Lipperheide Costume Library – Fashion Image Collection

The Lipperheide Costume Library is one of the world’s largest collections dedicated to the history of clothing and fashion. It consists of a collection of graphic works, including drawings, photographs, and prints, a gallery of paintings and miniatures, and a library with bound written and visual sources, with the oldest books dating back to the Middle Ages.

With some 225,000 individual sheets, the graphic collection comprises fashion sketches by figures such as Lieselotte Friedländer, René Gruau, Mela Köhler-Broman, Georges Lepape, Antonio Lopez, and Trude Rein, and fashion photographs by Michel Comte, F.C. Gundlach, Karl Lagerfeld, Sarah Moon, Rico Puhlmann, Regi Relang, and Yva. These are among the collection’s most recent works, and depict designs by extremely important fashion designers, such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, Jil Sander, Yves Saint Laurent, Mary Quant, and Madeleine Vionnet. Drawn or painted portraits and printed matter disseminated as individual sheets depicting clothing – including numerous fashion plates and caricatures – expand the historical span of clothing represented in the collection.

As with the graphic collection, the holdings of the library are systematically arranged and divided up according to geographical, chronological, and thematic markers. Fashion magazines, ranging from the late 18th century to the present day – such as Cabinet des Modes, Journal des Luxus und der Moden, Gallery of Fashion, Gazette du bon Ton, Styl, Vogue, or 032C – enjoy great international popularity, with more publications constantly being added, and the contemporary magazines continually expanded via international subscriptions. One of the unique highlights among the books in the holdings is an extensive collection of the first printed books on traditional costumes and attire, as well as travel reports from the second half of the 16th century, which document in writing the clothing of people from various cultural groups and regions. Another jewel are the descriptions of festivities in Europe from the 16th to 18th century. They document the regional fashion cultures seen at ceremonies of state, at royal and ecclesiastical events, or at private or popular celebrations. The collection of historical dress codes from Europe, which were intended to regulate the clothing of various social classes by way of laws and bans, has a particular focus on the regulations of the city of Nuremberg. The library also possesses an extensive amount of secondary literature on the topic.

The lion’s share of the historical holdings can be traced back to the “Costume Studies Collection” amassed by the Berlin couple Franz and Frieda Lipperheide, who owned a publishing house and donated their holdings to the Königliche Museen zu Berlin in 1892. Right from the start, the collection was structured both as an international research library with a remarkable wealth of source documents and secondary literature, and as a museum collection with exquisite printed works, artistic drawings, prints, photographs and paintings relevant to the history of clothing. These complementary functions are what makes this collection on the study of clothing stand out internationally. The collection is continually being expanded to include contemporary material.

The books and objects from the collection can be ordered to be viewed in the Study Room. Books can be requested directly through OPAC. If you would like to inspect any of the objects in the collection, prior registration is required. 


Books: OPAC of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Collection objects: Online collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The digital database only provides access to sections of the graphic Lipperheide Collection. If you cannot find particular objects on there, get in touch with the Kunstbibliothek by telephone or email.

Contact for Requesting Items from the Collections

Phone: +49 30 266424101
E-Mail: kb[at]