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MA Fashion Curation students: 'Reconstruction of Memory':

green dress installation in vitrine
  • Written byChloe Gilbert, Iona Croskell and Muyan Yan
  • Published date 18 October 2021
green dress installation in vitrine


In September, MA Fashion Curation students Chloe Gilbert, Iona Croskell and Muyan Yan worked on second installation of the LCF vitrine at John Prince's Street exploring how nostalgia and memory of clothing can reconstruct ideas of our past identities. This is the story of that installation:

"Through our vitrine display we set out to explore how nostalgia and memory of clothing can reconstruct ideas of our past identities.

We wanted to explore the idea of nostalgia and holding onto items as they have a significant memory, or pivotal role in our lives. We set out to challenge the museum convention of typically displaying garments that are restored or pristine, by displaying hand-sewn 1920s dress that has visible signs of wear and tear. This dress has its own biography and reconstructed purpose.

student holding text transfer against glass

We pose the questions; how much of our memories are personal reconstructions, and how does this change our perception of our past identities? #lcfvitrine #reconstructionofmemory

One of the most important decisions we had to make for our display was whether we were going to leave the narrative of the dress owner open to interpretation, or if we were going to create one for her.

We took observations of the dress and reflected, trying to interpret any information we could to inform this decision.

It didn’t feel right making broad assumptions and creating a fictional narrative around the wearer’s life with so little information on the origin of the dress. Instead, we researched more into what setting the dress may have been worn in to create a suitable context for the dress. We were then led to photo albums and memory boxes, and how they could act as an insight to someone's life. #lcfvitrine #reconstructionofmemory

After initially observing and reflecting on the 1920s day dress, we decided that using a quote or question on the vitrine was more suitable than an a standard traditional display caption, given the minimal amount of information we had on the dress. We felt a typical exhibition caption was not necessary for our display, and wanted to leave interpretation open to viewers to a degree.

Instead, we decided on using the quote, “These stains, holes and frays are evidence of our existence, imbedded in fabric which will likely outlive the wearer” (Cyana Madsen, Requiem: Material/Memory: 2019) on the glass. This quote ties in with our curatorial statement, as well as the question we are proposing of once owners have passed, how much do garments work to be a reminder of a life once lived?

installation of vitrine

Although we didn’t want to include an explicit caption about the wearer or the garment itself, we decided it would be appropriate to use a smaller caption inside the vitrine, to draw the viewer's attention to and highlight the wear and signs of life on the dress. We have included the following caption for this purpose;

“Although typically unconventional, displaying a garment with wear, tear and stains gives a sense of a life lived. One starts to reflect on the wearer’s past, and how the garment may have been reconstructed in it’s passing down of generations. These signs of life encourage us to reflect on our past identities.”

#lcfvitrine #reconstructionofmemory

The @LCF_Vitrine Instagram page can be found here. Please follow for updates and for a deeper look into the unseen research and development processes of the Jacket of Wishes installation, as well as future installations.