July 12, 2019 | News | No Comments
11th Jul 2019
Charlotte Smith probably owns the wardrobe of every girl’s dreams. Referred to as a “fashion anthropologist”, Smith, holds more than 8000 pieces of vintage, which span over 250 years of fashion. After inheriting over 3000 pieces of exquisite vintage fashion from her godmother, Smith took on the challenge to preserve not only the fabrics, but the stories they tell about the women who wore them.
Smith’s collection, aptly titled The Charlotte Smith Fashion Collection, is now one of the largest and most comprehensive international private fashion collections in the world. The unique focus on the cultural relevance and storytelling make the collection an obvious and exceptional choice for museum exhibitions. And on July 18, Smith in collaboration with the Australian Fashion Council and the Billy Blue School of Design, will present a selection of the collection, and for the first time, offer a number of the garments for sale.
“A significant fashion collection is a priceless archive of fashion and social history, as well as an invaluable source of inspiration and education,” Smith told by email.
Read on for more fashion wisdom from Smith, as she talks her collection, what a fashion anthropologist is, and the importance of fashion.
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“As an anthropologist, my role is to discover the history behind the culture of fashion, the inspiration, the catalysts, the innovations, social history as well as fashion history, and the stories of the people who wore (and wear) the clothes. I like the idea that my role as a fashion anthropologist takes me away from the immediateness of fashion, although understanding and being aware of the physical act of making a garment, illustration, pattern making, textiles, and so on are important. Personally, I am more interested in the source, the origins of fashion.
To be honest, I find my role of looking after a collection of 8000 pieces representing 250 years of fashion history — many pieces are so fragile and valuable they are stored in museum textile boxes — more stressful than my work as an anthropologist.”
“I realise how much respect I have for fashion because of my collection. I respect fashion for being a barometer of our time, it reflects society, values, women’s roles in society, world events, showcases technology and so on. It’s historical, which means it’s played an important part in shaping who we are as a society today. Looking at fashion from a social history point of view gives fashion integrity and relevance. I am inspired to share this respect for fashion with others, so that they respect fashion too.
I love my 1970s hostess gowns, designed by Danica of Double Bay and worn by Margreta Elkins, a famous mezzo soprano opera singer from Brisbane, when she sang at some of the most famous concert halls in the world including the Sydney Opera House. I love knowing the history behind the women who are the clothes. That brings them to life.”
“What you wear is your identity. If you feel great wearing something you exude confidence. What you wear also has the power to transform you as a person, your situation, your career, even your future. I think it’s incredibly exciting to think that what you wear has the power to change your life.”
“I have decided to reduce the collection by hundreds of items. This means more people can enjoy owning something special from a major collection. I am also choosing items for sale that are perfect for restoration and conservation, inspiration, education and wearing. There will be 18 garments on display. I chose them to fit the theme: .
Quite a few of the garments in the exhibition have never been seen before and include a sequinned Martin Margiela sheath dress, a Rodarte embroidered gown and an incredible cream silk satin wedding dress from the 1930s.”
You can view pieces from The Charlotte Smith Collection at the Billy Blue College of Design in both Melbourne and in Sydney. In Sydney the exhibition will be held July 18-20 at Billy Blue College of Design, Ultimo. In Melbourne, the exhibition will be held July 26-27 at the Billy Blue College of Design, Melbourne.