PEM Acquires Marilyn Riseman Collection

More than 700 pieces from the late Boston fashionista's collection will go to the Peabody Essex Museum.

marilyn riseman society

The always-fashionable Marilyn Riseman in her Beacon Hill home. / Photograph by Conor Doherty for “Little Miss Popular,” Boston Magazine 2010

The Peabody Essex just made an envious new acquisition. Just ahead of Boston Fashion Week, the museum announced that it has acquired the fashion collection of the late noted Boston figure Marilyn Riseman.

According to the announcement, the collection comprises more than 700 garments and accessories representing international avant-garde fashion of the last 40 years. The works include items by Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Ohne Titel. And, of course, Riseman’s collection also includes works by Boston designers, including Daniela Corte and Alan Bilzerian.


A nod to Riseman in our May issue. Most of the clothing and accessories came from her collection. / Photograph by Formento & Formento for “Boston After Dark,” Boston Magazine 2014

Riseman, who passed away earlier this year, had a distinct style all her own. At high society parties, she stood out with her short bob and bold makeup. Her ensembles were often red and black-and-white, although this was certainly not a woman scared of wearing cheetah print either (see below).

In the 1960s, Riseman opened Apogee, a boutique that she grew and ran for nearly two decades. Over the years, she became a fashion icon throughout the city, a powerful socialite who wasn’t afraid to sport some pumped up kicks.

Riseman, who always had a strong presence at Boston Fashion Week, will continue to be an important part of the event this year. At BFW in October, designers will keep a front-row seat open during her shows in memory of Riseman’s influence and support of the local fashion community.

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Photograph by Scott M. Lacey for “Paint the Town Red,” Boston Home Magazine 2013