V&A Collaborates with Google to Unlock a Fusion of Fashion


“We wear culture”: Google Arts Collaborates With The V&A

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From the fusion of fashion with surrealist art to Vivienne Westwood’s anarchic designs, the V&A collaborates with Google to unlock the world of fashion with a new virtual experience, "We wear culture".

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) joins over 180 renowned cultural institutions around the world from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Palace of Versailles to create the largest ever virtual exhibition of style. The “We wear culture” project by Google Arts & Culture uses state-of-the-art technology to allow viewers to explore 3,000 years of world fashion and discover the stories behind the clothes we wear today. The collaboration is one of a number of ways the V&A is harnessing new technologies to bring its unparalleled fashion collection to life online.

As part of the project, a 1990 Vivienne Westwood corset from the V&A’s collection has been reimagined in virtual reality for the first time. This new interpretation of the corset celebrates Westwood’s unique take on one of the most controversial garments in history. This, and many more exciting features, are now available online as part of the global “We wear culture” platform launching today. 

Spanning five centuries, the V&A’s fashion collection is one of the most comprehensive collections in the world. The collection includes 17th century gowns, 18th century mantua dresses, 1930s eveningwear, 1960s daywear and post-war couture, including designs by Charles James, Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga, as well as the greatest designers of our time, from Alexander McQueen to Rei Kawakubo and Vivienne Westwood. 

Highlights from the V&A now available on the Google Arts & Culture We wear culture platform include: 

  • A Vivienne Westwood corset from the V&A’s collection has been brought to life through an immersive filmed virtual reality experience. The 360 film examines the corset’s place within fashion history and discusses its design, which encompasses a painting by French artist François Boucher, to explore the inextricable links between fashion and art.
  • Four ultra-high resolution ‘gigapixel’ images taken by the Google Art Camera reveal details of highlights from the V&A collections, until now hidden to the naked eye. Viewers can now zoom in and marvel at the masterful stitches of an 18th century Dragon Robe worn by a Qing Dynasty emperor; get close to a 1937 Elsa Schiaparelli evening coat to explore the connection between fashion and Surrealist art; investigate the Arts and Crafts movement through a 1895-1900 Marshall and Snelgrove evening coat; and consider the unprecedented luxury of British court life through a mantua robe dating to 1755-60.
  • The V&A has created eight bespoke online exhibitions for the project, unlocking its collections to new audiences. Featuring stunning photography, video content and commentary, these include Gallery of Fashion, which traces five centuries of fashion at the V&A; The Politics of Fashion, a survey of 18th century British court style; V&A Fashion in Motion, showcasing the Museum’s most memorable live catwalk shows, including Alexander McQueen (1999) and Yohji Yamamoto (2011) and Schiaparelli and Surrealism investigating the artistic genius of Elsa Schiaparelli and how the designer transformed fashion.
  • The V&A has made over 5,000 objects from its fashion collection available on the We wear culture platform, increasing its accessibility to viewers around the world.

Kati Price, Head of Digital at the V&A, said,

“We are constantly exploring how new technologies can help bring the V&A’s unrivalled fashion collection to life online. Online visitors can now see the incredible detail of highlights from the Museum’s collection, while discovering the tantalising stories behind them in ways never experienced before. Through these revelatory online experiences and exhibitions, we hope viewers will gain a greater understanding of the craftsmanship and design expertise that transforms fashionable clothing into pieces of art.”

Amit Sood, director of Google Arts & Culture, said,

“We invite everyone to browse the exhibition on their phones or laptops and learn about the stories behind what you wear. You might be surprised to find out that your jeans or the black dress in your wardrobe have a centuries-old story. What you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”

The We wear culture platform is available online at g.co/wewearculture and through the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android for everyone.


Sarah Salmon


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