Currently reading : archivings.net
Archivings.net is the tumblr based website created by Shahan Assadourian, a fashion student who for the last year has been scanning and uploading hundreds of images from archives of fashion magazines.
Focussing on the time period of the mid 90s and early 2000s archivings.net shows us a stretch of time just before the internet’s eclipsing effect on fashion. However unlike how most fashion history is so often categorised into kitsch loopholes, romanticised fashion illustrations or the clinical aesthetic of museum photographed objects, archivings.net presents us with a refreshingly new stance on that difficult period of history which seems so recent but also has a weirdly fascinating distance.
The scans that archivings uploads are almost all from catwalks from the most esteemed designers to the now forgotten labels taken on analogue film. These images were taken and shared before the inception of the immediate nature of the likes of style.com which now acts as the way we mostly all look at new fashion. Archivings.net exhibits a period of time where to observe the newest fashions you would have had to have purchased a magazine weeks after a show rather than scroll through Instagram.
The speed of fashion can quite confidently be regarded as being unhealthy and the cycle of clothing which is produced is in such a high quantity that it is easy to forget the amount of work that some designers have created over time. It is also so simple to only think of designers by their last three to four collections but when a label has existed for decades their work can filter out of many peoples memories, especially when many websites known for housing photographs of collections only start from around 10 to 15 seasons ago. Fashion during this decade was far more exclusive than it is today, an invitation to a show or knowledge and then purchase of specific publications allowed a small selection of individuals into this world. This was also a period of time before the change in how we merge celebrity and fashion and attendance to fashion shows was more about business that it was about fashion being fashionable.
Archivings.net is not only interesting for its specific desire to categorise this period of time but also because it shows the ever evolving identities which fashion houses have created over the years and how these projections of women and men have so drastically changed throughout the years.
Perhaps what is most important about archivings.net though is the fact that Assadourian is documenting the existence of designers whose presence on the internet is almost non existent. Due to the nature of running a fashion business many designers simply stop existing if they can’t make any profit but archivings.net is showing us houses that have barely scraped the surface of the internet and may have shown for only a couple of seasons. This duration in fashion is widely acknowledged as being a time of intellectual presence in pattern cutting and aesthetic so having this space for a tumblr to celebrate the full breadth of this time is a real gift to the internet.
We’ve interviewed Assadourian to find out more about why and how she has created the website.
Givenchy Fall/Winter 1999
You are supplying the internet with a rich and powerful archive which previously has almost not existed online, why are you doing this?
I guess I’m doing this because I have an interest in fashion and many years ago I had no one to talk to about fashion and I had no idea how to look at collections, whether it was online or in a magazine, but since joining a certain blogging sphere helped me learn so much and talk to so many different people around the world. So by running this blog I am sharing information to people who may not know where to get it, this may be information that people already know about, but did not have a high quality picture of, or it could be a just something they can include in their bank of knowledge. I mean there are so many reasons why I’m doing this and not really one is more important than the other, it really just depends on what you are looking for. Archivings could be a way of looking at a number of collections from a specific designer and noticing and understanding their style and how long they’ve been doing what they’ve been doing, maybe in new ways or maybe they’ve referenced their past designs a lot. Another thing that could be observed is the issue of cultural appropriation, which designers have stolen from certain cultures or exploited certain cultural styling in order to sell their line; this could be something someone could cite in an essay or thesis. Basically all these images are meant to be filling gaps in history, and whether you like it or not, these shows happened, and they happened once and they’ll never happen again. Or it’s simply something pretty and inspiring to look at! Also if you are not already aware of other blogs that do similar things as my blog please check out, Vroomheid.tumblr.com and Cotonblanc.tumblr.com!
How many images have you scanned?
So at this moment in time, including all the images in my queue and on scan rejects, I’ve scanned close to 3,000 images. I started archiving around January of 2013, and I started scan rejects in November of 2013
Under Cover Fall/Winter 2000
I’m currently a student of Fashion Communications, and I’m focusing on that and interning in various places. I guess one of the original reasons I wanted to make this blog is because, at this point in my life, being 21 and in school, I don’t have a huge amount of credibility, and I had already been blogging via tumblr for a while prior to starting this blog, and it really gave me a way of doing something that I’m interested in, without spending much money, and without having to need other people to rely on and doing this by myself was important to me, since branding yourself has become so much more important for our generation. So I started archivings, and its really given me a way of proving that I have an interest and passion for what I do, like I literally have a hyperlink to my work, and I think that’s so cool! I’ve already gotten a lot of knowledge and awareness through blogging on archivings and it’s really helped me understand elevate my tastes and understandings of fashion.
Which magazines do you scan?
