Fashion

A guide to researching Australian and international fashion, designs, designers, industries, textiles and fabrics, patterns, tailoring, dressmaking, uniforms, accessories, and body art.

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From our Pictures collection

Afternoon frock of flowered taffeta; organdy trimming, H87.188/24

From the series Manton's portfolio of fashion designs 1929. A competitor of Myer, Manton's wide range of men's, women's and children's goods appealed to middle-class shoppers.

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Fashion is a broad concept. As Rebecca Arnold notes in Fashion: a very short introduction:

Fashion is not merely clothes, nor is it just a collection of images. Rather, it is a vibrant form of visual and material culture that plays an important role in social and cultural life. 

The wide-ranging collections of State Library Victoria yield useful material – books, pictures, magazines, newspapers, online resources – on many aspects of fashion.

Use the tabs on the top of this page to discover resources, and remember that at any point during your search, you can ask for help using the links at the right of the screen.

Clothing, costume or dress?

Although the terms clothing, costume and dress can often be used interchangeably when talking about fashion, it can be useful to determine which of these concepts you are seeking information about before you begin your research. Joanne Eicher in Clothing, costume and dress (available through the Berg Fashion Library online) provides the following definitions:

The term 'clothing' is generally used to mean garments and accessories that cover the body - for example shirts, skirts, dresses, turbans, mittens or trousers are all items of clothing.

'Costume' describes items of clothing, or ensembles that are worn for special occasions, for performance or for disguise. It can also refer to ensembles worn by ethnic groups to indicate solidarity with the group and it's traditions.

'Dress' refers in everyday life to a one-piece garment, but in a broader sense this term describes the process of covering, adorning and modifying the body. 'Dress ordinarily communicates aspects of a person's identity. Dress is the totality of body alterations and additions that help an individual establish credibility of identity in everyday life.'

h141541

Press dress, 1866, H141541

 

State Library Victoria

Books from our collections

Items - Is Fashion Modern?

Items: Is Fashion Modern? presents 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a profound impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries. Accompanies MOMA's 2017-2018 exhibition.

Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme

Expedition explores how garments made for the most inhospitable environments on earth and beyond have inspired more than sixty years of fantastical, otherworldly fashions.

The World Atlas of Street Fashion

Discover the inspirational world of global street styles and the fascinating stories behind them, accompanied by hundreds of stunning photographs.

Punk girls

Fashion, music and politics collide in this landmark photography publication by one of Australia's most acclaimed artists.

Sock

A funny, lyrical, illuminating book on the rich and little known history of the humble sock, its various incarnations throughout the world, and on what socks teach us about the frailty and awkwardness of the human body.

Cool : style, sound, and subversion

Cool is a compendium of global youth subcultures and street styles--from Flappers to Swing Kids, to Goths to today's Normcore--that have shaped the fashion zeitgeist.