Welcome to LCF Library’s Special Collections monthly blog postings in which we will be blogging about our Special Collections displays or our interviews with some zine creators who have contributed to our zine collection.
Fashion is all about change. What is coming into fashion and what is ‘last season’ is familiar to all of us. Equally we all know that the newest fashion draws inspiration from the past and we often find echoes of past decades in what is what is sweeping the catwalks. This use of the past doesn’t just exist in the memories of fashionistas but has to be recorded, stored and made accessible. That is what LCF Special Collections does.
What does LCF Special Collections contain?
LCF Special Collections contain a number of distinct collections about the different aspects of fashion. They contain rare and historical books about fashion, dress and costume, as well as old fashion journals, fashion zines and Visionaires. The collection also holds PhD theses written by LCF research students as well as publications by LCF staff. Items in LCF Special Collections can range from the nineteenth century to the present day, from small pamphlets to huge artefacts such as Vivienne Westwood’s “Active Resistance” which requires two members of staff to lift it!
An important aspect of the items in the Special Collection is their capacity to tell a story about fashion as well as provide an insight into the wider society of the time when they were written or collected. A good example found in the LCF Special Collections are the many volumes published by the Tailor and Cutter Academy which published books and journals covering all aspects of bespoke tailoring. It is interesting to note that with the exception of perhaps a couple of books, there is very limited coverage of women’s tailoring or tailoring directly connected to the lives of working people.
History can also be more recent. In the 1990s before the emergence of the internet a group of friends collaborated to create what they called Visionaires because they were frustrated that their designs were not being published in fashion magazines. As a consequence they decided to set up their own fashion magazine. Visionaires still continues to be publish and has a total of 64 issues. The issues have evolved from a fashion magazine format to limited edition art objects in themselves with their own collectability and value. These are available to view through from LCF Special Collections.
How to find and access these great items:
All Special Collections are listed on the UAL library catalogue so when you have identified the item you are interested in you should complete a Special Collections Request form available from the Information Desk at LCF library. The items are not stored in the main library but have to come from our stores so library staff will fetch the items for you at the advertised times (10am and 3pm Monday – Friday, 12 noon on Saturdays and 1pm on Sundays during term time) and after 30 minutes you will be able to view the item. You can order two items at a time. Happy browsing.
LCF Special Collections