If you’re not going to wear the pieces, protecting them is "a little daunting," says Magidson, both in terms of space and expense. "Sandy Schreier and a few other have achieved standards of a museum." Schreier, based in suburban Detroit, is perhaps the top couture collector in the United States and possibly the world. Growing up, her father worked at a local department store. "The ladies who worked there would let me play dress-up, and, eventually, people just started giving me couture," she says. At that time, vintage fashion was just old clothes: "There was no cachet in saving things back then."
Names like Mainbocher and Schiaparelli began to have a powerful hold on her mind. Now she owns 15,000 pieces kept in pristine storage (she has to make an appointment to see them), and she is courted by most major museums for donations. Michael Kors and Isaac Mizrahi are among the fashion luminaries who sometimes call her up and ask for a peek into her special storage.