The London College of Fashion’s archive is a treasure chest of stunning artefacts, each rich with a unique story still being told. From advertising to garments, students can explore and handle the historic collection covering all aspects of fashion. The archive is invaluable to appreciate how fashion has developed in terms of design, production and promotion.
There is something for every student to be enthralled by, but for us inMA History and Culture of Fashion everything is intriguing and we are fortunate to be able to select pieces that are appealing from a personal perspective. For example, I am particularly interested in the vast hat collection the archive has to offer. The collection contains hats from high street and high-end retailers and designers, including Velonap of the 1950’s and contemporary examples by Philip Treacy. Most of the archive material is acquired by kind donation, and this is the case of the majority of the hats. The two that stand out for me are part of the ‘Abraham family’ donation and are wonderful examples of just how much modern hats hark back to these original designs. Although we do not know specific dates for the two hats, the beret by designer Graham Smith that replicates a flower with delicate petals, is circa 1950’s. The second is a vintage Chanel of the 1980’s, complete with box and in original condition. I was fortunate to be able to handle the pieces and properly investigate their attention to detail. By allowing students this privilege, the archives become more of a ‘living history’ that stimulates new designs and discussions.
Whether your interest is in the collection of Mary Quant make-up or Louis Bund’s salesman box with 252 samples of textile flowers, the archive will produce an array of examples that is bound to inspire further study and influence any piece of work.
For further discussion and examples of what the archive has to offer, please refer to the College website: