In Conversation With…

Our History of Dress MA class in conversation with Dr. Olga Vainshtein and Ksenia Gusarova via Skype
Our History of Dress MA class in conversation with Dr. Olga Vainshtein and Ksenia Gusarova via Skype

On the 3rd December last year, Dr. Olga Vainshtein, a Senior Researcher, and Ksenia Gusarova, a Ph.D. student and fellow lecturer from the Russian State University for the Humanities, joined our History of Dress MA class via Skype for our very first international conference. Taking advantage of modern technology, we were able to overcome geographic location and difference in time to take part in an in-depth discussion with fellow fashion historians.

Having set up the first Fashion Studies Centre in Russia, Dr. Vainshtein and Ksenia brought many thought-provoking points of discussion; presenting themes of photography, image and media to our class. With discussion of the role of image in fashion, what truly constitutes and image, and how this can then applied to the history of dress, amongst other academic topics, the discussion proved to be a challenge to us students new to voicing our opinions so directly.

Despite our initial nervousness, it was a fascinating experience and exciting opportunity to exchange ideas and thoughts with our fellow fashion historians, and is hopefully the first of many exchanges with the International History of Dress community.

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Having set the bar high with our International Fashion Conference, we continued our precedent for eminent guests by being joined by celebrated curator of dress and exhibition-maker Judith Clark. Judith is also a Professor in Fashion and museology at the London College of Fashion, and Director of the Fashion Curation MA, so we were lucky enough to turn to an expert for advice for our upcoming Virtual Exhibitions. She also kindly listened to our areas of interest, promoting discussion, advice and possible avenues for further research, something we were all very grateful for.

Once she had listened to our ideas, we were then able to listen to Judith discuss her awe-inspiring career, past exhibitions and future projects. As aspiring fashion historians with limited experience in curating, it was fascinating to hear Judith’s methodology to fashion curating, her unique approach to representing dress in an exhibition format, and her past exhibitions that are celebrated for their distinct style and aesthetic. Having organised major exhibitions at the V&A, MoMU in Antwerp, and the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, we could only listen in awe as she told us about her past and present projects. To say we were inspired by her visit was an understatement, and we definitely all took her advice on board for our research projects.

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