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IFS Event: Re-Fashioning Archives

IFS Event: Re-Fashioning Archives  Alexandru Nimurad. Photograph by Vlad Birdu

Alexandru Nimurad. Photograph by Vlad Birdu

15 February 2015
by Kendall Robbins

21 February, 13.00-14.00
Brewer Street Car Park, Brewer Street,
London. W1F 0LA

A panel discussion exploring what the archive means in contemporary fashion
both as an inspiration for designers and as a way for museums to connect with the industry today.
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Chair: Professor Caroline Evans, Professor of Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins


Oriole Cullen, Senior Curator for Contemporary Fashion at Victoria and Albert Museum

Tim Long, Curator of Fashion and Decorative Arts at Museum of London

Agi Mdumulla and Sam Cotton, Designers at Agi & Sam

Rosemary Harden, Curator and Manager at Fashion Museum, Bath


The UK is a world leader in fashion curation, one of the roles of the museum curator or archivist is to work with a collection. In order to keep collections meaningful and relevant many museums and collections initiate projects and programmes with designers and the fashion industry and in turn visitor figures to fashion exhibitions and collections spike in London during London Fashion Week.

Behind the scenes these archives and collections are also used for research and inspiration by designers working today. British fashion colleges and schools in particular placed fashion history within the framework of their design courses encouraging generations of young designers to access collections and archives.

Established fashion brands have also begun to invest more heavily in their own archives using them as a design tool and placing them at the centre of their brand identity. With the revival of fashion houses from Vionnet to Schiaparelli these company archives serve as the underpinnings of new collections. What makes them so compelling for designers and customers?

In many parts of the world access to collections like those we are lucky enough to have in the UK is limited - fashion and textiles may not be considered to be important enough collected, preserved and made accessible to designers. Where collections do exist they are sometimes not valued or used by contemporary designers.

The International Fashion Showcase has often highlighted designers that transform their historical textile and fashion culture into contemporary fashion that can be appreciated globally, many of whom have worked with traditional techniques, materials and their countries’ fashion heritage. Why does this referencing of the past capture designers imaginations so often and how does it make a wider audience aware of these important collections and archives?

British Council Project