Documentation – makes clothes talk*


Pernilla Rasmussen
Dr ph Textile Studies University of Lund, ICOM Costume Committee member

Britta Hammar
retired Senior Curator Kulturen Lund, ICOM Costume Committee member


Costume is an inspiring source of knowledge about human life and conditions, of ideas, conceptions and thoughts, of customs and usages, of trade, crafts and fashion in all times everywhere in the world.

A good basic documentation is essential for the understanding of any object and especially of garments. To make clothes really talk demands an even more thorough technical documentation. We suggest that you start to examine the three main technology areas of dress. A more detailed documentation enhances the value of the costume collection e.g. material culture studies, textile/dress history.

Dress has three technology areas: material, cutting and sewing techniques. They all relate to and depend on each other, and together they create the aesthetic expression that represents the ideal fashion of a time. They should be studied together to increase understanding of the biography of clothes and their importance as source material for other studies. Cutting and sewing are often integrated techniques that together can be spoken of as the construction of the garment.

This presentation concentrates on fashionable dress from a certain period but the approach and the examples can be applied to any garment e.g. folk costume as well as to the clothing from later periods.

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