Leonard and David McKay Gallery at the Pasetta House

Fashion to Die For: A Shopper’s Dilemma (March 19 – December 31, 2017)

Saturday & Sunday
11:00 am to 4:00 pm

Cheetah Coat
Cheetah Paw Fur Coat, c. 1945. (History San Jose Collection. Photo credit Dave Monley Photography)

Featuring selections from History San José’s extensive textile collection, this exhibit explores the fashion industry, and its unintended consequences and victims, with a particular focus on San Jose. The rise of commercial shopping is documented, from the 19th century woolen mills, to downtown department stores, and the burgeoning shopping centers on the outskirts of town. We’ll touch on labor conditions in the industry creating these “to die for” fashions, as well as the dangerous — and sometimes lethal — chemicals used in fabrics and manufacturing processes. In addition, the innocent victims — animals — are highlighted and given their due. Throughout, the focus is on eye-catching and locally-produced pieces from our textile collection.

Exhibit Press

About the Gallery

The Pasetta House was moved to History Park in 1985. Thanks to a generous gift from the Pasetta family, restoration of the house began in 2004; the building was dedicated in 2005. Leonard McKay was instrumental in planning this space as a gallery with climate control and lighting that would meet museum standards suitable for exhibiting art and artifacts. This generosity has afforded History San José the opportunity to host multiple exhibits and to display countless works from its collection. History San José wishes to thank these families for their significant and permanent contribution to History Park and to the community.

About Leonard McKay

A native of Los Gatos and World War II veteran, McKay ran the Smith and McKay Printing Company in San Jose until 1983, when he sold ownership to his son David. From 1986 to 2003, he operated Memorabilia of San José at 250 West St. John Street. In the 1960s, he began collecting paintings by local artists such as A.D.M. Cooper, Andrew Putnam Hill, and Louis O. Lussier. Passionate about local history, McKay was active in the Santa Clara County Pioneers, History San José, and the Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History.