Penrose Library provides access to two intriguing fashion databases: Vogue Archive and Berg Fashion Library. If you are interested in the history of fashion using primary and secondary sources, or are a designer, costume designer for the theatre, or a visual artist looking for inspiration, or are conducting interdisciplinary research that involves fashion, be sure to check these out.
As a primary source, Vogue Archive offers the digital American version of the periodical from 1892 to the present. The collection includes high-quality scans of every page, including articles, advertisements, articles, and even short fiction, and the text is fully searchable. Issues can be browsed from beginning to end.
Searches can be limited to fashion item (from “A-Line” to “Zouave Jacket”), company/brand (from “100 Greatest Books Ever Written” to “Vanitie”), document type (article, contributors, cover, fashion shoot, fiction, index, letters to the editor), document feature (cartoon, chart, diagram, illustration, infographic, logo, photograph), and date ranges. Articles can be printed, saved, emailed, and downloaded (all at one page at a time), and records exported to RefWorks.
A search on “shoes,” will retrieve records and full text with the word shoes. Limiting to “illustration” and “photograph” will retrieve articles with images, but not necessarily images of shoes. For a more successful image search for an item, type “shoes” into the search box and select “Image Details”->”Fashion Item” from the drop-down menu to the right.
An interesting feature, the publication-date graph provides results of searches by decade. For example, there are 877 records about bicycles between 1890-1899 (519 of them advertisements), and 145 records referring to bicycles between 1990-1999 (8 of them advertisements). Such data may provide insights into changes in fashion and twentieth-century innovations and inventions over time.
Articles appear with a tool that allows images to be rotated and a zoom feature; to hide the tool, click on the arrow in the lower right corner.
The Berg Fashion Library from Oxford University Press is a combination reference resource, ebook/ejournal collection, and image database. Covering dress and clothing across time, the entire database, or individual sections, can be searched by keywords on topics to find books, articles, encyclopedia entries, and images. Collections can be browsed by dress, period, place, textiles, and themes, and by combinations such as period 1700-1899 and place Europe. Images are from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection and from the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion image collection.
An advanced search on the phrase “world war” finds a combination of ebooks, articles, and encyclopedia entries about such topics as fashion during World War I (fashion debate, fashion under the occupation) and sewing (lessons for American girls after WWII and home sewing in Britain during the war), with a library of relevant images located on the right side of the screen.
Images can be searched by object type, designer or manufacturer, object date, and place. An object-type search on “shoes” results in an array of shoes from around the world and across the centuries. Mouse over the image for brief information, or click on the image for more detail.
In addition, Berg offers the full text of seminal classic and modern writings on fashion, patterns, and a small directory of museums with fashion collections, including images from their collections.