Europeana Fashion
Introducing this month's theme: authorship
The Editor's Column: Authorship
4 April, 2017

In fashion, names are crucial: the history of fashion was constructed on the names of the designers who shaped the most iconic silhouettes, or designed the unforgettable items that became symbols of their time. However, this kind of history is sometimes guilty of leaving behind some of the names whose role is not to visible, but still invaluably important.

Label of suit by H Huntsman & Sons
Label of Suit by H. Huntsman & Sons Ltd, Courtesy Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, All Rights Reserved

Fashion objects themselves can be used to challenge this narrative, allowing us to discover new stories hidden behind the scenes of their production. What we consider fashion objects, be it clothes or accessories, are the end result of a process that involves many different actors. They originate from the encounter of different realities, sharing knowledge and abilities in order to produce something.

The visibility designers have nowadays turned them into public personae, whose image and name is directly linked to the aesthetic they develop in their work. The status of celebrities granted to designers has a flip side: it often ends up concealing the intricate network of artisans, technicians, manufacturers, producers without whom fashion could simply not be possible.

chanel handbag

Chanel 2.55, 1986, Courtesy Modemuseum Hasselt, All Rights Reserved

Objects and their biographies can be used as tools to question the common definition of author, and make us rethink creation in terms of lively networks. The stories of the production of fashion items are interesting because they make us understand that every detail of an object comes out of a dialogue, a collaboration, a partnership.

Fashion materially explains that creativity has to be paired with technical rigour, savoir-faire and craftsmanship. By choosing authorship as this month’s theme, we want to present some of the ways in which designers have constructed their image and exploited their visibility in order to make some statements through fashion. We also intend to look at the experiences and personal relationships behind the creation of beautiful objects.