In a groundbreaking initiative, Google Arts & Culture has partnered with over 180 cultural and fashion institutions from around the globe to launch its new platform, We Wear Culture. The project led by the digital giant promises to revolutionise the fashion world by allowing people to research topics related to fashion, culture and art and explore the stories behind the clothes we wear today. The V&A, world’s leading museum of art and design, takes part in it.
Image: Influence and Longevity. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
By digitising museums collections and making it available to a global, online audience, We Wear Culture opens up a deep source of information on the relationship between the clothes we wear and the society we live in. The premise here is that fashion is not only clothes, but culture. Highlights from the project include, for instance, stories on the craftsmanship behind fashion and the impact of fashion in local communities.
Image: Indian Textiles Nature & Making. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Google designed its platform as a democratic tool for those seeking knowledge and inspiration. Designers, scholars, students or just anyone interested in culture will be able to take advantage from the content. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute to the Palace of Versailles, the largest ever virtual showcase of style is now at your fingertips.
Image: Dragon Robe worn by an emperor, Qing Dynasty, 1800-1900, China. Museum no. 870-1901. (Detail 2) (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London, which has one of the most comprehensive fashion collections in the world, is among the leading institutions sharing their treasures on Google’s new platform. Following its efforts to harness technology and unlock the world of fashion to online viewers, V&A brings the museum iconic items to life online and let people get in touch with eight bespoke online exhibitions, over 5,000 objects from the collection and four ultra-high ‘gigapixel’ images taken by the Google Art Camera. This state-of-art technology reveals details of highlights from the V&A that have been hidden to the naked eye until now, such as the extraordinary connection between fashion and Surrealist art that can be seen in a Schiaparelli evening coat.
Image: Evening coat, Elsa Schiaparelli, 1937, London. Museum no. T.59-2005. (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The V&A’s participation includes a 360º immersive film exploring a 1990 Vivienne Westwood corset and the garment’s place within fashion history. This virtual reality experience celebrates Westwood’s unique take on one of the most controversial garments of all times, which encompasses a painting by French artist Francois Boucher.
Image: Corset, Vivienne Westwood, 1990, UK. Museum no. T.216-2002. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Spanning five centuries, the V&A’s collection includes 17th century gowns, 18th century mantua dresses, 1930 eveningwear, 1960 daywear and much more. Now visitors will discover the collection in a completely new way. Kati Price, Head of Digital at the V&A, says: “Through these revelatory online experiences and exhibitions, we hope viewers will gain a greater understanding of the craftsmanship and design expertise that transform fashionable clothing into pieces of art”.
With the possibility to walk through museum galleries without leaving their rooms, people who might never be able to visit a physical exhibition will now get a chance to attend a digital version of it through the Google’s platform. The ‘We Wear Culture’ platform is free and available online here and through the Google Arts and Culture app on iOS and Android.