The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts has hosted some of my favorite fashion related exhibits in the past few years. The first I was able to attend at the lovely museum was the blockbuster Iris Apfel affair in 2010, Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel. The lady herself helped style the clothing and more importantly the jewelry she had donated. Pieces from Apfel's own jewelry collection were available for purchase in the gift shop.
Following the Apfel Exhibit, PEM hosted the photography exhibit in 2011 titled Man Ray | Lee Miller, Partners in Surrealism. Though not a fashion exhibit in the typical sense, the influence Man Ray, Lee Miller, and surrealism in general had over the fashion world is clear.
Most recently PEM hosted, Future Beauty: Avant-Garde Japanese Fashion, which ended last month in January 2014. Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto featured prominently in the exhibit that covered the Japapense fashion scene from the 80's onward. Many of the designs featured in the exhibit can be found in the book, Fashion A History from the 18th to the 20th century, published by Taschen, authored by The Kyoto Costume Institute.