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Museums and the Making of Textile Histories: Past, Present, and Future

A discussion with Birgitt Borkopp-Restle, Peter McNeil, Sara Martinetti, and Giorgio Riello, moderated by Lesley Miller
Les musées et la fabrication d’histoires du textile : passé, présent, futur
Birgitt Borkopp-Restle, Peter McNeil, Sara Martinetti, Lesley Miller et Giorgio Riello
Traduction de Olga Grlic
p. 43-60

Résumé

Nombre de musées différents collectionnent et préservent les textiles, et collectent les données les concernant. Ils les interprètent également par le biais d’expositions temporaires ou semi permanentes, de publications et d’interventions sur des sites web. Ces interprétations se présentent isolément, ou sont parfois inscrites dans un cadre plus large qui englobe l’histoire de l’art et du design, la science et la technologie, ou encore l’histoire sociale et l’anthropologie, l’histoire locale et les cultures du monde (types de textiles et approches utilisées dans les grandes capitales de la mode – Londres, Paris, Milan, New York – possédant une longue tradition de production et de consommation textile, ou dans des villes manufacturières telles que Krefeld, Lyon ou Manchester, par exemple).
Malgré tout, les événements organisés autour des textiles attirent rarement l’attention du grand public ou les éloges de la critique – hormis peut-être certaines expositions novatrices telles que celles organisées par Jean-Paul Leclercq (« Jouer la lumière », Paris, Les Arts décoratifs, Musée de la Mode et du textile, 2001), Thomas P. Campbell, (« Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002), Amelia Peck et al. (« Interwoven Globe : The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800 », New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013-2014), ou John Styles (« Threads of Feeling », Londres, The Foundling Hospital, 2010-2011/Colonial Williamsburg, 2014). Cette discussion vise à tirer parti des différentes expériences culturelles des participants et des diverses formations disciplinaires qu’ils incarnent :
- Encourager le débat sur le rôle joué par les musées en matière de fabrication et de représentation de l’histoire des textiles. Les musées ne sont pas simplement dépositaires d’objets textiles : ils écrivent aussi leur histoire, qu’elle soit universitaire ou grand public, par le biais d’expositions et de publications. Comment ce travail s’articule-t-il avec la recherche universitaire et le partage des connaissances ? Tient-il compte des nouveaux apports de la recherche et alimente-t-il celle-ci ? Comment faire évoluer à l’avenir les échanges entre musées et universités dans différentes régions et cultures du monde ?
- Déterminer quels musées font preuve d’innovation (à l’échelle locale, régionale, nationale et internationale). En quoi consistent ces innovations, et peuvent-elle contribuer à déterminer de futures orientations, notamment en matière de collection et d’interprétation ? Par interprétation, il faut entendre ici tout type d’explication sous forme numérique ou analogique fournie pour contextualiser les œuvres exposées.
- Il est difficile, désormais, d’affirmer que seuls les historiens de l’art sont à même de proposer une étude dynamique des objets datant de la période post 1500, et l’intérêt quasi exclusif porté jusqu’ici aux textiles attachés à la tradition bien établie de la collection d’amateur d’art (essentiellement les tentures et tapisseries répondant à des commandes de prestige) est aujourd’hui remis en question par l’adoption d’approches plus globales par les historiens et les spécialistes de l’histoire du design et de la culture matérielle.

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Sara Martinetti’s contribution was translated from French by Olga Grlic.

Texte intégral

Many different types of museums collect, document, and preserve textiles, interpreting them through temporary and semi-permanent exhibitions, publications, and website interventions – sometimes independently, sometimes as part of a broader history of art and design, science and technology, social history and anthropology, local history or world cultures (for example, see the range and approaches in major fashion capitals such as London, Paris, Milan, New York with a long tradition of textile production as well as consumption, and in manufacturing cities such as Krefeld, Lyon, Manchester).

Nonetheless, textile-focused events seldom receive great public attention or critical acclaim, with the possible exceptions of innovative temporary exhibitions such as Jean-Paul Leclercq, “Jouer la Lumière” (Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs, 2001); Thomas P. Campbell, “Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence” (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002); Amelia Peck et al., “Interwoven Globe. The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800” (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013-2014); John Styles, “Threads of Feeling” (London, The Foundling Hospital, 2010-2011; Colonial Williamsburg, 2014).1 The aims of this debate are to draw on the different cultural experiences and disciplinary backgrounds of participants:

- To generate discussion over the role of museums in making and representing textile histories. Museums are not only depositories of textile objects, but also write or make both public and academic history through displays and publications. But how does their work relate to university research and dissemination, feed such research, or react to it? How might interactions between museums and universities in different regions and cultures be developed in the future?

- To consider where innovative museum work is being undertaken (locally, regionally, nationally, internationally), wherein lies its innovation, and how it might suggest directions for the future (in collecting, interpretation, etc.). By interpretation, I mean any analogue or digital explanation that contextualizes the objects on display.

- To suggest that the most dynamic study of objects from 1500 to the present is no longer limited to art historians – indeed, that the focus in art history on textiles that belong within a well-established tradition of connoisseurship (in which tapestries and high-end commissions for wall-hangings dominate) is being challenged by the adoption of a more inclusive approach among historians, design historians, and historians of material culture. [Lesley Miller]

Lesley Miller. Exhibitions – temporary or semi-permanent – are the most overt manifestations of museum scholarship in textiles. At a time when methods of textile and clothing production are increasingly unfamiliar to most museum audiences in post-industrial Europe and America, blockbuster fashion exhibitions such as Andrew Bolton’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011; extended and curated by Claire Wilcox to London, for the V&A, 2015) nonetheless attract previously unimaginable numbers of visitors.

Do such popular exhibitions represent an innovative approach to textile history, or effectively introduce ideas about the crafting or meanings of textiles, or might recent smaller-scale, lower-budget exhibitions be more indicative of new ideas in this field? Might the content of the latter be explored effectively on a grander scale?

