European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal Exhibitions

Fashioning Europe Project

European fashionfashion schooltumblr curation

A collaboration with The New School – Parsons Paris

As aggregator of digital content from the major public institutions and private archives in Europe, the Europeana Fashion portal holds different kinds of digital items. From historical clothing and accessories to fashion plates, from contemporary fashion items to catwalk pictures, from editorials to corporate advertising campaigns, the items in the archive cross different chronologies and geographies, commenting on the very meaning of European cultural heritage. The variety of the collection has the potential to challenge stereotypes and fight preconceptions, allowing space for the creation of new concepts and definitions: this is the reason why we chose Europe as theme for this October.

The reflection upon the idea of Europe portrayed by the Europeana Fashion archive started some months ago, fostered by the recent political events and by the need to question the very construction and utility of our digital archive. These motivations led to an interesting conversation and,  in May, we teamed up with The New School Parsons Paris and asked the students of the course ‘Curating Fashion: History, Theory & Practice’ to dive into the Europeana collection to develop curatorial projects themed around the many definitions of Europe the archive allows. As a result of this collaboration, this October the Europeana Fashion Tumblr will host the outputs of this collaboration in the form of ‘capsule curations’ developed especially for Europeana by the students.

The main aim of the curatorial project, called Fashioning Europe, was to use the objects held in the Europeana Fashion archive to construct a narrative that informs a more nuanced definition of Europe, using fashion as privileged point of view to enter a wider debate on community, boundaries and belonging. The project wanted students to familiarise with a digital fashion archive such Europeana Fashion, reflecting on the issues linked to its dimension and nature of contents; it also wants to present the digital/Tumblr exhibition as space where to consider on the material and immaterial aspects of curatorial practices.

Each group of students developed a small exhibition, selecting a number of  images from the Europeana Fashion archive. The exhibitions are three: Les Objets Etrangers that focuses on the meaning, within European collections, of objects coming from different ‘elsewheres’; Europe vs Europe that explores the ways in which national identities were depicted on satirical prints; and Silent Resistance, an historical account of the material culture linked to World War II.

The main goal was to shape a definition of Europe, exploiting the potential of the plurality of the materials encountered in their research by students.  Each curation will be showcased on our Tumblr, preceded by a rationale published on our blog, where the members of each group will articulate their curatorial idea in words and explain their process and the reflection behind their choices.

All the curations took into account issues of provenance, in terms of both time and place, and ownership, in terms of both production and consumption. Students successfully drew historical trajectories and links between different images in order to instigate one or more specific reflections on the problematic themes of stereotypes, the relationship between the domestic and the foreign, and national, trans- and international identities. The curations animate our Tumblr, with new images posted every day at this link: