table coverQuality Clarks Fleet Top Junior

 Clarks Fleet Top Junior 

Clarks Fleet Top Junior

 

As “heritage” continues to obsess the industry, the fashion archive is becoming highly prized. Brands are pouring resources into building museums in which to house their collections, while canny young designers are buying back garments from clients, or bidding against collectors and museums to retrieve rare vintage pieces with which to build their own.

Many brands are now using their archives to produce exhibitions as a way of extending their brand message. The Fondation Pierre Berg?– Yves Saint Laurent will open two museums in autumn 2017, in Paris and Marrakesh, to celebrate the work of its founder, Yves Saint Laurent. The Gucci Museum, which opened in Florence in 2011, recently announced acquisitions from Tom Ford’s era at the house. The Missoni archive is on display at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London (until September 4).

” There’s a dawning realisation that if you want to be a so-called heritage brand, you have to be able to tell the story through objects,” explains Sonnet Stanfill, fashion curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. “An archive can be useful for design inspiration, for lending to an exhibition, or for if you think you ‘d want to do your own retrospective.”

 

 

Shonagh Marshall, a freelance curator who archived Alexander McQueen’s collection in preparation for the Met’s Savage Beauty exhibition in 2015, and who has also worked on the archive collections of Christian Louboutin and the late stylist Isabella Blow, agrees. “The motivation often lies in the sense of building a brand, which is now entwined with cultural heritage. Keeping those objects means keeping a sense of narrative– without them you have no assets.”

Kerry Taylor, who runs her own auction house, is considered a world leader in vintage fashion, antique costume and textiles. She often finds herself selling back items to design houses prepared to pay huge sums for missing pieces.

 

” Some of the more established brands, such as Dior, Balenciaga and Chanel, really see the value in buying back their heritage,” she explains. “The Chanel archive in Paris is like a glamorous high-security prison. Everything has black lacquered sliding cabinets. If Karl Lagerfeld wants to look at something from the 1920s or 1930s, there it is, beautifully stored and catalogued. Not only does it reinforce the importance of the brand itself, [but also] when new designers come along they can plunder it for ideas– and stay within the house.”

one-time romantic partner and longtime business partner of Saint Laurent, started building the Saint Laurent archive soon after the brand’s foundation. It was a prescient move.

” Yves decided to keep a dress for the first time in 1964, only two years after we founded the couture house,” says Berg?. “I remember it very well, it was a brown lace dress that he loved very much.”

The Fondation Pierre Berg?-Yves Saint Laurent has since become a huge enterprise. “Besides the 5,000 garments and 15,000 accessories, our archive also contains all the original drawings, as well as the atelier’s specification sheets, the collection boards and a large number of press articles, photos and videos of collections,” he continues. “Each piece is stored on our premises under optimal conditions: air conditioning, humidity controls, anti-acid paper. About 10 people, mainly trained museum specialists, work on the preservation and the documentation of the collection.” Berg? is proud of his ability to share the YSL story with both the public and those who head up the design department– including newly appointed creative director Anthony Vaccarello. “Since we closed the couture house in 2002, the archives have always been made available to the designers from the ready-to-wear house. Hedi Slimane [who left this year, and borrowed heavily from the house’s original 1960s design aesthetic] came many times. He is a great connoisseur and admirer of Yves’ oeuvre. Anthony Vaccarello immediately asked to come and visit the archives.”

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