I started off scanning Gap press/gap collections, which is just a standard runway magazine that included some interviews with designers, new collections, and it also had a bit of trend forecasting, I focus more on the runway pictures though. I then moved onto some other older magazines that I found at my local bookstores, some i-D, Dazed and Confused, Vogues from various countries, just to add some editorials in the mix. Eventually after searching for more magazines to scan I came across a Japanese magazine called “High Fashion” or “HF” which was actually a magazine that started in the 60s. At first I knew nothing about this magazine, I mean it was hard to google something as vague as “High Fashion Magazine” and expect to get what I’m looking for, but the cover photos were always pretty compelling and, they seemed really important, you know? And so I took a chance and ordered an issue, and I’m really glad I did! All the images and editorials it included were very well realized and really seemed to capture whatever time they were taken in, which in this case was the late 90s. In addition to having some really interesting editorials, that included important models and photographers at the time, they had backstage photos from runway shows, which is always rare to find, different angles of looks from the runway show, including a back or side view at times, detail shots, photos of the invitations to the show and sometimes they would photograph the venue where the runway show was held. But in addition to some great images, they have interviews and articles on directors, artists, actors, designers, musicians and whoever else that was relevant at the time. Although almost all the text is in Japanese, and I can’t read it, it’s still cool to know that at the time this magazine was trying really hard to capture an international view on fashion/art/culture, it really recognized that everything was somewhat connected to each other. It from the looks of it to come from a sincere admiration of all things, that’s sort of set up like a yearbook almost? Anyway I know I went off into a tangent here but I really do love finding different rare magazines online, a friend and I refer to them as “dead sea scrolls.” I started off buying from a local bookstore that sold used magazines, and then I moved onto using Ebay and Yahoo Auctions. A lot are hard to come by though so I have to check often.
John Galliano Homme Fall/Winter 2004
Do you scan everything that you find or are you more selective?
Well there are certain things that I’m excited by, so I try to scan that first, but then I think about what other people may need, and go from there. For a long time, it was all based on my own tastes, but then it evolved into a reference point for whatever people needed, like for example, here is Fall 1999, these are the collections that happened, the end. I do avoid some things, just because I feel like they don’t fit in 100% but I do try to scan as much as I can, but at this point I’ve come to understand my audience a little bit, and know that they want certain specific things, and even at times they ask me to find them certain collections, and based on that I’ll scan and upload them.
Jean-Paul Gaultier Fall/Winter 1995
How far back do you intend to go?
I don’t really know at this point, but I’m trying to get as much as I can, it’s just that some fashions in the 80s we’re a little bit similar between houses, I mean I guess I can’t say for sure, and I have not gone too far in depth, but there were fewer designers that wanted to be truly different than everyone else. Designers like Jean-Paul Gaultier, Martin Margiela, Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto and others who I know started in between the 70s-late 80s, were designers that helped push the idea of fashion taking a lot of fine art aspects and including them into fashion design, which later pushed many other designers and created an era of fashion where every house wanted to have a different personality and different style. For example, we had Martin Margiela and Rei Kawakubo focusing more on deconstructionism, Jean-Paul Gaultier included aspects from various subcultures and references to different cultures around the world into his designs, Walter Van Beirendonck included certain fetishes and certain ideas of sex positivity and so on. Again I sort of went off into a tangent, but what I’m saying is that the 90s among other things were a time where a lot of designers were seeking their own voice much like how an artist would. So I guess I am a little wary of buying collection magazines from the 80s because A: I don’t have enough money to take as many stabs in the dark, especially because shipping costs are quite expensive on books/magazines, and B: I’m worried whether there is as many collections that included the spirit of what I just talked about, and again, I can’t know for sure, but the further back I go into the 90s the less I see of the specific thing I’m searching for, so I assume that there must be even less of it the further back I go. But basically, I’ll scan whatever I think is important and I know it when I see it? And when/if I make more money I’ll be more willing to take more chances with different decades, haha.
Yves Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2000
How important is printed fashion material to you?
Well I am a big fan printed fashion magazine, whether or not they’ll exist in the future. I guess it’s sort of scary to me that everything can come from one place, aka, the internet. It just seems like there are so many things to stimulate me online, and sometimes I just want to touch something solid, that I can control more easily. I like feeling like I own something you know? Because a magazine is a pretty attainable thing that people of all social classes could enjoy. I guess it’s like the closest I could be to real glamor or something like that, I could compare myself to a person who could afford all the clothing they want, and they probably have it, but they also probably own the magazine that I own, and they cherish it in the same way I do. Does that make sense? I just think it’s something beautiful to look at that I don’t have to save a huge amount of money for. I suppose the only exception would be something like Visonniare or Purple, which are like obviously much more expensive, so in that case, I’ll look at the photos online. But other than that it’s just sometimes hard to be able to take everything I see online in, everything moves so fast and it’s always on to the next thing, and I guess getting used to that scares me because I have no idea how it could affect the way I process my real life?!
Michiko Koshino Fall/Winter 1999
Is fashion history important to you, and if so why?
Fashion History is important to me, I guess it’s a way for me to understand what designers have impacted what I’ve worn over the years, where its origins came from and how it trickled down. Its also important to know exactly what’s going on around this time whether its 10 years ago or today, just for general awareness of all the time you’ve been alive for.
I suppose part of the reason I love this era is that it was before the world had fully embraced and respected fashion, so there was not always information that’s really easy to find, and I guess I love being able to uncover images of things that will never happen again! There’s just something really exciting in finding something, I guess its like digging up a fossil or something like that, haha. In addition to that I guess what I’ve noticed about this period of time is that everyone was on their own path, and although there were obviously some elements that were used across the board, designers seemed to really want to be different with a range of elements, weather they were subtleties or really in your face iconic collections, and I think that that is something I notice about myself, that I try to like as many different things and not focus on being a cohesive individual. Take Alexander Mcqueen collections or Jean Paul Gaultier collections for example, there was a new theme every time and I think that if I were a designer I’d try to use that idea to create whatever it is that I create, I guess to put it in words it would be “cohesively in-cohesive.”
Eri Matsui & E-M-C2 Spring/Summer 1999
John Galliano F/W 1997
Jean-Paul Gaultier Fall/Winter 1995
J. Maskrey F/W 2001