Collector’s passion displayed in fashion exhibit

Julia Ferrell

On her frequent vacations to Hollywood, Anne Zimmerman went looking for one thing: clothes.

With a background in the fashion industry, Zimmerman found herself with a large collection of Chanel copy, Rudi Gernreich and Ralph Lauren, all ranging from the 1940s to the 1980s.

While living in different areas — such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Des Moines — Zimmerman collected many high-fashion and rare pieces, occasionally bringing along her husband, Kent. Anne Zimmerman’s passion for clothing continued until her death from cancer in 2007.

One year later, Kent Zimmerman donated the collection to Iowa State. Anne’s collection was accepted gratefully and is now featured as its own Morrill Hall exhibit.

After a private opening last Friday, “The Story of a Collector: Anne Zimmerman” is currently being displayed in the Mary Alice Gallery, with a public reception at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Morrill Hall. The collection will be open through April 19. The exhibit includes pieces varying from a Courreges dress from the mid-’60s to a rare hat made by a Chicago company in the ’40s.

Jean Parsons, associate professor of apparel, educational studies and hospitality management, acted as co-curator for the exhibit.

“We usually plan our exhibits a few years out, but decided this one would be exciting to do and would be of interest to students, scholars and to the Iowa community,” Parsons said. “When told about some of the pieces in the collection, I was thrilled to receive it.”

The mint condition pieces, along with the rarity of some of the clothing, gives the collection an estimated value of over $32,000.

“She did not have any idea what it was worth,” Kent Zimmerman said. “She only wanted it to be used in the classroom.”

From the start of the collection, Anne Zimmerman’s wish was to educate students and citizens with her pieces, as she felt the genius and creativity of American designers went under-appreciated. Currently, the exhibit is being used by a number of classes at Iowa State.

“We were blessed by her sense of fashion, her sense of humor and her sense of giving,” Kent Zimmerman said. “In death, Anne left a legacy that will have an impact on generations to come.”

“The Story of a Collector: Anne Zimmerman”

When: Through April 19

Where: Mary Alice Gallery, Morrill Hall

Normal museum hours are 11 a.m. 4 p.m. Monday through Friday


When: 5 p.m. Tuesday

Cost: Free