Giorgio Riello. The debate over “blockbuster” vs. “couture” exhibitions extends well beyond the domain of textiles, clothing and fashion, though the last few years have seen the emergence of large-scale exhibitions involving textiles. Quite a few of them are “fashion exhibitions” with major exceptions such as the “Interwoven Globe” exhibition at the Met in 2013-2014 that specifically focused on textiles. Here I would like to distinguish between fashion and textile exhibitions. My sense is that fashion exhibitions are not necessarily concerned with the materiality of the object. Visitors might be asked to appreciate the intricate nature of an artifact but rarely are they told about the labor that goes into it, or the skills of hundreds, sometimes thousands of seamstresses, tailors, and other artisans employed in the textile trades. It is interesting to note how textiles have now found a place in permanent exhibitions (of course through careful rotation), but the role of textiles in fashion exhibitions is limited. Fashion is presented too much as something conceptual – great artistry, new ideas, even genius – and too little concerned about its materiality. There are however exceptions: the French pay a great deal of attention to the materiality of fashion. Examples are the splendid exhibition on “Madeleine Vionnet, puriste de la mode” in 2009-2010 at the Musée des Arts décoratifs or the more recent exhibition on buttons (“Déboutonner la mode,” 2015) at the same museum. I particularly enjoyed the latter as it displayed wonderful objects: elaborately embroidered eighteenth-century men’s jackets with matching buttons, thus showing techniques, materials, and a different – rather quirky – history of fashion since the early modern period. I am arguing for a stronger integration between fashion and textiles to make people aware that materials, techniques and labor are essential in understanding fashion, but also that without fashion we cannot understand innovation in fabrics. I was surprised – and extremely pleased – to see that the curators of “The Fabric of India” exhibition at the V&A (2015-2016), Rosemary Crill and Divia Patel, decided to pay attention to techniques and dedicated the first room to different processes of weaving, decorating, and to the materials employed. This was a large-scale exhibition entirely dedicated to textiles that had stronger coherence than, for instance, the “Interwoven Globe” exhibition. The scaling-up of textile exhibitions presents not just a technical (and budgetary) demand for the curators but also a conceptual challenge in finding a theme that is neither too esoteric nor too vague. Recent exhibitions at The Met and the V&A show that it can be done, though I am unsure how the model can be replicated in smaller museums.

  • 2 Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity,” Paris, Musée d’Orsay; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of (...)

Peter McNeil. The rise of the fashion “blockbuster” both offers opportunities and poses some risk for the scope and ambition of textiles’ presentation in museums and related scholarship. On the one hand, the presence of fashion in the museum has probably never been so prominent since the tenure of Diana Vreeland at the Met from 1973 to 1989. It should be noted that many of her exhibits were considered historically inaccurate at the time, despite their great popular appeal. The public has come to expect the spectacular, the outré and generally the contemporary in their museum visits. All around the world there is a rise of interest in contemporary practice, at the same time as the market for antiques declines and the teaching of history is threatened. There is an opportunity here to use the lure of the contemporary to explain aspects of the past. This is not to suggest that fashion exhibitions about the historical past have not been substantial and effective.2

  • 3 Charles James: Beyond Fashion,” New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014, curated by Harold (...)

The most common format preferred by publics and museum-marketing departments alike is the twenty to twenty-first century single author haute couture, rather than the thematic exhibition; people enjoy exhibitions about an individual named designer since they recognise the brand as a part of everyday life – and the branding is useful for the marketing department. This poses certain problems and challenges, since the model of haute couture tends to be about the finished garment, although the act of making and the heritage of artisanal skills can also be explained to the public through textile samples, toiles, sketches, or even lavish digital recreation of pattern making, as seen in the “Charles James” exhibition at the Metropolitan.3

  • 4 On this point see the arguments contained in Double-Face: The Story about Fashion and Art from Moha (...)

The production of clothing generated from a designer’s vision or intention also marks something distinctive that raises issues of artistic rights and copyright within the appearance industries. There is a great opportunity to link the artisanal – embroidery, embellishment, textile experimentation, technology, and so forth – with moral, ethical and social topics of interest to a new generation of viewers and consumers and the so-called contemporary “craftivism”, the concept of ethical fashion, and “upcycling”. The rise of vintage clothing, which is now reproduced from new materials to simulate the old, plays a role here in connecting everyday social practices with the role that museums play as a part of leisure and tourism industries, as well as learning for some. As popular culture has shaped contemporary art since the 1960s, making fashion the very center of its ethos, the “mechanism” of fashion is ever stronger in contemporary life.4 However, it is often fashion as “image” rather than fabricated artifact, whether hand-made, part-crafted or made industrially – from textiles – that is at the forefront.

  • 5 See the exhibition catalogue: The Stuff That Matters. Textiles collected by Seth Siegelaub for the (...)

Sara Martinetti. As a response, I would like to describe a particular room in the exhibition “The Stuff That Matters: Textiles Collected by Seth Siegelaub for the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles” that I co-curated in 2012 and which represents an example of a small-scale project that aims to address research questions through a lively curatorial approach.5 The exhibition was conceived as site-specific and took place at Raven Row, a non-profit contemporary art exhibition center. The curators, interested in the figure of Siegelaub – a promoter of conceptual art and practices known as dematerialized art in New York during the second half of the 1960s – turned their gaze to the textile collection that he had assembled a number of years after leaving the art world and placed it in a dialogue with the geography and history of Raven Row, located in London’s Spitalfields area, and whose thriving economy during the eighteenth century was based on the silk industry. A selection of two hundred textiles from different eras and geographic origins was exhibited in eleven rooms according to a varying scenario in a layout that played with the immersive dimension of the textiles.

  • 6 Seth Siegelaub, “Notes Towards a Critical History of the Literature of Textiles,” in Bibliographica (...)
  • 7 “Je cherche actuellement les moyens de vous faire parvenir quelques livres assez curieux qu’on m’a (...)

The gallery “Forbidden Fabrics and the Church,” on the street-side ground floor, exhibited a selection of European silks and books from the eighteenth century in bespoke display counters referring to the former use of the site – a shop established in 1754 by the Huguenot mercer Nicholas Jourdain. More generally, the history of Spitalfields was evoked here through a timeline of parliamentary acts governing the production and consumption of silk, including various Spitalfields Acts issued between 1773 and 1811 in order to regulate the wages of local weavers and protect their trade. In an alcove of the same gallery, the presentation addressed the main commissioner of silk clothing in modern times: the Church. A series of chasubles and dalmatics from the Siegelaub collection were hung as if offered for sale in a shop for religious articles and completed by textile offcuts on tables, as if waiting to be assembled by an imaginary tailor. While visiting the exhibition, Vivienne Westwood, taking part in the game, wanted to take down the clothes from the hangers. This part of the exhibition illustrated Siegelaub’s social approach. In his bibliographical research he aimed to “weave together [...] the social-economic-practical aspects along with the artistic, decorative and beautiful aspects.”6 Under the guise of a fashionable eighteenth-century shop presenting the latest designs and techniques, we, the curators, brought up the question of trade in goods and privileges that dictate aesthetic choices, in other words, economic and political interests that govern the circulation of textiles, thus evoking “the commerce of thoughts,” an expression that Voltaire used in a letter from 1765: “I am currently looking for ways to get some rather curious books to you that were sent to me from Holland. The commerce of thoughts is somewhat interrupted in France. It is even said that it is forbidden to send ideas from Lyon to Paris. The products of the human mind are seized like forbidden fabrics.”7 In an ironic reversal of history, the gallery was now exhibiting textiles – foreign silks, mainly from France – whose importation was at that time prohibited by parliamentary acts that precisely allowed the prosperous development of the former shop.

It seems then that small-scale exhibitions – including private collections – may allow for more flexible conditions than museums in terms of presentation and conservation. The type of approach exemplified by “The Stuff That Matters” can indeed be reused in a context where major museums, via the general history of art, are looking for and requiring new narratives.

