1970s Exhibition, Munich
Geschmacksache – Mode der 1970er Jahre
Question of taste – fashion in the 1970s
Munich: Münchner Stadtmuseum 25.1.2013 -15.9.2013
ICOM Costume Committee member
This exhibition was a very good example of the benefits of contemporary collecting – i.e. organising a collection of clothes that were made/worn during our lifetime. Such an approach allows not only organising a fairly complete collection but also to record the full documentation and place the garments in their social and political context. When collecting historical dress we just get the special garment, special for the occasion when it was worn, special for the person who used it etc. and it is just by chance, that we learn who has designed/made/worn the dress. Contemporary collecting allows for a more comprehensive and rational approach. Imagine, what will be the historical value of the Munich collection in the future – let’s say in two centuries! Let’s hope the collection will survive in its entirety! It will be a fantastic document of 20th century fashion, taste and social attitudes.
Certainly there is an obvious problem: what type of criteria should they use, as they have to be very selective. Munich, being a city of fashion, has even more to tell than other cities might do. And some objects will tell another story after a certain time: what seemed to be important and was not and the other way round. Only from the perspective of time we may really know, what is (or was) truly important. But the advantages of contemporary collecting are many and this exhibition showed very clearly the benefits of such an approach!
Tragically here a third story is told: Munich Olympic garments became of particular importance if only because of the political events surrounding the Olympic Games.
Obviously the 1970s produced a great variety of style experiments, sometimes very original, sometimes contradictory – posters, designs, photos and journals help to show the diversity of the approaches. Never before nor after was the variety as great as in the “me decade”, a word Thomas Wolfe coined for this “greatest age of individualism”. Everything was possible; just think of the Mini-Midi-Maxi debate. The emotions rising from fashion debates of that time are perhaps the reason why it is a favourite vintage fashion: loans from private owners allowed a quite unusual fashion shoot which could not have been done with just the museum's objects (see catalogue, ed. Isabelle Belting).