs for sale–a great way to see a lot of the collection without it even being on display.
All in all, I highly recommend a visit to Museo de la Moda. The Vitacura neighborhood was beautiful, and we took a long walk from there to a HUGE mall (we are pretty sure it was Alto Los Condes) in the Los Condes neighborhood. This was the swankiest mall we’d ever seen in South America–or possibly in North America, for that matter! Filled with three floors of the same stores you’d see at Pentagon City or King of Prussia, it almost felt like we were back in the US for a while!
We ended our day with a movie at the mall’s Hoyts Cine. I was convinced that T would love “The Martian,” and it did not disappoint. We saw it in IMAX 4D, which was an interesting experience. Not only was the film in IMAX, but the seats moved and there were blasts of hot and cold air and spritzes of water. Although it was an interesting experience, we found the air blowers in particular to take away from the overall experience due to their noise at start up and cool down.
Museo de la Moda is in the Vitacura neighborhood of Santiago. It seems to close in between exhibitions, so make sure to check if it’s open before you venture.
If you find yourself long-term in South America and find yourself missing high-end, American-style shopping, we couldn’t help but recommend the malls in Los Condes. Great for wandering on a blistering hot or rainy day and the movie theater was spectacular.