Archive resources for fashion research

Natasha Kroll Archive University of BrightonImage: window display from Natasha Kroll Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives

The archives housed in the Faculty are a wonderful resource for national and international scholars in fashion, with subject-specific holdings and rich collections of broader design material. The archives incorporate local, national and international material ranging from regional amateur film archives to international designer works.

Screen Archive South East

Visit the online resource for fashion/textile studies: Screen Search Fashion

Screen Archive South East is a public sector moving image archive serving the South East of England. Established in 1992 at the University of Brighton, this regional screen archive locates, collects, preserves, provides access to and promotes screen material related to the South East of England and of general relevance to screen history. 

The archive is part of the University of Brighton and its primary partner is the West Sussex Record Office at Chichester. The SASE Conservation Centre and collection are housed at Chichester and the administrative office is located at the University of Brighton.

Strengths of the collection are:

  • publicity material documenting the seaside towns in the South East of England
  • rural films chronicling village and agricultural life and its rituals (harvests, festivals, etc.)
  • family films representing social rituals such as weddings, birthdays and Christmas as recorded by the different social classes 
  • the Royal Sussex Regiment from the First World War to the Korean War
  • films showing national moments of commemoration and celebration through historical pageants, the Jubilees of 1935 and 1977, the Coronations of 1937 and 1953, VE Day 1945 and the Festival of Britain in 1951

All of this material has potential value for fashion and textile studies, since it depicts clothing worn for formal and informal family events, for work, sport and military service and for public rituals such as weddings, parades and pageants. It is a fine example how fashion can track local social histories through the style of dressing and through the design of work-wear clothing for specific industries active during history in the South East of England. 

Screen Search Fashion is an online teaching and learning resource that is accessible to all, and which explores British amateur and non-fiction film of the 1920s and 30s, previously underused material for fashion research. Screen Search Fashion demonstrates the vast potential of non-fiction film as a resource for students interested in fashion and dress and it has the potential to contribute to dress historians’ developing interest in everyday clothing.

Screen Search Fashion was a collaborative project between the Royal College of Art (RCA) and the Screen Archive South East (SASE) at the University of Brighton. This comprised web-based learning routes focused on 1920s and 1930s fashion, as seen in archive film, and serves as a complementary resource to the archive’s Screen Search database. The project was funded by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning through Design.

University of Brighton Design Archives

The Design Archives focus on the broad practice of British Design in the Twentieth Century and houses a rich collection of works that provide scholars with primary research sources on the environmental context of design, design as a profession and design practice. 

Resource for fashion/textile studies include: 

Alison Settle- prolific journalist and editor of British Vogue 

Natasha Kroll- display designer and appointed display manager at Simpson (Piccadilly) Ltd., in 1942. She joined the BBC as set designer in 1956

Vokins Department Store, Brighton – from the1890s to its closure in 1997, testimony to regional fashion retail and consumption Henrion – graphic design work for the L. Harris and the London fashion tailoring company Harella in the 1960s

Council of Industrial Design - Fashion sections at Britain Can make It exhibition, 1946 

The eLearning Index: Designing Britain 1945-1975, the visual experience of post-war society, Fabrics forming society – an index of fashion design fro 1940-1960, which encompasses Knitting, Sewing, Textiles Design and Dresses.

Visit the University of Brighton Design Archives 

Strengths of the Archives are:

  • Archives of interest locally, nationally and internationally
  • Covers a broad design spectrum to inform and contextualise specific Fashion and Textiles research
  • Making archives ‘live’ through promotional activity and programmes of publication, exhibition and seminar projects.
  • Part of current debate in the digitisation of archival sources.
  • Expert academic curatorial team
  • Hosts a lively community of scholars from postgraduates to established scholars.

Aldrich Collection

Temporary websites:

[The newly developed website is due for launch early in 2011]

Resource for fashion/textile studies: 

Initiated in 1995 by Michael and Sandy Aldrich, the Aldrich Collection comprises about 300 works of contemporary visual art which can be viewed online. The vast majority of these have been produced by students and tutors working at the Faculty of Arts and Architecture at the University of Brighton, as well as its distinguished institutional precursors in art and design education which go back over 140 years. The disciplines of Fashion and Textiles have played a key role in this story.

The Aldrich Collection has been established with the express intention of reinforcing and further developing public recognition of the Faculty of Arts and Architecture as a quality provider of art and design education in Britain and a recognised national Centre for creativity, innovation and research in the visual and performing arts. 

The Aldrich family decided to collect and commission artworks to be donated to the University’s registered charity, the Foundation fund. It is envisaged that the Aldrich Collection will evolve and develop through purchase, commission and donation, actions that will be overseen by a Selection Committee. In February 2000, as a means of further enhancing the initiative, the University decided to donate some of its own collected works to the Aldrich Collection. In its expanded form the latter will also serve as the founding collection for the new centre for Contemporary Visual Arts.

A visual analysis of the Aldrich Collection reveals that creative endeavours at Brighton is – and has always been- about much more than mere economics. It is concerned with the worlds of imagination and invention, the exploration of the personal and idiosyncratic as well as the corporate, the experience of emotional shifts engendered by joyful exuberance, agonising pain and sophisticated refinement, as well as the redefining of aesthetic possibilities and cultural boundaries across the spectrum of artistic activity.

To date, representation in the Aldrich Collection is dominated by the work of recent graduates. In ceramics these have been drawn from the late 1990’s, although for much of the 20th century there have been a number of distinguished designers associated with Brighton. 

Whilst it is clearly impossible in this brief introduction to mention all dimensions of creative work at Brighton, over recent years editorial photography has emerged as a potent force with a number of significant practitioners.

A number of key areas of artistic endeavour are yet to be represented in the Aldrich Collection. At the beginning of the millennium, in the context of radically changing practices in collecting and exhibiting the visual arts, it is intended that as the Aldrich Collection further shapes and refines its strategy for acquisition and display this will reflect the broad dimensions of artist practise at Brighton

Strengths of the collection are:

  • Evidencing the Faculty of Arts at the University of Brighton as a key quality provider of Art and Design Education in Britain
  • The acknowledgement of the Faculty of Arts as a centre for creativity, innovation and research in the visual and performing arts.