  • 8 A successful exhibition is here understood as one that attracts a large number of visitors; certain (...)

Birgitt Borkopp-Restle. Although it is a truism that (fashionable) clothing is made from textiles, there seems to be a marked difference in the response of the public to fashion exhibitions (especially when they feature the work of internationally renowned designers or explore the wardrobes of “fashion icons”) and to exhibitions of textiles and textile history. One probably has to concede that a blockbuster fashion exhibition attracts not only a larger, but also a different audience from the one that might visit a textile exhibition, and it may well be that these audiences also react to different aspects of an exhibition – apart from new ideas or the results of recent scholarship. An innovative scenography, an attractive program of events and activities to accompany the exhibition proper, and the use of contemporary media certainly are of great importance in producing a successful show.8

If, in recent years, exhibitions like “Jouer la lumière” (Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs, Musée de la Mode et du Textile, 2001), “Interwoven Globe” (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013-2014), and a few others mentioned above have attracted substantial numbers of visitors (even if not quite as stupendous as the big fashion shows), they indeed impressed both colleagues in the field and a larger audience through new ideas and approaches that had been worked out over several years and were presented in carefully organized shows accompanied by beautiful catalogues. These were neither small-scale nor low-budget productions within their genre – so one probably has to say that exhibitions of textiles and textile history also require a certain amount of exhibition space, preparation time, and funding, both for a publication and for an effective media presence in order to get their message across. One could actually ask if their visibility and general effect might be enhanced by using more elaborate scenographies and the integration of modern media in the displays and in a communication program. Well-designed visualizations could help visitors understand the textile objects on display, especially where aspects of craft and technology are concerned (and not only there).

Lesley Miller. Publications – collections catalogues, exhibition catalogues, spin-off commercial titles, etc. – make available museum scholarship through good quality photography and differing levels of textual description and analysis, providing access to collections for those who visit exhibitions and study objects, as well as those who are not able to do so.

How have museum publications affected the writing of textile history/ies in your disciplinary field? Might their content be enhanced to provide greater theoretical or practical stimulus? Do any museum publications reveal, in a particularly potent way for diverse audiences, current directions in academic history?

Birgitt Borkopp-Restle. In all museums that preserve large collections of textiles and clothing, only a small portion of the material can be put on display at any given time, both because there never is enough exhibition space and because of the particularly vulnerable nature of textiles. Online databases and, in particular, publications that present collections and individual objects with good photographs and detailed information are therefore all the more valuable: they provide access to material not easily available otherwise. Despite this importance, museum publications – namely collections and exhibition catalogues – have, with few exceptions, not often received from university-based scholars the attention that they deserve, either because they are “too object-focused” for the theoretically minded, or because their addressing a larger, non-specialized audience seems to place them in a different category from the norm in scholarly publications. We must hope that the recent interest in material culture will also lead to a new appreciation for museum catalogues!

  • 9 Claire Wilcox, Valerie Mendes (eds.), Modern Fashion in Detail, London, 1991; Avril Hart, Susan Nor (...)
  • 10 Jouer la lumière, Jean-Paul Leclercq (ed.), exh. cat. (Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs, Musée de la Mode (...)

Museum curators could certainly stimulate interest in their publications, if they made more of their proximity to the objects and their opportunity to work in tandem with excellent photographers: how often do we see nothing but standard frontal shots even in otherwise well-designed, carefully (and expensively) produced catalogues – and deplore the lack of details, rear views or unusual perspectives that would bring out all the stunning effects designed in and for textiles! The “Fashion in Detail” series at the V&A9 is a great (and, judging by the number of editions, very successful) example of what can be achieved by carefully chosen views of items of clothing and the many ingenious ways they were crafted and decorated. We could stand to gain even more from publications that turned visual documentation or a text accompanied by illustrations into an argument supported by visual evidence.10 Such an approach could position museum scholarship in the center of wider historical, art historical or anthropological contexts and connect it to the questions traditionally and – especially if we think of material culture studies – recently asked at universities. It might even become a starting point for co-operation between the different cultures of scholarship.

  • 11 “un classement méthodique des collections […] qui forme une série chronologique ininterrompue”, Ray (...)
  • 12 Antinoé, à la vie, à la mode : visions d’élégance dans les solitudes, Florence Calament, Maximilien (...)

Sara Martinetti. Museum catalogues, in the classical sense of a visual and textual inventory of objects, play a crucial role for university researchers since they constitute a privileged mediation with collections. This relationship with the object is essential for researchers working in the field of material studies. In the history of literature on textiles, some museums publications crystallized a new approach within art history. While many canonical examples come to mind, an unusual book illustrates particularly well the methodological challenges of construing a repertory: L’Art de décorer les textiles [The Art of Decorating Textiles], the first catalogue of the Musée des Tissus in Lyon, published in 1900 by Raymond Cox. The one hundred and twenty nine plates reproduce a selection of textiles that are laid out, as if exhibited, in the space of the page in a sequence, “a methodical organization of collections [...] which forms an uninterrupted chronological series,” explained in an index, and with captions.11 At the same museum, the catalogue Antinoé, à la vie, à la mode: visions d’élégance dans les solitudes [Antinoe, to Life, to Fashion: Visions of Elegance in Solitude] is a remarkable contemporary example of erudition, especially in the approach and study of its corpus and in the writing of technical analyses.12 Though the practice of compilation in catalogues dates from the nineteenth century, databases and, more generally, the digital humanities bring new media and new questions into play.

  • 13 The photographs are published in Seth Siegelaub: Beyond Conceptual Art, Leontine Coelewij, Sara Mar (...)

In this context, the image is central: a textile is documented from the front and back and the scale of the shot is particularly important. In the case of a printed catalogue, it is possible to combine general views of the object, close-ups of the motif, and magnified close-ups that show the interweaving of threads. In digital form, high definition images allow full use of zoom and traveling effects. Working in tandem with Marion Benoit in the photographic studio has enriched my understanding of woven material both as a researcher and a curator: photography offers a different view of the interlacing fibers.13 Since 2012 this artist has been interested in textiles whose complex printing techniques were invented by Orbis Wirth around 1920 and of which she takes greatly magnified close-up pictures. As part of the shoot for the Seth Siegelaub exhibition catalogue at the Stedelijk Museum, Benoit directed her attention to the light (each fiber and each technique produces a special sheen) and to the edges of the pieces (the threads that stick out give away a lot of information on the technique).

Contemporary exhibition catalogues almost systematically include essays that echo the main lines of research at universities. From a theoretical point of view, the concept of materiality, which I have already mentioned, leads the authors to consider the circulation of textiles and their supporting role as motifs and ideas in cultural exchanges. To understand this mobility, the historical discipline needs to include geography, economics, technology, communication, anthropology, etc. The general notion of craft appears rich in as much as it allows us to examine creativity critically, including asking more political questions.

