Spotlight on LCF’s Special Collections, June 2022
LCF Special Collections contain rare, historical and contemporary printed publications covering fashion, costume, and related subjects. The collections comprise of items that are considered to be special because of their age, rarity, provenance, association, and/or financial value, and they can be used as historical and contemporary sources.
In the first of an ongoing series, 'Spotlight on LCF Special Collections' take a look at the hidden treasures in the collections and introduce you to the various different collections held within LCF's Library.
This is one of the oldest books held in LCF Special Collections and was published around 1825. This book comprises of 191 beautifully illustrated fashion plates taken from a fashion journal called the Journal des Modes which was one of the first French illustrated fashion magazines. It was created in 1797 by the abbe de la Mesangere. Its plates were re-issued in annual volumes entitled 'Costumes parisiens de la fin du 18e siecle et du commencement du 19e (Parisian costumes from the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century)' and above is a plate from one of the four volumes held by LCF Special Collections. Journal des Modes ceased publication in 1839 and by that time it had absorbed eight other fashion magazines.
Visionaire 50: Artist’s Toys
Visionaire is a multi-format publication that began in 1991 by a group of friends who were not able to get their fashion designs published in traditional fashion magazines such as Vogue. Consequently, they created their own publication and named it Visionaire. Each issue pushes the boundaries of creativity and is not a “publication” in the traditional sense but is often a unique hybrid of magazine, book and art object. Visionaire collaborates with fashion designers, artists, photographers, musicians, and filmmakers to create each issue. There are sixty-nine issues in total and issues are limited edition and highly collectable. LCF Special Collections holds the entire collection of Visionaires.
Each issue is unique and focuses on a different idea or theme and for issue 50, Visionaire imagined a set of toys as animal companions to the designer figurines from issues 44 and 45. Consisting of elaborate nesting dolls silk-screened in designs by artists like Alex Katz, R. Crumb, and Tim Noble and Sue Webster (whose creation glows in the dark!), ARTIST TOYS came complete with playful accessories like ears, antlers, and horns. “The toy project was sweet on the outside and charming on the inside.” says artist Rob Pruitt. “I simply tacked Winston Churchill’s great quote (‘A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’) to it, decorated the surface with images of my beloved panda, and crossed my fingers that it would provoke the person playing with it to ponder our collective fascination with this beautiful, threatened creature. Was ARTIST TOYS a magazine? A multiple? Art or commerce? Many debated whether Visionaire was any longer even a publication — which must have been the goal all along.” [visionaireworld.com]
A little book of Chanel
A zine, short for fan magazine or fanzine, is a self-published, non-profit publication that is free from the controls of normal publishing.
Their origins can be traced to sci-fi fan magazines in 1940s in the United States and then 1970s punk culture in the United Kingdom. Today, the fan element is not so key and there are no rules about what they can be about or how they can look.
The Fashion Zine collection in LCF Special Collections dates from early 2000 and explores every aspect of fashion including dress and costume, the sociology of fashion, body image and identity, gender politics, hair and make-up, subcultures, and diversity.
This zine is A little book of Chanel byDulcimer Draws and it is the smallest item held in LCF Special Collections. It is 5cm high and lives inside a glittery matchbox.
Here the author explains what influenced them to make it; "Last year I set myself the challenge of drawing all 65 looks in the Chanel Autumn/Winter 2017 couture show - as you do! And what do you do with 65 fashion sketches?! Select 8 of the best and use them to create The Little Book of Chanel!."
Rave ephemera collection
This is a collection of rave ephemera from the year 1996 and it was collected by Caroline Cox, former professor of Fashion History at LCF. The collection comprises of two archive boxes containing newspaper clippings, articles, pamphlets, flyers, promotional materials, photographs, correspondence and writings on raves and the rave scene.
The collection is a fascinating insight into the rave subculture in the UK during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Some of the contents of the collection are dated and can be referenced but much of the collection is interspersed with flyers and photographs of unknown ravers at unknown raves by unknown photographers. Not knowing these answers presents us with the opportunity to wonder about this subculture and those who participated in it at that time.
There are many definitions of what an Artist’s Book is but the most succinct definition is where an individual uses the book as a medium for self-expression. Artist’s Books are created by a wide range of creative practitioners including fine artists, book artists, illustrators, writers, poets, typographers and printers.
Artist’s Books originated in France in the early 20th century as the livre d'artisteis. This is a form of deluxe special edition of a pre-existing text, where the illustrations derive from a source created by the artist themselves rather than from a source created by a technician from the artist's designs. The 1950s and 1960s saw the foundation of the contemporary artist book genre, whereby artists started creating books that were unique artwork in their own right. Their popularity has since continued to grow until the present day.
This image is taken from Anansi Tales which is an Artist Book created by Hormazd Narielwalla. Hormazd completed his PhD at LCF in 2011 and he creates artworks and Artist’s Books often using old tailoring patterns.
In Anasi Tales, Hormazd uses bespoke suit tailoring patterns from the tailors Dege and Skinner to rewrite the history of Western tailoring, taking the suit back to its component parts, and honouring its original form: the robe. Anansi Tales appeared at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in 2021.
Each page of the book is a cut out of an original bespoke tailoring pattern on which the images are first inkjet printed. The tailor's imprint of chalk marks, lines, darts, and other markings become an integral part of the image. A response to these and the image is made by further cutting sections and under-layering with coloured paper and acetate or adhering new material over the image to create original cut out illustrations.
London Fashion Week Invitations
This is a collection of 70 invitations and tickets to various Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion shows that took place during London Fashion Week in February 2014. Fashion designers include Anya Hindmarch, Giles Deacon, Amanda Wakeley, Matthew Williamson and many more. It was donated to London College of Fashion Library by GLAMOUR magazine in April 2014.
Written by Elizabeth Higgs, Special Collections Librarian at LCF.