We are thrilled to announce the next exhibition in the FIDM Museum History Gallery: Fashion Philanthropy: The Linda & Steven Plochocki Collection opens to the public on June 6, 2017. The exhibition will feature thematic objects donated and collected by the couple, and will explore their long-time love of fashion history and support of the FIDM Museum. The gallery design is one of our most extraordinary efforts to date thanks to Creative Director Peter Lam- we can't wait to share it with you!
While our Curators are busy preparing the exhibition, our Newsletter Editor Elisabeth Hinckley sat down with Linda Plochocki to learn more about her background in fashion history, her dedication to the arts, and why museum philanthropy is her passion.
Linda & Steven Plochocki
What was it that first motivated your generosity to the FIDM Museum?
What motivated my generosity is that the FIDM Museum is a great organization. It all started when I met Kevin Jones in early 2000 at a Costume Society of America Western Region lecture at Long Beach City College. He mentioned that he worked at the FIDM Museum, and since I had previously attended a couple of Hollywood exhibitions, I handed him my card, and told him that if he ever needed a volunteer, to call me. Lucky for me that he did, and I volunteered to de-install part of the Hollywood exhibition that year. I continued volunteering for several years, assisting with costume exhibition installations, and giving tours of the costume exhibitions. Those early years of volunteering, and my seventeen years of affiliation with the FIDM Museum, and as one of the founding members of the FIDM Museum Fashion Council, gave me an opportunity to see first-hand the important work that they do in preserving fashion.
I love the fact that the Museum is associated with an educational fashion institution, and the entire FIDM Museum staff is highly skilled and knowledgeable in their respective positions. Knowing that design students have access to the Museum's Study Collection is also important to me. I also think it is important to educate the public about the history of fashion, which is something that they do extremely well with their fashion exhibitions, and now with the most recent 25th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition. While it is always fun seeing the film costumes, my favorite part of this particular exhibition was reading the text panels that explained what is involved in installing the exhibition.
There are so many different kinds of philanthropy – what is it that drew you to fashion?
While I do have an interest in fashion history, it goes along with a strong interest in world history, textiles, and ethnic dress. My serious interest in fashion history probably started in the late 1980s. While we were still living in Michigan, I recall a family road trip to Niagra Falls, and since we were in upstate New York, I insisted that we take a slight detour to see a historic wedding gown exhibition in Amherst, New York.
How long have you had this interest in Fashion history?
My husband, Steve, and I donate to various cultural and educational organizations. Back in 1973, I studied couture at a very small private school in Southfield, Michigan. Having an appreciation for the techniques and fine workmanship of couture garments, I believe it is important to preserve these incredible, and often rare, garments. Having a personal collection of vintage garments, I truly appreciate the work that the FIDM Museum does, and I continue to learn from their vast knowledge of fashion history.
When did you become a benefactor of the FIDM MUSEUM?
My first financial donation was in 2008, a contribution put towards the purchase of the Jean Paul Gaultier pinstripe "gangster" suit. My first object donation was a straw boater hat dated 1895-1905 (used as an accessory in the FABULOUS! catalog and exhibition) in 2007.
Boater hat, 1895 - 1900
Straw with silk ribbon
Gift of Steven & Linda Plochocki
Prior to deciding whether or not to donate a piece to the Museum, is there criteria that you consider?
As far as deciding what to donate to the museum, I don't think there has been a single object that we have donated without first checking with Curator Kevin Jones to determine if it is something that the Museum would want for their collection. Having known Kevin for so many years, I have come to understand that the best objects do donate to the Museum are ones that are rare, in near perfect condition (so that the Museum doesn't have to spend a large sum of money on conservation), and/or have important historical provenance. Always ask the boss!
Do you have a favorite period of fashion?
Do I have a favorite period? Oh, that is a difficult question to answer, since I love aspects of various periods. While the excess frills and ruffles of the Victorian period are beautiful, if I had to pick one, it would be early 20th Century. The changing shapes and movement to simpler lines in dress, although still exquisite fabrics, would probably be my favorite. Most often, though, no matter the period, garments with beautiful embroidery seem to capture my heart.
How about a favorite donation to the Museum?
Probably the 1830s aerophane gown that was part of the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection. Close call, though, with the c.1878 Pingat wedding gown.
Label in Pingat wedding gown
Paris, France c. 1878
Gift of Steven & Linda Plochocki
Any final thoughts you’d like to share with us?
I am truly honored, and humbled, that the FIDM Museum is creating this exhibition to recognize our contributions over the years. While the Museum has many incredibly generous donors, it is my sincere hope that this exhibition inspires others to contribute to the FIDM Museum to support the great work that they do in collecting, documenting, and preserving historical fashion.