Giorgio Riello. Publications are one of the ways to access museum scholarship, though in recent years digital resources have somewhat changed the ways in which curators, academics, and the public at large can access ideas, information and images. At a research level, what remains very important is the legacy of a century (sometimes even more) of curatorial and object-based research. My own studies on printed cotton textiles would not have been possible without the scholarship that George Percival Baker and Henri Clouzot carried out in the early twentieth century. The Baker collection still forms a substantial part of the V&A European cotton textile collection. Clouzot, a curator at the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, sold his personal collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In the 1960s Peter Floud, John Irwin, and Paul R. Schwartz expanded research to include Indian cottons. Their research was continued in the 1980s and 1990s by leading curators such as Ruth Barnes, Rosemary Crill, John Guy, and Robyn Maxwell. Only a fraction of their scholarship is to be found in catalogues or other museum publications as they also published widely in journals, magazines and through traditional academic publishing. Today, things are more complex as digital tools might be needed to connect curatorial expertise and what is now available through online collections. A couple of years ago I was delighted to produce a pod- cast with Rosemary Crill on an eighteenth-century printed textile that we both found fascinating. This is now downloadable as a podcast and therefore easily usable in the classroom.14 Online applications and publishing will allow crowdsourcing and a freer way to engage with ideas. On the other hand, I am skeptical of claims for a theoretical turn. Anthropology provides some useful conceptual tools in approaching objects but I am resistant to over-conceptualizing materiality. I find that curators are in their element when they are able to reveal, understand, and sometime de-mystify artifacts. When my students come to me invoking Baudrillard or Barthes in their analysis of a piece of eighteenth-century silk, I send them back to the library to read Natalie Rothstein and Lesley E. Miller instead.

Peter McNeil. Clothing is both a material covering and an enclosure for the body that in the west is generally constructed through draping or cutting cloth, or weaving or knitting it to shape. The structure of European dress is also bound up with abstract forms of conduct and beauty, and textiles play a most significant role in promulgating and reformulating aesthetics. The aesthetic and phenomenological dimension of clothing moving in space is also partly due to the possibilities and/or restraints offered by textiles. Cloth and clothing are therefore central to human experience and deserve to be studied in these abstract terms as well as for their technical virtuosity, stylistic advance, and influences, etc.

  • 15 A provincial English woman’s extravagantly illustrated notebook regarding most of her life’s fashio (...)

High quality museum catalogues are indispensable for fashion studies. Yet they are under-represented as core reading material for undergraduates. For eighteenth-century dress, museum catalogues and other publications undoubtedly have helped reshape the field since the 1980s. Facsimile formats – for example, the high-quality photography in the V&A’s Barbara Johnson’s Album, published in 1987 – has been a powerful aid in understanding the visual power and materiality of textile culture.15 The V&A’s “Fashion in Detail” series, although primarily pictorial, opened up a further world of materiality for exploration. The fact that such texts often lack explanatory essays has resulted in their being disregarded by some academics as teaching tools.

Tensions continue to exist between the technical/scientific and social/aesthetic priorities of textile culture. Some dealers, too, are very important – consider the well-researched and illustrated annual catalogues of a private dealer such as Titi Halle/Cora Ginsburg, New York.16 Students require training in how to access such texts as well as long analytical essays. There is something of a schism between theoretical writing on dress (generally not illustrated) and richly illustrated histories – often furnished by the museum sector alongside their exhibition programs. The nature of contemporary publishing is of relevance here: black and white reproductions in books on dress, where color is generally so significant, are bizarre in an age of Instagram for the young.

  • 17 Whistler and Montesquiou: The Butterfly and the Bat, Edgar Munhall, exh. cat. (New York, The Frick (...)

However, high quality color printing remains an expense and often it is the museum or a research institute such as the Abegg Stiftung that is expected to undertake such productions. Over the years there have been a number of museum publications that provide an exemplary mixture of contextual analysis as well as the focus required in building an exhibition around artifacts – an exhibition is not a book on a wall. Edgar Munhall’s fine work at the Frick Museum resulted, for example, in the Butterfly and the Bat, a brilliant work of historical recovery about the Comte de Montesquiou, and focused on one painting by Whistler of a man dressed in black evening wear.17

In the book that accompanied the exhibition, everything from fur to the fine woolens for day and evening suits was explored, including contemporary advertising for some of the archaic products such as chinchilla.

Lesley Miller. Museum scholarship is based around objects in collections. These objects come into museums by various routes, through active collecting determined by institutional policies, through gifts or bequests from donors, and sometimes through serendipitous discoveries. Curators collect both the past and the present for the edification and education of future generations, but necessarily have to make difficult decisions about what can be stored, conserved, and displayed.

In terms of current textile production – art, craft, design, science, and technology – what should be the priorities for the current generation of curators, and in what type of museum context? Are any museums demonstrating a particularly innovative approach to collecting for the future?

  • 18 See, in particular, Birgitt Borkopp-Restle, Der Aachener Kanonikus Franz Bock und seine Textilsamml (...)

Sara Martinetti. Textile collections include objects that are fragments with or without a selvedge (in the case of objects such as carpets or tapestries, the pieces are whole). Revealing the very nature of textile – a surface which is cut and assembled according to a certain use – this condition ontologically determines what constitutes a collection of textiles beyond the status of fine art masterpiece: a sampling of samples from a virtually unlimited production in its effects of weaving, texture, material, color, and design. These gestures and conceptual operations evoke the story of Franz Bock (1823-1899), a canon in Aachen, who was considered a pioneer as a collector, trader, “curator”, and scholar in the field, and who was nicknamed “Scheren-Bock” (Scissors-Bock), because of the method he used to collect textiles, mainly medieval, from different European church treasuries. In his desire to disseminate old models in order to enrich contemporary creation (and deriving economic benefit from the transactions), Bock later sold his different sample collections to decorative arts museums that were building up their own study collection, thus determining the frameworks for understanding of these objects in a fundamental way.18 Today, the task of the curator is to create ensembles with these fragments, like a patchwork that we could permanently reassemble.

To collect contemporary textile production, from whatever area it emerges, anthropological approaches provide methodological keys to the museum curator’s perspective on what constitutes a corpus, on notions of representativeness and series. This approach allows the curators to access the objects’ context, to provide the information gathered in the works’ records, and to expand the history of the museum’s collections that can be included in future efforts in terms of research, study, exhibitions, and publications.

It may be more interesting not to reduce textile collections to textile specimens themselves, but to include other related objects, such as manufacturers’ or dealers’ archives and designers’ and artists’ studio collections. Reactivating the metaphor of the text as textile, the relationship of textiles to the book – account books, design books, plates – opens promising leads. Gathering textiles together with other sources that are related to them within a museum would strengthen its role as a research tool.

  • 19 For example the project “If the Shoe Fits: Footwear, Identity and Transition” at the University of (...)

