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Collaborating with Chertsey Museum: bringing a slice of fashion history to life

Person in a black dress
  • Written byK. Apeagyei
  • Published date 09 May 2023
Person in a black dress
Credit: Freestyle Photography UK

Fashion and history have always gone hand in hand, with fashion often reflecting the social, cultural and political changes of a given era. Recently, a group of students from Pattern and Garment Technology and Fashion Curation disciplines collaborated with Chertsey Museum to bring a slice of fashion history to life. They undertook an ambitious project to recreate a 1930s dress from the museum's archives, as well as curate a display to showcase the dress as part of the museum's 'Styled Bodies' exhibition. We spoke with the students about their experiences designing for the brief, the challenges they faced, and the surprises they encountered along the way. We also hear from the project lead, Susanne Baldwin, and the Keeper of Costume at Chertsey Museum, Grace Evans, who provide their perspectives on the collaboration and the outcome.

Hi students! Tell us about your collaboration with Chertsey Museum

Our collaboration with the Chertsey Museum was an exciting opportunity for us to work together towards a shared outcome. We recreated a 1930s dress from the museum's archive and curated a display to be included alongside the 'Styled Bodies' exhibition. This project came to life through the collaboration of Susanne Baldwin and Grace Evans for LCF’s Collaborative Challenge module.

Large display case
Credit: Susan Gardner

What did you enjoy about designing for the brief?

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this project was working as part of a team towards a common goal. Collaborating with students from different disciplines allowed us to broaden our knowledge and learn new skills. We had to pay attention to detail, historical accuracy, and creativity to recreate the dress, which was an exciting challenge. To understand the manufacturing methods and sewing techniques used in the 1930s, we conducted research, experimentation, and sampling to explore how various components of the dress were connected. The curation team enjoyed mapping out the display, with the freedom to express a curation narrative and practice materialising ideas in a specific place and space.

Two people mounting cuttings to a mannequin
Credit: Susanne Baldwin

Did you learn anything which surprised you?

Yes, we did learn a lot during this project. The collaboration taught us the importance of effective communication and teamwork in achieving a successful outcome. We had to manage our time efficiently and combine our individual experiences to complete the project within the required timeframe. We were surprised by how long the process took to get rights to showcase images from the LCF archive, but we found alternative solutions. We realised that having a good collaborative atmosphere was key to a successful team.

People measuring fabric
Credit: Susan Gardner

Susanne Baldwin, Associate Lecturer from London College of Fashion, said, "The student group excelled with this collaborative opportunity, showing excellent teamwork and cohesion in planning the project to respond to the brief in more ways than we anticipated, given the timescale of the project. The outcome is a stimulating combination of physical and digital work which has been expertly executed and displayed, showing the team's range of technical and curatorial skills."

Grace Evans, Keeper of Costume at Chertsey Museum, said, "The project was an ambitious one given the short timeframe, but the students worked brilliantly as a team to achieve a highly successful outcome. The display they created greatly enhances visitors' understanding of bias-cut garments from the 1930s and beautifully complements our exhibition 'Styled Bodies – Fashions of the 1930s.' I was particularly impressed by the way in which the group worked so effectively and harmoniously."

The collaboration between London College of Fashion students and Chertsey Museum was a success. The students learned new skills and worked collaboratively to recreate a dress from the 1930s and curate a display. The result was a stimulating combination of physical and digital work, which beautifully complemented the museum's exhibition. We look forward to seeing more collaborative projects in the future!

Participating students:

  • Eva Yin
  • Laura Krawczyk
  • Lucie Shilton
  • Serena Gupta
  • Susie Gardner
  • Yuanhao Xu