University of Technology Sydney

83004 Fashion and the Museum

Requisite(s): 83119 Thinking Fashion AND 83231 Fashion Cultures


While fashion is very much the study of contemporaneity and the zeitgeist, the life of the material objects continue well after their moment at the apex of collective tastes. This subject is an exploration of the journey of fashion objects once they cease to be in fashion and how they are preserved, studied, and displayed in museums. While the first museum exhibitions of fashion were as early as 1913 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and fashion collections, such as the Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan were established in the 1970s, a turning point occurred early this century once the Metropolitan Museum in New York started to stage exhibitions that were as large and as popular as even Impressionist painters. Fashion was by then being displayed with equal status to any other of the artistic treasures of humanity.

This subject studies this reevaluation of fashion within institutions, examines the colonial structures which have plagued museum cultures, and explores contemporary curatorial practices used to display clothes and tell their stories with cultural sensitivity. With unprecedented access to the Powerhouse Museum, its fashion curators, and extensive collection this course also introduces students to thinking of fashion as ephemeral physical objects with very specific preservation needs, and the forensic methods sometimes needed to understand their construction. Most importantly the course helps students understand their own studio practices through the very long lens of fashion history.

Detailed subject description.

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