Giorgio Riello. Any museum collection is the stratification of its past and yet has to respond to new stories and the priorities of today’s visitors. There is also a disjuncture between what people wish to see (in permanent and temporary exhibitions, or more rarely in storage) and what curators and scholars wish to have in a museum collection. A museum’s past influences its future in the sense that coherence is the only winning strategy at a time when acquisition budgets are modest. A few years ago, I was asked to reflect on textile and fashion conservation and I decided to think about what curators in 2115 would like to have in their museum to organize an exhibition on early twenty first-century fashion. I cannot foresee the future – after all I am a historian not an economist – but some general conclusions seem possible. Craft, mass, and masstige are the three categories of today’s fashion-clothing sector. Craft proposes some very exciting examples of creativity across materials and techniques that either exploit or are in opposition to new technologies. Mass-production is the unsung hero of the last fifty years and no one seems interested in collecting old Benetton jumpers or discarded GAP pants. Masstige is instead the new “affordable luxury” produced by Louis Vuitton and the like; it is colonizing the high streets and consuming habits of millions of us. In order to collect this, stronger collaboration with some notoriously un-collaborative luxury brands might be needed. But what is one supposed to do with all this stuff? An ethnographic and anthropological – rather than a historical approach – might be needed. An example dear to me involves sport shoes (sneakers), the classic late twentieth- and early twenty first-century fashion items that integrate new materials (plastics, polyester, and other synthetic materials), fashion, advertising, and some innovative ethnographic research.19 After years of resistance, the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, famous for its footwear collection, has started collecting sports shoes. A lottery grant allowed curator Rebecca Shawcross to acquire 660 pairs of sneakers. This transformed the demographics of museum visitors: no longer ladies in their sixties and seventies but young men in their twenties and thirties. Yet the new collection has presented a series of technical challenges for the museum as well: some of the shoes are in poor state, since their materials are impossible to conserve. They have to be kept separately in order to avoid the noxious gasses that they emit spreading across the museum’s collections. Elizabeth Semmelhack and Ada Hopkins at the Bata Shoe Museum reveal that there is “no ideal option” in the conservation and display of sneakers. They are often put in what is jokingly called “the dead room”, a freezer, waiting to be resurrected at a later stage. Whatever the choice made by curators, I fear that such challenges will be common.

Birgitt Borkopp-Restle. Decisions about what to preserve as part of a museum collection have always been difficult – with regard to individual objects but also, and perhaps even more, when it comes to defining categories: outstanding quality (and what does that mean?) or rather the typical or ordinary (in terms of object group, materiality and production process, or social relevance...)? with a view to filling gaps in the existing collection? only objects that will or might figure in a permanent or contemporary exhibition? or is there storage space available for material that – although hardly appealing for a larger public – might be very interesting for a research project? Only the very big (national?) museums will be able to collect across all these and even more categories. This should not be a problem, however, as long as museums of all sizes and descriptions develop collections with distinct profiles (and avoid what we have seen in design museums over the last thirty years, namely, the presentation of the same chairs, telephones, and espresso machines over and over again), whether they concentrate on clothing and fashion, local or regional industries, aspects of science and technology, contemporary art or other defining categories. Rather than create a wish list for an individual museum, we should probably hope for a diversified museum landscape, in which collections focusing on different aspects of textile production and usage could coexist and complement each other. And in an ideal world, well-considered collecting policies would go hand in hand with a communication system that allowed for referring donors to the museum best suited to the object(s) they wish to give or bequeath to an institution, finding objects that might be of interest for a research or exhibition project, and eventually inviting both museum curators and scholars from universities or other research institutions to discuss them in a variety of contexts. A remark must finally be added with regard to academic researchers: many of them are little acquainted with what museum collections hold or might hold; this accounts for a rather large number of studies concentrating on the same objects already treated in (numerous) existing publications, while a great deal of interesting material goes unnoticed. For museum collections to inspire and feed university research, efforts will probably have to be made on both sides so that the potential of (groups of) objects can be fully understood and valued.

  • 20 Arjun Appadurai, The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Cambridge/ New Yor (...)
  • 21 Palmer’s award winning exhibition was called “Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting” (Toronto, (...)

Peter McNeil. Museums – their storerooms now full of artifacts – are taking stock and assessing the areas in which they should collect. Museums make their own strategies, working generally from an existing strength or an opportunity. Few now attempt to be encyclopedic and each is aware of what the other is doing. New experimental textiles pose all manner of conservation challenges as well as the judgments required in assessing what will be significant in the future for understanding the past. 3- and 4D printing are current tools of practice that museums have begun to collect. Dr. Alexandra Palmer at the Royal Ontario Museum has taken a particular approach to building the collection there. The ROM has a fine collection of printed textiles that was built up from the late nineteenth century. As well as building up the collection in historical areas where the museum already possesses depth she has acquired a significant group of men’s banyans that illuminate their connections with the non-western material in the collection, building on previous curators’ interest in design innovation, cut, and fit. She also has a collecting policy to acquire men’s and women’s fashion from the wardrobes of contemporary citizens. Some of the men are black, or gay/queer, some of the women are professional and/or literary figures, etc., and this creates an important opportunity to further consider how dress is a tool in creating a social identity. In what is known by some as wardrobe studies, the focus is on provenance and the “object biographies”20 (to use A. Appadurai’s term) that become possible when a great deal is known regarding the identity of wearers and how they actually wore garments, as opposed to how the clothes looked on a runway or in advertising. In this way Palmer has built up collections of everything from Versace silk shirts – emblematic of 1980s-early 1990s resort wear for the well-to-do – to Japanese high fashion by designers such as Issey Miyake and Comme des Garçons, as well as Martin Margiela. The reticence of certain couture houses to permit any reproduction of their clothes made in multiples of under fifty poses particular challenges for research publication. Palmer has also engaged with dress and disability in a thoughtful manner, an area in which a doctoral thesis has also been written by Elizabeth Heyman at the University of Technology, Sydney.21

Museum curators both influence and are influenced by new developments in the field of dress, textile and fashion studies that take place amidst the humanities, social, and technological sciences generally. Economic history from the post-war period argued that fashion, and the textiles that make fashions possible, represent an under-studied aspect of both important cultural endeavor and enormous financial investment from family units as well as states. The group around the Pasold Research Fund, for example, asked why does fashion not appear in standard histories and social histories as a matter of course? They set out to change this state of affairs and now celebrate an important fifty-year anniversary of research and publishing.22

  • 23 Roland Barthes, The Fashion System (Paris, 1967), Matthew Ward, Richard Howard (eng. transl.), New  (...)

Roland Barthes’ influential concept of the “fashion system”23 privileged the discursive and representational registers over materiality. The latter tended to be viewed by some as the province of the textile scientist on the academic end of the spectrum, or the connoisseur on the other. In something of an irony, at precisely the same time as Barthes’ study of fashion, there arose a counter-culture of dressing and collecting, conducted largely by self-taught amateurs. The two polarities are not connected at the moment, as they are seen as antithetical by most academics.

