I’m a Fashion Archivist—These 7 Trends Are Officially Back, and Here’s Why – Who What Wear

i’m-a-fashion-archivist—these-7-trends-are-officially-back,-and-here’s-why-–-who-what-wear

Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Spring 2003 Ready to Wear by Tom Ford

Photo:

Dominique Maître/Penske Media via Getty Images; PICTURED: Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Spring 2003 Ready-to-Wear by Tom Ford

For those who don’t know about the concept of archival work, how would you describe it? What is the difference between a historian and an archivist?

Being a fashion historian means knowing precise details and trends from previous collections/periods in fashion history and being aware of significant moments from past brands/designers in collections. Being an archivist means knowing how to properly preserve and store an item to hold and even appreciate its value. The term archivist is used loosely today, unfortunately. But before I could even be admitted to my MA program, I had to take college-level chemistry. Real archivists understand collections management is rooted in science and know that the environment is key to maintaining the quality of the pieces. It’s why I opened my very own facility in Los Angeles: Wardrobe West. It’s truly the “backstage” of a museum with climate control, air filtration, light control, 24-hour security, custom racking, etc., and I’m proud to say it’s the first archival facility opened by a museum-trained archivist. 

What exactly is the archival process? Why is it important?

The archiving process entails photography, cataloging, asset digitization, and proper storage based on the particular construction and materials of a garment or accessory. For my company, we created our proprietary software, The Digital Archivist, to physically and digitally archive items and make it easy for our clients to browse, search, and request items from their collections while keeping them in a museum-quality space. The concept of archiving, especially with The Wardrobe, is so important because we help maximize your items’ life and value and unlock hidden value by helping you leverage your collection for profit.

Gucci's Spring/Summer 1996 collection by Tom Ford

Photo:

Davide Maestri/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images; PICTURED: Gucci S/S 96 collection by Tom Ford

Since your work is about creating archives, why do you think it’s important to document and maintain clothing within a larger context? How do you feel preserving clothing helps society at large?

Our services and the proper preservation of belongings are integral for many reasons—sustainable, educational, and so much more. For example, for entertainers, we archive everything our clients wear on tour, on the red carpet, and even the things that they are documented wearing in their personal lives. For individual clients, preserving their belongings helps to create true heirlooms, whether they are to be passed down to future generations or eventually used for another purpose. For designers, our work enables their design teams to utilize past collections for current inspiration, document house codes for new designers, and allow their press and marketing teams to use pieces for promotional and retail partnerships, employee onboarding, and ultimately securing a designer’s legacy.

Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Fall 2001 Ready to Wear Runway Show

Photo:

Dominique Maître/Penske Media via Getty Images; PICTURED: Yves Saint Laurent F/W 2001 collection by Tom Ford

Since you’ve worked with some of the largest fashion brands in the industry, are there any you feel do an incredible job drawing inspiration from their archives?

I think that Mr. Ford knows who his customer is, and at the core of his designs, he sticks to his signature aesthetic while still offering exciting concepts every season. And although I can’t say Saint Laurent is my client, Anthony Vaccarello (and Hedi Slimane before him) constantly pulls from the YSL archives. You will always see vintage prints, cuts, and homages to Saint Laurent’s original muses appear on the runway every season but modernized.

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