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/A Collection of Papers/

In April 1974, the late Italian fashion journalist and stylist Anna Piaggi started presenting her reports for Italian Vogue as ‘box’ reports. “box, di Anna Piaggi” was listed under the ‘lettura e attualitá’ [Reading and News] section of the magazine rather than the fashion pages with which she had been associated. The ‘box’ started with a square drawn across a page and a third of a double page spread. The thin line was designed to ‘cast’ a grey shadow at a 45 degree angle that made the area on the page actually look a bit like a shallow box. In it, she promised in those inaugural pages, she would be putting: ‘people, notes, observations, and fashions’.

In the first edition she asked six designers three questions: what they collected; which illustrator from the 20th Century would they like to collect; and finally which (other) designer from the 20th century would they like to collect. Their answers opened out the scope and timeframe of the ‘box’, from 1920s Italian ceramics, 1930s painters of panthers, Georges Lepape’s 1911 illustrations of Poiret and so on. The thumbnails that accompanied the lists, Piaggi claimed, were the clues to how we would be dressing the following season. Collections within collections: the apparently miscellaneous selection would make sense creating genealogies of their references.

Archivist Addendum has launched as a slim box [307 x 220 x 35mm] of uncoated card, stapled together. It can be laid flat or placed vertically on a shelf. With lettering on both its lid and its spine, it plays with two formats: book and box. Books are usually read sequentially. If you want to classify papers you place them in a file. If you put papers in a box they will be safe — but there will be no guarantee of order.

The origin of the format is actually a box belonging to Artistic Director Jane Howard that she has kept since the 1990s when she was working full time as a fashion stylist. She kept ephemera that was fetishised at the time, but rarely still found. Her Marni boot box still contains amongst other things: designer Shelley Fox’s invitation to her Philadelphia Florist exhibition at the Stanley Picker Gallery in 2006; an invitation to Comme des Garçons Junya Watanabe Man A/W 2007/08; a 7” vinyl cover of Chas and Dave’s Rabbit (a gift from a DJ); A page from The Independent 18th March 1999 featuring Hussein Chalayan as British Fashion Award winner; photocopies of looks and the running order from Louis Vuitton’s S/S 2006 men’s show; polaroids of shoots from 2004 with stylist Katie Grand (for whom she then worked); postcards Howard bought in Berlin in 2005 of couples dancing; an A5 invitation to the Pre-Inca Feather Dress exhibition at Judith Clark Costume Gallery in Notting Hill in 1999. She describes them as fashion industry left-overs; not random; a record of events to be used or remembered later on, but not easily categorised either: projects that were symptomatic of big shifts in the industry at the time, and of Jane Howard’s own restlessness. They were clues to alternative ways of using fashion and working within it as a system, ‘people, notes, observations, and fashions’ as Piaggi would have labelled it.

This box not only contains Howard’s signature styling [of fashion that is importantly no longer for sale], but also, with Editor-in-Chief Dal Chodha, a commitment to presenting and literally re-presenting academic research within their remit. This first collection of papers (academic and material) includes a snapshot of an international collaborative project driven by dress historian Rebecca Arnold based at the Courtauld Institute in London, that looked at the relationship between ‘dress, medium and meaning’ that formed the subtitle to its main heading: Fashion Interpretations. The participants’ overlapping concerns were about how representational modes translate and reconfigure meaning. Arnold said: “Fashion Interpretations was really about two things for me: to explore medium as a subject in and of itself, and as a way to open up and extend our understanding of fashion, and to collaborate with people whose work I respected and admired.”

Howard and Chodha have respected this principle, extending and enacting the project member’s research quite literally with the paper it is printed on. Those printed on a university library photocopier (on 75 and 90gsm paper) feel like penultimate drafts (not for sale), the last usually owned by an academic before sending it to be formatted by a publisher. To these they have added flourishes: 275gsm Ensocoat board postcards; an unbound 32-page full colour GalerieArt Satin 90gsm paper publication; five Image Indigo 170gsm collage prints [brass paperclip]; 16 full colour gloss coated 300gsm paper prints in single glassine envelope; 16 full colour Rapesco Supaclip bound pages of Terraprint Silk 70gsm paper. The box constantly reminds us of something personal that runs through the projects, dress as mourning, as private eBay transaction, as holiday snap, reading, about what to keep, what to paint, translate; the A1 full-colour 80gsm uncoated paper poster “Take me home” — designed from a curator’s evocative moodboard — creates the dilemma around whether to store it, pristine, or hang it on the wall. The gilded names of the authors on the closed lid read like patrons on a gallery wall, creating yet another analogy for the space inside the box and the act and art of selecting the material.


︎︎︎Available at Tenderbooks

ISSN 2635-1668