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Lipperheide Costume Library

Both an international research library and the world’s largest museum collection of graphic works on the history of clothing and fashion, the Lipperheide Costume Library constitutes a milestone for fashion research.

The Lipperheide Costume Library is part of the Kunstbibliothek, founded in Berlin in 1868. Its collection comprises now more than 40,000 books and magazines, from the sixteenth century to the present day, as well as paintings, manuscripts, over 100,000 drawings, prints and photographs. It encompasses literature on fashion from all over the world and of different eras, including magazines from the 18th century to today. In addition, the collection comprehends original prints and illustrations, as well as reproductions of artworks important to the study of costumes.

Plate from 'Illustrirte Frauenzeitung', 1894. Courtesy Anna Russ, Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, CC-BY-NC-SA.

The Library was named Lipperheide Costume Library in 2006, after the Berlin publishers Franz and Frida Lipperheide, who donated their private collection to the Royal Museums in Berlin in 1899.

Franz founded his publishing house ‘Franz Lipperheide’ in 1865. A trained bookseller, he had previously worked for a fashion publisher that issued, among others, the magazine ‘Der Bazar’. His publishing house printed the magazine ‘Modenwelt’, focused on women’s fashion, which had great success and was eventually even distributed abroad. His wife Frida later undertook the direction of the magazine, which in 1974 included also news about entertainment, and was renamed ‘Illustrirte Frauenzeitung’.

'Les Coulisses de l'Opéra - Le Corps des Ingénus', coloured lithograph created by Joseph Bettanier, ca 1860. Courtesy Anna Russ, Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, CC-BY-NC-SA.

To respect the wishes of its founders, the collection – originally established as an independent curatorial department within the Kunstbibliothek – has been preserved and made accessible to the public. It is possible to browse part of it on Europeana Fashion portal: this selection of 8000 objects includes photographs, drawings, illustrations and patterns from the 16th to the 20th century, in addition to the precious plates of the ‘Illustrirte Frauenzeitung’.

Visit the Europeana Fashion portal to find the beautiful pictures of the Lipperheide Costume Library and the Kunstbibliothek and discover this fantastic collection of paper fashion.

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