European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal EFHA World

“Weaving Fashion Tales” – Workshop with IUAV University of Venice

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Contemporary design cultures students at IUAV University of Venice dived into the archive to tell stories about fashion and its various manifestations

One of the characteristics that makes fashion so fascinating is its complexity: its own communicative potential, the proximity to people, its being a single and collective identity tool.
But also, its fundamental relationship with materiality, its nature as design discipline, which allows to start from objects, considering their physical characteristics, in order to understand them and tell their stories. The objects contained in archives inform our understanding of fashion in different ways; they allow us to recover stories that are sometimes forgotten, and to retrace the scenarios and atmospheres in which these objects originated and became part of people’s lives.

Due to its nature as a collective database for museums, foundations and institutions, the EFHA digital archive allows to virtually move between collections that are different for provenance and purpose, leaving the freedom to build new paths to recover the past, understand the present and even imagine the future.


These reflections were at the basis of a conversation we started some months ago with our partners at IUAV University of Venice. We teamed up with Dr. Elena Fava, who teaches contemporary design cultures at IUAV, and developed an ad hoc project with her students to give them the chance to learn about our archive, play with it and use it in order to test their knowledge about the relationship between fashion and time.

The workshop consisted in the exploration of the EFHA database to build a research path that substantiated – with objects, data and images – a reflection on some key words / apparent oxymorons,  related to issues addressed in the course of contemporary design cultures:

Reproducibility / Uniqueness
Hand made / Ready product
Art / Design
Design / Collect
Materiality / Immateriality

Each group chose a theme and developed a research path in the archive, selecting the best objects to represent it and trying to articulate the reasons why these objects were linked to each other, or in any case significant with respect to the chosen theme.

Stay tuned on our social media platforms, where we will the most compelling stories the students managed to weave after diving into the EFHA archive.