The Uses of History: reflections from the 5th Fashioning the Early Modern workshop (by Peter McNeil)

Fashioning the Early Modern 5th Workshop with Designers

Carlsberg Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark

13-14 June 2012

The 5thFashioning the Early Modern Workshop with Rococo and Knitting Designers, conducted 13-14 June 2012 at the Carlsberg Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark, explored this question of past and present in terms of contemporary fashion design practice. Carefully brokered by Kirsten Toftegaard, Dr Maj G Ringgard and Prof. Marie-Louise Nosch as a two-day workshop event, it used Toftegaard’s concurrent exhibition Rokokomania (Designmuseum Danmark 2012) as the leitmotif for a series of conversations between thirty participants from many backgrounds and countries. A group of three fashion and textile designers (all women, interestingly) had been commissioned to create design ‘interventions’ that were integrated in the space of the Rococo show. They had been briefed concerning the curatorial intent and had had considerable time to work on the commissions, due to a delay in the timetabling of the show. This allowed the unusual possibility of much reflection, as well as their considered reaction to the show in the context of the HERA FEM Workshop. Smaller groups of FEM participants sat down for one hour with each designer to discuss and debate their design process and outcomes, providing an invaluable opportunity to test on this occasion if designers might make ‘use of (live) historians’ rather than general ‘uses of history’. On Day 2 we had the privilege to meet experts and designers of contemporary knitting, who also indicated the ‘uses of history’ for their practice.

Read the full paper by Peter McNeil here.

Photos from the workshop and visit to the Rococomania exhibition can be seen here: