Private costume collection of Mary Strauss now on display

4:50 PM, Oct 4, 2013   |    comments
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By Heidi Glaus

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - It is a collection fit for a queen, and worn by the actresses who played them.

"This is another gown of Elizabeth Taylor from Cleopatra," said Mary Strauss, the woman behind the collection.

They are exquisite gowns Strauss started collecting in 1983, costumes that represent Hollywood glamour through the ages.

"This is Susan Hayward's dress from 'With a Song in My Heart,'" said Strauss.

And although there is now a great appreciation for what goes into making one of these dresses, there wasn't even an Oscar for best costume design until the 21st Academy Awards.

"Nobody cared about costumes and actually the studios threw away the costumes," Strauss said.

She not only has costumes, three by the way worn by Elizabeth Taylor, but she has original sketches of dresses Josephine Baker and Ann-Margret wore.

"It feels to me like it's a world that's not here anymore," said Strauss.

There are also photographs and images of men and woman who defined Hollywood glamour in the '40s and '50s.

"Of course don't forget Whitney Houston," said Strauss.

And one piece that brings us back to more modern times.

"This was really Whitney's and it was on her Pacific Rim Tour that she wore the bustier," she said.

It is all sewn in to one impressive collection that is now on display at The Sheldon Art Galleries for the rest of us to see.

This is a part of a bigger arts experience known as the American Arts Experience, a 17 day event that takes place all over town in concert halls, theaters and outdoor spaces.  To learn more check out the related link.


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