Fashion is one of our most significant cultural artifacts — an expression of our values and fascinations, and an impression of a moment in time with social, political, and economic dimensions. Yet because much of its printed matter is created for commercial or informal ends, it rarely receives the thorough study it deserves. Ultimately there is a need for intellectual enterprise, new narratives and a healthy collective environment to interact with the actual production and positioning of fashion.
Founded in 2020, the Library will become the world’s most comprehensive repository of specialized fashion research and contemporary fashion publications. We will fill a much-needed gap in the preservation of and critical engagement with fashion’s printed culture at an institutional level, and build a free, globally accessible resource for fashion researchers, industry professionals, and amateur enthusiasts. International Library of Fashion Research is actively working not only to preserve fashion’s past, but to understand its present and contribute to its future.
For the Year of Queer Culture 2022, the International Fashion Research Library wanted to put forward its own vision for an outdoor exhibition project entitled "Queering Fashion", in partnership with its neighbour, the National Museum of Norway.
Fashion has always played a central role in the development of gender roles. In this project we want to open up an important conversation about inclusion and exclusion: Who is fashionable and who is not? What is fashionable and what is not? As a fashion research library, and as a large national institution like the National Museum of Norway, questions of representation are constantly present.
For this project, independent artists and personalities from the young progressive international underground scene and the queer community have been invited to look at the concepts of homosexuality through fashion, or even the homosexuality of fashion.
The aim is to show a total "exteriority" to the traditional and theoretical discourses of queer culture. This "exteriority" is the conceptual starting point of the project. Therefore, the commissioned artists for this project, photographer and filmmaker Lengua and costume designer Taylor Thoroski, have created a hybrid between a fashion film and an art film.
The exhibition project is also accompanied by a comprehensive reading list incorporating the International Library of Fashion Research's permanent collection as a living source of exploration and intellectual expansion.
This reading list is physically presented in the form of a "Queering Room" temporarily installed in the Polestar space in Oslo. This piece, and the project as a whole, will also travel to New York where it will be exhibited for a month, in collaboration with Printed Matter in Chelsea.
Together we draw parallels between fashion prints and 'artist books', compiling books, independent magazines and other ephemeral fashion and queer prints published outside of institutional publishing frameworks.