Wow Factor: 150 Years of Collecting Bold Looks

Although it’s no New York City, Cleveland never fails to impress me with its fashion roots. This past summer I had the opportunity of viewing an incredible exhibit at my town’s local history museum entitled Wow Factor: 150 Years of Collecting Bold Looks. The exhibit displayed various staple pieces, all of which were worn in the city of Cleveland at some point in time.

Over 150 years of clothing was organized into four sections: Romance, Confidence, Whimsy, and Effervescence. The exhibit celebrated fashion in aspects of both past and present, instilling a sense of awe and wonder amongst spectators. Below are some of the most memorable pieces displayed, including a few of my favorites.

After walking through the entire exhibit, Wow Factor reminded me, yet again, that fashion truly is amazing. Whether looking at staple pieces from the past or the newest designs walking down the runway at Fashion Week, the industry is constantly changing and it’s a change in which I plan to take part.

Although it may not be my first choice in a prom dress, this Oscar de la Renta evening gown is a piece worth recognizing. This gown was worn in 1967 to one of the theatre openings in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. The detail and beaded work around the neckline and cuffs of the dress is what truly makes it worth recognizing.


This ostrich feathered dress may not be my style, but it was easily the most outgoing piece within the exhibit. The designer, George Halley, was born in Ohio and was well known for his love of whimsy and drama. This type of dress would fall in the realm of a dramatic fashion personality with its vibrant blue color and heavy usage of feathers.


This beautiful dress was designed by Mariano Fortuny in 1930. Fortuny was known for creating pleated dresses inspired by ancient forms. This ensemble is made from silk and glass beads. The gown appears very light and simple, yet still very complex which is what I love about it.


My personal favorite is this purple, sequin stitched lace dress. The evening dress was worn in 1945, a time in which hoods were quite fashionable on eveningwear. The dress is subtle and sophisticated while giving off a mysterious vibe. I would want to get to know a little bit more about the lady inside the hooded dress.


Worn in 1929, the owner of this dress wore it to her daughter’s wedding and almost outshined the bride. With its delicate silk, net beading, it comes as no surprise to me that that was the case. The straight silhouette of the dress is an example of the flapper style that was popular throughout the roaring twenties.


Briana Harrison, '20

Born and raised in Cleveland and proud of it. Lover of dance, music, and good times. Some people find it concerning the number of shoes I have, but I call it impressive.