Let’s start with a small confession: I’ve never been to a runway show during Fashion Week in any of the big four. I’ve been in volved with the design of shows, but never have ended up anywhere near the front row when the march to present the looks begins.
Since 2007, however, I have made it my practice to look at every show via style.com. When I worked as a textile and fashion archive manager at Beyond Retro, consulting on vintage fashion for the contemporary market, seeing every single look – and print – coming down the catwalk was imperative in order to do my job. It was then that I began also keeping records of relevant and favourite designs and collections. I marveled at the fact that style.com’s My Lookbook function allowed users to collect and collate runway photos and share them via social media platforms.
I am reminded that it wasn’t so very long ago that in order to see next season’s looks soon after they were presented, one needed to either be in the industry, or be able to afford prohibitively expensive publications like Collezione which gave access to the latest.
Although I no longer work forecasting or consulting for the fashion industry, I still stay up late every evening in September and February, clicking through countless images of next spring or autumn’s fashions. This season, with fashion week still underway in Paris, I have been using Pinterest to archive selected looks from the shows. I created a board of favourites (looks which I either covet for my own wardrobe – or which I think will impact trend and subsequently fashion history) and a board of violet and purple ensembles.
Tracking the use of violet in Western fashion is an ongoing research strand of mine. Creating a board on Pinterest to archive curated images makes this work both simple and pleasurable to do. Furthermore, the ability to comment on and share the images makes Pinterest a notebook and publication in just a few clicks.
Although I am celebrating and embracing online digital means of researching and curating fashion and fashion media, I am still old-fashioned at heart. My digital archiving of fashion week has not precluded my affinity for magazines and paper ephemera. As the looks flashing on our screens make their way into print editorial and advertising images, I collect, clip out and categorise magazines and tearsheets for future reference and inspiration. I also publish images of material fashion-related artefacts I collect on my tumblr site Accidental Archivist. I record and share the images virtually, but also aim to present an exhibition of the items, collected somewhat randomly, as a curatorial experiment. I wonder which archives- the real or the virtual – will be more valuable to me in years to come.
How do you collect and archive fashion media? Whether you are a student of fashion, industry professional, museum curator or all-round fashion maven, tell us at Worn Though what you are archiving, how and why.