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Exhibitions

Desert Couture: Fashioning Two Centuries in the Southwest

Jun 22, 2023 - May 11, 2024

“Desert Couture: Fashioning Two Centuries in the Southwest” highlights the El Paso Museum of History’s diverse collection of textiles, accessories, and garments, which span from the antebellum period up to the mid-late 20th century.

The arrival of the railroad at the end of the 19th century transformed the Paso del Norte region into a commercial crossroads, leading to a boom in population, industry, and labor needs in what had previously been a small, predominantly Mexican town. Individuals from Europe, Syria, and Lebanon migrated to El Paso in search of opportunities and brought with them new styles, customs, and tastes. 

Department stores in Downtown El Paso like The Popular Dry Goods, The White House, and others formed a hub for imported fashions that advertised to a growing population of customers across the Southwest and northern Mexico. At these stores, people could shop the latest fashion trends from the United States and Europe, purchase ready-to-wear pieces for daily use, and commission custom-made clothing for special occasions. “Desert Couture” will highlight the merchants, designs, fabrication, and trends that defined fashion for generations of El Pasoans.

Part of the El Paso Museums & Cultural Affairs Family.