Google explores the making of fashion with We Wear Culture
On 8th June, after over a year of preparatory work, US internet giant Google has announced the worldwide launch of its new We Wear Culture website, in a press conference at Paris' Decorative Arts Museum. The website's declared aim is to make the history and culture of fashion accessible to everyone.
The website was described by the Director of the Decorative Arts Museum, Olivier Gabet, as "an innovative, ambitious project that will cause quite a stir." Thanks to the US group's digital savvy, We Wear Culture is able to explore the fashion world from the inside, revealing how it works and highlighting the various kinds of expertise that lie behind it.
The website is part of Google's Art & Culture department, which operates using Street View technology, and gives the general public's access to over 6 million images and 4,000 exhibitions. Google has worked with 180 partner institutions in 40 countries to gather the archive material and the items featured in We Wear Culture.
In France, those partners include the lace museum in Calais, the Versailles Palace, fashion design school ESMOD, the National Centre for stage costumes and the Azzedine Alaïa gallery. Elsewhere, Google has worked with New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, the Kyoto Fashion Institute in Japan and the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
According to Laurent Gaveau, Head of Lab at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris: "The digital experience doesn't compete with visits to the actual museums. It's part of a virtuous circle. It makes people want to learn more, and encourages them to get out [and do so]." According to Delphine Pinasa, Director of Paris' National Centre for stage costumes, the challenge nowadays is to "showcase, inform and bring the public back into museums."
Museums the world over have given Google access to their signature pieces, such as Chanel's little black dress or Christian Dior's Bar two-piece suit. They also contributed their expertise, and helped Google produce content which includes articles, videos and pictures, which users can zoom in on, taking a closer look at the finish, fabrics and tailoring of the clothes on display.
We Wear Culture is designed to explore the making of fashion and its relationship with art and culture, measuring its sociological and economic impact and providing a deeper understanding of the history of clothing. The website will allow "the sharing of insights that are still reserved to a select few, but which nurture the thirst of knowledge of many others," said Olivier Gabet.
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