Fashion, as a design discipline, comes out of processes that require specific knowledge and skills in order to produce any output. The set of techniques and methods implied in the production of fashion objects is technology. Over history, the methods of fashion and those of technology have overlapped and joined forces, producing not only objects, but progess in a wider sense.
Silk Ribbon woven on a Jacquard loom designed by M. Clack, ca. 1850, Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, CC BY-NC
Looking at fashion objects, both historical and contemporary, can shed light not only on the reasons, but also on the ways new technologies developed. Technological innovation have often developed thanks to the demand of the market, driven by the thrive of new or different fashions for the most diverse reasons: class distinction, economic supremacy, desire to either fit in or stand out.
The fashion system relied on technology not only to produce objects, but also to create meaning and build a narrative around the objects: this is the case of photos, plates and images crafted to make fashion a fascinating myth.
Nowadays, the word technology is tightly linked to digital tools. The possibilities digital technologies have opened up for museums and archives allow these institutions to exploit the potential of their collections and develop new, interesting ways to either preserve, exhibit and communicate their amazing holdings and ways to manage them.
Dress by designer Iris Van Herpen, 2007, Courtesy Central Museum, All Rights Reserved
We, as Europeana Fashion, feel part of this new technological era, and that’s why we decided to explore the meaning of the relationship between fashion heritage and technology - or, better, technologies - by looking at the very objects and retracing their stories. This theme will also be celebrated and analysed thoroughly in our upcoming symposium ‘Fashion Digital Memories’, in collaboration with IUAV University of Venice and Parsons Paris, which will take place in Venice on 22nd and 23rd May.