The Goldstein Museum of Design is best known for its apparel collections, so it makes sense that a dress code played a central role in its 35th-anniversary gala.

The black-and-white theme was inspired by the current exhibition on the color scheme, the movie of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and author Truman Capote's legendary masquerade ball. The stories behind what people wear is part of the University of Minnesota museum's mission.

"The collection has grown from several hundred objects to 30,000 now, primarily through the generosity of Minnesotans," said Lin Nelson-Mayson, museum director.

In recent years, about 15,000 items -- from girdles to a Bill Blass baby-doll dress to Navajo blankets -- have been added to an online database, making them more accessible.

"Apparel tells you a lot about your relationship to the world, about your time and how you see yourself in a certain environment," Nelson-Mayson said. "What we wear communicates to the people around us about our relationship to our society, our culture, our age and what we think is appropriate for the stage we're in."

The partygoers were dressed to impress in black and white and masks. There were standouts whose outfits spoke volumes.

Jessika Madison-Kennedy, a designer who coordinates the fashion design program at the College of Visual Arts, wore a vintage 1930s silk column dress she found in New York. Julia Wouk donned an ostrich-trimmed dress and matching hat by local designer Richard Beckel's Primeaux label. Ann Kenefick wore a vintage striped, beaded tunic commissioned in Paris for a member of the founding family of McDonald's.

"It weighs 9 pounds," said Kenefick, who decided not to attempt the equally hefty matching skirt.

The things we do for fashion.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177