In North America, continental Europe, the United Kingdom and Australia, literary theory, theatre and performance studies have yielded influential models of reading fashion as a cultural practice and as an embodied experience. Significant research about fashion also takes place around the world within sociology, urban geography, material culture, theories of memory, and labor history. All of these approaches have seen uptake in museums, including the important dimension of textile production: the source of profits for some and misery for others. As more and more strain is placed on our poor planet, more people also ask questions about the ethics of fashion consumption. Fashion is often associated with rampant consumerism, but fashion has also been identified as a powerful agent and vector for effecting social change. Ideas about ethical behavior can be integrated into textile design and fashion clothing if the designers of the future have the will. Museums have an important role to play in creatively suggesting such possibilities, as in the Museum of Modern Art’s recent exhibition curated by Paola Antonelli, “This is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good” (2015-2016) – in which the 4D design by Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg was included. Being very clear about why “fashion matters” from a multi-facetted perspective – cultural, social, ethical, practice-based, and material – is important for its dignity as a part of any humanist agenda and its socio-cultural development in our own time.

  • 24 Adrienne D. Hood, “Material Culture: The Object”, in Sarah Barber, Corinna M. Peniston-Bird (eds.), (...)
  • 25 Jessica Hemmings (ed.), The Textile Reader, New York, 2012.

Lesley Miller. Historians who advocate the inclusion of objects in the arsenal of sources used by their peers note the importance of engaging physically with objects, “touching, handling, smelling and listening” to them.24 In similar vein, textile practitioners and writers focus on sensory experience. A recently published textile reader, for example, foregrounds “Touch” and “Memory” alongside “Structure”, “Politics”, “Production”, and “Use” as ways of writing about and understanding textiles.25 As repositories of historical textiles, museums may find providing objects for such physical engagement challenging as their responsibility is to preserve the objects in their care for future generations.

Do the objects in museums actually lend themselves to this kind of physical engagement, and if so, how might museums cater to such engagement without risking the survival of the collections under their stewardship, whilst contributing to current fashions in scholarship around the haptic and emotional qualities of textiles, as well as continuing a long-established tradition in developing connoisseurship?

Peter McNeil. All exhibitions are ephemeral multi-sensory experiences and, without a durable record such as a catalogue or online presence, their effect and impact remains so – ephemeral. This is a particular issue with decorative arts, fashion and textile exhibits as many of the artifacts exhibited do not already exist in other forms of reproduction, to an extent not experienced by painting, sculpture, etc., forms that are better valorized by both the marketplace and existing museum systems. Digital presentations can play an important role in foregrounding the haptic and emotional qualities of artifacts – whether it be in the ability to look at all the pages of an album, or to expand the details of thread or embroidery – but the downside of a digital presence is that scale is lost, as well as relative hues etc., unless the project is extremely well managed. Digital work in the museum takes many times as long as conventional work and is rarely supported by appropriate staffing levels; many museums are shedding staff and eroding the integrity of curators’ voices as principal actors in the museum system (consider also the absurd idea of closing the highly significant Musée des Tissus in Lyon at the moment). There is great potential for cross-disciplinary possibilities to be explored by many museums now, as well as for exploring the affective and socio-cultural nature of textile culture. These include gift exchange, the idea of textile practice as a type of woman’s voice, and the relationship of textiles to broader print culture and the history of ideas.

Fashion can be conceptualized as a form of knowledge: one requires knowledge of what is in fashion to be a participant. Such knowledge can be derived from a great many sources. The rise of the intensity of participation in fashion over the course of the eighteenth century is inexorably tied to the world of print. Print is not confined to printed books, engravings and the like, but to an expanded field of print, including printed textiles, ceramics, and glass painted and modeled after ceramics, and even inlaid furniture. Print was never passive, but was transformed in creative acts of collecting, re-combination, coloring, and translation into new formats as “dressed prints” with the addition of textiles and other media. The translation across media permitted a very wide circulation of fashion meanings, including possible distortions and creative re-combinations. This is not simply a matter of fashion ideas and models in a sense of a Barthesian sign system. Fashion began a process of representation that was more commercialized, marked early in the eighteenth century by the development of the printed almanac and at mid-century by the everyday pocket-book and a burgeoning range of periodical publications. These were concrete actions in which scale, texture, color, and the variety of the artifacts emphasized the multi-facetted nature of fashion information.

  • 26 Beverly Lemire, Giorgio Riello, “East & West: Textiles and Fashion in Early Modern Europe,” in Jour (...)

Consider one example. We can extend the relationship of textiles and printed forms more broadly still, even to luxury furniture. A mechanical table by Jean-François Œben in the collection of the Musée Cognacq-Jay in Paris was inlaid to directly recall an Indian printed chintz textile. What a statement of fashionability, a mechanical table that looked like the clothes one was wearing. The woods were once brightly colored before fading. Eighteenth century chintz has been re-interpreted by Beverly Lemire and Giorgio Riello as a form of information or print culture that could be “read” and therefore contributed to the burgeoning impacts of fashion.26 The very effect of indienne, in which dark tones frequently outline petals and stems, was highly valued as a fashion in itself. As the trade in such cottons was banned from 1686 to 1759 (in England from 1701 to 1774), such a table was a very modish innovation. Dress is not just a material matter of cutting and forming something derived generally from textiles, but also a cultural idea and a social process. And textiles remain the basis of most clothing.

Birgitt Borkopp-Restle. As the sensory qualities of textiles – crisp linen, soft wool, lustrous silk come to mind – have played an important role in the appeal they held (and still hold) for artists, patrons and consumers, it seems appropriate that historians, art historians and scholars of other disciplines who wish to discuss choices and preferences with regard to different textile materials, their status and economic value or other related questions, should develop an understanding of these qualities. Likewise, they should also know about other characteristics of textiles that are not immediately obvious from sight or touch, but perhaps equally important for their desirability: how fine can certain fibers be spun? How do they react to dyeing? Are they washable? And, if we talk about historic textiles: specific uses of textile objects, but also alterations (the adaptation of a dress to a new wearer or a new fashion), or even their preservation in certain environments (folded in a drawer; on a body in a grave) leave characteristic traces that scholars wishing to discuss an “object biography” must learn to read.

All these aspects seem to speak in favor of a hands-on approach; it is not necessary, however, to repeat this approach with every individual object: (young) scholars can learn a great deal from handling objects in a study collection that also contains modern and less rare or valuable materials. In order to turn this experience into a competence, they should be encouraged to verbalize their observations and discuss possible deductions. Museum curators and conservators can have a decisive role in this process: watching them handle an object, learning what they see and how they interpret their observations, will train scholars to notice characteristics or unusual features in an object, understand marks and traces and eventually learn to read textiles. This also extends to the relation between original textiles and photographs or other visuals: only from repeated and considered comparisons between textile objects and their visual documentation can one learn what the latter actually translates, for which kinds of questions it does or does not provide sufficient information.

If museums preserve textiles for future generations – and this must also include future research – the handling of objects should probably be limited to well-prepared studies, in which answers to precisely defined questions could not otherwise be obtained, but museums can and should have an important role in the training of scholars for such studies.

Sara Martinetti. Textiles’ materiality is a central issue as conceived in a practical way by museums and theoretically by academics. The tactility of textiles and the conservation modalities for these very fragile items are in conflict and museums’ responses in terms of display have often been literal: multiplying protective barriers while at the same time installing devices thanks to which the viewer can touch the samples. Alongside the material turn in critical thought, new types of displays have recently been developed as a hybrid mix of the museum and research environment, by means of a laboratory format. The hanging of “Unrolled and Unravelled: New Views of the Indonesian Textiles Collection,” within the Labor of the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt in 2014, presented for a few weeks a selection of Indonesian textiles and looms illustrating several techniques of weaving and printing. Unlike in conventional museum showcases, the objects were not protected by glass, but were simply placed on study tables and hung on supports, conceived by designer Mathis Esterhazy to be fully adjustable, removable and mobile, and manufactured out of conservation-quality materials. As a result, the curator, the researcher and the visitor were placed on an almost equal footing. This exhibition offered conditions for direct observation and study, such as looking closely at a particular textile or examining a set of harmonious or dissonant objects together.

  • 27 Tim Ingold, “The Textility of Making,” in Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34, 1, 2010, p. 91-102, o (...)

To broaden this answer concerning museological solutions related to display in the direction of research perspectives, the complexity of textile material must be emphasized. This concerns the nature of the materials, but also their shaping – especially in the case of velvet, which is particularly sophisticated and extravagant – and is more likely to include color, the effects of volume, density, drapery, light, etc. In the case of archaeological textiles, the approach may be even more precise and refined: dust and other stains on woven fragments contain valuable information that, through laboratory analysis, allows us to reconstruct methods of production and use of textiles in societies no longer extant. In addition, the border between the woven textiles and nonwoven fabrics appears as an axis of fruitful research in as much as it intersects museums’ technical analyses with historical and theoretical tools. A research trip to Fiji in 2013 to observe and learn the making of bark cloth in order to expand on the descriptions given in publications by specialists such as Simon Kooijman, allowed me to handle plant fibers uncommon in Europe and to understand the process of their transformation by the mechanical action of a beater and moisture (close to the effect of felting). More generally, historically contextualizing the relationship between bark cloth and textile highlights the existence of the paradigm woven/nonwoven and questions the fundamental definitions of textile: in Oceania where, before the arrival of Europeans in the eighteenth century, weaving with a warp and a weft did not exist (with the notable exception of the Banks and Caroline islands), bark cloth, whose production was apparently derived from Chinese paper techniques, gave birth to a unique conception of surface. Following this perspective of redefining the basic notion of weaving, but from different examples, some researchers, including the anthropologist Tim Ingold have proposed the term “textility” which could allow a consideration of the woven and non-woven fabrics together rather than in opposition.27

Giorgio Riello. Curators’ nightmares surely include dreams with scholars weeping over delicate taffeta or touching lace with their ink-stained fingers. I put it jokingly, but one can see how the rise of material culture has created enormous pressure on museums to allow not just access to their collections, but a direct engagement with artifacts though handling and close scrutiny. All of this happens at a time in which museum personnel and resources are scarce. These strains are compounded by the fact that the type of engagement that researchers require is based on a series of new concepts that involve a search for emotional and emotive aspects of material culture through the senses. Touch is clearly very important and object handling is perceived as a must if one has to attempt to recover any deep meaning from the object itself. Emotions and senses seem to overlap. For instance the word “touching” in English expresses both a physical and haptic function, and a feeling or emotion. The haptic has become a fashionable dimension of research just at the time in which unprecedented digital resources satisfy the visual need for material culture. Many large museums are now presenting the bulk of their collections online. These large websites are not perfect but they allow easy access to collections across the world. Clearly, this is no substitute for the direct, physical engagement with the object though, for the first time, the web allows us to crisscross collections as for instance for the case of Europeana.28 Yet, what one can see instead is a tendency to what I call intensive rather than extensive research. I am often amazed by the fact that specific artifacts are scrutinized in detail, sometimes without asking if they are unique or not, if there are other similar objects in the same or in other collections. Textiles, in particular, are difficult to subject to such intensive research because of their fragility, size and, indeed, materiality. As the Director of the Pasold Research Fund, I have also noticed a new trend. In recent years the Fund has received a number of applications that wish to go beyond the simply haptic and ask for historical studies of textiles that use invasive scientific techniques. It is revealing that such applications rarely come from scientists.

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Notes

1 See the website of the exhibition: http://www.threadsoffeeling.com/.

2 Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity,” Paris, Musée d’Orsay; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Chicago, The Art Institute, 2012-2013, curated by Gloria Groom, being a fine example.

3 Charles James: Beyond Fashion,” New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014, curated by Harold Koda and Jan Glier Reeder.

4 On this point see the arguments contained in Double-Face: The Story about Fashion and Art from Mohammed to Warhol, Christoph Doswald (ed), exh. cat. (Saint-Galle, Kunstmuseum, 2006-2007), Zurich, 2006.

5 See the exhibition catalogue: The Stuff That Matters. Textiles collected by Seth Siegelaub for the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles (CSROT), Sara Martinetti, Alice Motard, Alex Sainsbury (eds.), exh. cat. (London, Raven Row, 2012), London, 2012; and the article, Sara Martinetti, Alice Motard, Alex Sainsbury, “Curating Textiles,” in Janis Jefferies, Hazel Clark, Diana Wood Conroy (eds.), The Handbook of Textile Culture, London, 2016, p. 35-50.

6 Seth Siegelaub, “Notes Towards a Critical History of the Literature of Textiles,” in Bibliographica Textilia Historiæ. Towards a General Bibliography on the History of Textiles Based on the Library and Archives of the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles, New York, 1997, p. 16.

7 “Je cherche actuellement les moyens de vous faire parvenir quelques livres assez curieux qu’on m’a envoyés de Hollande. Le commerce des pensées est un peu interrompu en France. On dit même qu’il n’est pas permis d’envoyer des idées de Lyon à Paris. On saisit les manufactures de l’esprit humain comme des étoffes défendues”, Voltaire, “Letter no. 8660. To Jean-Baptiste-Jacques Élie de Beaumont” [1765], in Voltaire, Correspondance, VII. Janvier 1763 – mars 1765, Theodore Besterman (ed.), Paris, 1982, p. 1001 [translation by Boris Kremer].

8 A successful exhibition is here understood as one that attracts a large number of visitors; certainly this is not the only kind of success with which a museum exhibition could or should be credited – the amount of time that a visitor spends in an exhibition or looking at an individual object could also be an indicator of success as could, on a different level, reactions from colleagues both from other museums and from universities.

9 Claire Wilcox, Valerie Mendes (eds.), Modern Fashion in Detail, London, 1991; Avril Hart, Susan North (eds.), Historical Fashion in Detail: the 17th and 18th Centuries, London, 1998; Rosemary Crill, Jennifer Wearden, Verity Wilson, Details of Dress from Around the World, London, 2002; Lucy Johnston (ed.), 19th Century Fashion in Detail, London, 2005.

10 Jouer la lumière, Jean-Paul Leclercq (ed.), exh. cat. (Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs, Musée de la Mode et du Textile, 2001-2002), Paris, 2001.

11 “un classement méthodique des collections […] qui forme une série chronologique ininterrompue”, Raymond Cox, “Introduction,” in L’Art de décorer les tissus d’après les collections du Musée Historique de la Chambre de Commerce de Lyon, Paris/Lyon, 1900.

12 Antinoé, à la vie, à la mode : visions d’élégance dans les solitudes, Florence Calament, Maximilien Durand (eds.), exh. cat. (Lyon, Musée des Tissus, 2013-2014), Lyon, 2013.

13 The photographs are published in Seth Siegelaub: Beyond Conceptual Art, Leontine Coelewij, Sara Martinetti (eds.), exh. cat. (Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, 2015-2016), Amsterdam/Cologne, 2015.

14 Global Material Culture, Prof Giorgio Riello and Dr Rosemary Crill, online: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/podcasts/upload/?podcastItem=indian_mordant_and_resist_dyed_cloth.mp3.

15 A provincial English woman’s extravagantly illustrated notebook regarding most of her life’s fashion purchases from 1746-1823, about 120 samples of which 54 are silk, 37 cotton and other linen and other mixes. See Natalie Rothstein (ed.), A Lady of Fashion: Barbara Johnson’s Album of Styles and Fabrics, London, 1987.

16 See http://coraginsburg.com/gallery.htm.

17 Whistler and Montesquiou: The Butterfly and the Bat, Edgar Munhall, exh. cat. (New York, The Frick Collection, 1995-1996), New York/Paris, 1995.

18 See, in particular, Birgitt Borkopp-Restle, Der Aachener Kanonikus Franz Bock und seine Textilsammlungen: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Kunstgewerbe im 19. Jahrhundert, Riggisberg, 2008.

19 For example the project “If the Shoe Fits: Footwear, Identity and Transition” at the University of Sheffield, carried out by Jenny Hockey, Victoria Robinson, Rachel Dilley and Alexandra Sherlock. See http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/iftheshoefits/home-page.

20 Arjun Appadurai, The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Cambridge/ New York, 1986.

21 Palmer’s award winning exhibition was called “Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting” (Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, 2014-2015).

22 See http://www.pasold.co.uk/index.

23 Roland Barthes, The Fashion System (Paris, 1967), Matthew Ward, Richard Howard (eng. transl.), New York, 1983.

24 Adrienne D. Hood, “Material Culture: The Object”, in Sarah Barber, Corinna M. Peniston-Bird (eds.), History Beyond the Text: A Student’s Guide to Approaching Alternative Sources, London/ New York, 2009, p. 176-198, p. 180.

25 Jessica Hemmings (ed.), The Textile Reader, New York, 2012.

26 Beverly Lemire, Giorgio Riello, “East & West: Textiles and Fashion in Early Modern Europe,” in Journal of Social History, 41, 4, 2008, p. 887-916.

27 Tim Ingold, “The Textility of Making,” in Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34, 1, 2010, p. 91-102, online: http://cje.oxfordjournals.org/content/34/1/91.full (viewed on 21/04/2016).

28 See http://www.europeanafashion.eu/portal/home.html.

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Birgitt Borkopp-Restle, Peter McNeil, Sara Martinetti, Lesley Miller et Giorgio Riello, « Museums and the Making of Textile Histories: Past, Present, and Future », Perspective, 1 | 2016, 43-60.

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Birgitt Borkopp-Restle, Peter McNeil, Sara Martinetti, Lesley Miller et Giorgio Riello, « Museums and the Making of Textile Histories: Past, Present, and Future », Perspective [En ligne], 1 | 2016, mis en ligne le 31 décembre 2016, consulté le 27 juillet 2017. URL : http://perspective.revues.org/6297 ; DOI : 10.4000/perspective.6297

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Auteurs

Birgitt Borkopp-Restle

Birgitt Borkopp-Restle was appointed Professor for the History of Textile Arts (Abegg Stiftungsprofessur) at the Institute of Art History, Bern University (Switzerland) after a museum career (curator of the Department of textiles and costume at the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich, 1993-2005, and a post as director of the Museum of Applied Arts in Cologne, 2005-2008). Her main subjects of research are medieval and early modern textiles, the role of textiles in court ceremony and representation, the history of collecting, and the exchange between the Orient and the West between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.
She is President of CIETA.

Peter McNeil

Peter McNeil is Professor of Design History at the University of Technology, Sydney, Distinguished Professor, Aalto University, Helsinki, and Professor of Fashion Studies at Stockholm University. His most recent publications are: Fashion Writing and Criticism (London, 2014) with Sanda Miller; Luxury: A Rich History (Oxford, 2016), with Giorgio Riello; and Pretty Gentleman: Macaroni Men and the 18th-century Fashion World (New Haven/ London, forthcoming)

Sara Martinetti

Sara Martinetti is a researcher and a curator whose work crosses the anthropology of writing and the history of art and creativity. A PhD candidate at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales since 2012 and a research assistant fellow at the INHA from 2012 to 2016, her dissertation considers all aspects of Seth Siegelaub’s career as a pioneer of American conceptual art, a bibliographer and a collector of textiles. She has curated two exhibitions about his work and collections (London, Raven Row, 2012; Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, 2015-2016), and published an exhibition catalogue and an anthology (Cologne, 2015 and 2016).

Lesley Miller

Lesley Miller is Acting Keeper of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor of Dress and Textile History at the University of Glasgow. Between 2010 and 2015, she was Lead Curator for the renovation of the Europe 1600-1815 Galleries at the Museum. She has published extensively on design and commerce in silk manufacturing in 18th century France. Her most recent book is Selling Silks. A Merchant’s Sample Book of 1764 (London, 2014) and she is currently revising Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1895-1972. The Couturier’s Couturier (London, forthcoming 2017).

Giorgio Riello

Giorgio Riello is Professor of Global History and Culture and Director of the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Warwick. He is the author of A Foot in the Past (Oxford/New York, 2006) and Cotton: The Fabric that Made the Modern World (Cambridge/ New York, 2013) and has published extensively on the history of fashion, design and consumption in early modern Europe and Asia. He is the co-editor of Shoes (2006);Global Design History (2011), and Writing Material Culture History (2014) and several other volumes. Between 2013 and 2015 he was the coordinator of the Leverhulme-funded “The Luxury Network”, a collaboration between Warwick, the V&A, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, and the universities of Bologna, Stockholm, and Melbourne. His most recent book, entitled Luxury: A Rich History, was co-authored with Peter McNeil (Oxford, 2016).

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