From the Courtly Fashions of Versailles to the Street Styles of Modern Tokyo

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The world of fashion is brought to your fingertips in a new virtual exhibition by Google in collaboration with the National Women’s History Museum and world renowned cultural institutions

3000 years of the world’s fashion is brought together in the largest virtual exhibition of style. The “We wear culture” (http://g.co/wewearculture) project by Google Arts & Culture is a collaboration with the National Women’s History Museum and over 180 renowned cultural institutions from New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, São Paulo and around the world. Using state-of-the-art technology, the project allows you to explore everything from the ancient Silk Road, through the courtly fashions of Versailles, to British punk and the stories behind the clothes you wear today. Iconic pieces that changed the way generations dressed, such as Marilyn Monroe’s high heels or the Black Dress by Chanel are brought to life in virtual reality. Fashioning Yourself: A History of Home Sewing (http://bit.ly/2r3TpqA) by the National Women’s History Museum is now available online as part of the global exhibition opening today.

The exhibitions feature the icons, the movements, the game changers and the trendsetters including Alexander McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Christian Dior, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Yves Saint Laurent, Manolo Blahnik, Gianni Versace, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Balmain, Vivienne Westwood, Miyake Issey and many more.

Fashion experts, curators and designers as well as universities, museums and NGOs from around the world collaborated on the exhibition to show that fashion is a part of our culture, a form of art and a result of true craftsmanship with a multifaceted impact. Google’s state-of-the-art technology, including virtual reality, 360° videos, Street View and ultra-high resolution “gigapixel” images were used to preserve the collections and make them available for everyone.

Finally, online visitors can discover eleven interactive stories about American women and fashion, their participation in politics, and their contributions to American culture. Highlights available online from the National Women’s History Museum include:

  • McCall’s Paper Pattern (1952) took inspiration from Hollywood celebrities
  • 1940’s paper doll set reflects the mid-century vision of idealized womanhood, achieved with an extensive wardrobe
  • Singer Sewing Machines were marketed to 1950s teenage girls encouraging them to affordably upgrade their wardrobes and social lives years
  • “Lydia” paper doll (1977) not only recognized women’s workforce fashion but also illustrated African American women’s entrance into professional careers

National Women’s History Museum Director of Program Elizabeth Maurer said: “Our exhibit illustrates how the technologies that created new markets for fashion enabled clever, creative women to design and construct fashionable wardrobe items at home. Making fashionable clothing at home allowed women to express their fashion ideas, and home sewing enabled women to suit themselves.”

The project brings together the National Women’s History Museum’s collection with over 180 emblematic institutions. The stories of four iconic pieces that shaped fashion history are brought to life in virtual reality films that one can watch on YouTube or with a virtual reality viewer.

  • Chanel’s Black Dress from Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France (1925) that radically changed the dress code of wearing black, making it a statement piece in every woman's wardrobe.
  • Marilyn Monroe’s stilettos by Museo Salvatore Ferragamo from Florence, Italy (1959-60), the sparkling red high heels that became an expression of empowerment, success and sexiness for women.
  • Comme des Garçons Kimono-inspired sweater and skirt from Kyoto Costume Institute, Kyoto, Japan (1983), that manifests how Rei Kawakubo brought traditional and contemporary Japanese Kimono aesthetics and craftsmanship onto the global fashion stage in radical designs.
  • Vivienne Westwood Corset, from Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK (1990), which celebrates the designer's unique take on one of the most controversial garments in history, and brings the worlds of fashion and art together.

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 exhibition is available online and through the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android for everyone.

Notes to editors:

“We wear culture” in numbers:

  • More than 180 leading cultural and fashion institutions from 42 countries.
  • Over 400 online exhibitions and stories sharing a total of 30.000 photos, videos and other documents.
  • 4 virtual reality experiences of iconic fashion pieces.
  • Over 700 ultra high-resolution, so called gigapixel images.
  • Over 40 venues offer backstage access on Google Street View.

Further highlights from the We wear culture project:

  • Step inside the world’s largest costume collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory thanks to a 360° film and see how the experts work to conserve the 35,000 artefacts the museum holds.
  • Make a virtual visit to fashion’s many homes like the Condé Nast's Dream Pad (Condé Nast Archive), the Palace of Versailles and the African Heritage House.
  • Look around in the MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp a place where the game changers of fashion await you, or walk through the Palazzo Pitti with Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘Vision of Fashion’ photography exhibit on display.
  • Ultra-high resolution images – taken by the Google Art Camera - allow you to marvel at the masterful stitches of a Dragon Robe worn by Qing Dynasty emperor from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and to get close to the Elsa Schiaparelli evening coat and its artfully attached rose details that exemplify the love affair between Fashion and Surrealist art.

Fashion as a form of art and culture:

  • Explore the relationship between fashion and culture by browsing through the ferocious fashion of the British punk movement (British Film Institute), the evolution of street style in Japan (ACROSS) and history of denim (The Museum at FIT).
  • Discover the wardrobe of painter Frida Kahlo (Museo Frida Kahlo) or how brazilian actress and bombshell Carmen Miranda popularized the plateau shoe (Museu Carmen Miranda) in the 1930s.

The craftsmanship behind fashion:

  • Learn about fashion’s unbreakable ties with craftsmanship. Watch how a shoe (Museo della Calzatura di Villa Foscarini) or a traditional Kimono (The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, FUREAIKAN) is made. Explore the skillfulness of 18th Century Belgian lacemaking (MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp) and the iconic Delphos Dress (Palazzo Fortuny), dyeing techniques in India (Avani Society) or Nigeria (The Centenary Project) or all about the machines that revolutionized textile making (TextilTechnikum) over the centuries.

Impact of fashion:

  • Understand the diverse impact of fashion how it empowers local communities in India (Worldview Impact Foundation), has an environmentally challenged side (Global Fashion Agenda) and of course how it means business (London College of Fashion).
  • Read expert articles about “Why fashion matters” (by Frances Corner), “4 ways to love both fashion and the planet” (by Eva Kruse) or “How to power dress like history’s greatest women” (by Amber Butchart).

About the National Women’s History Museum
Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM, Inc.) is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating about the diverse historic contributions of women and raising awareness about the critical need for a national women’s history museum in our nation’s capital. Currently located online at http://www.womenshistory.org/, the Museum’s goal is to build a world-class, permanent museum on or near the National Mall that will herald and display the collective history of American women. For additional information visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Google Arts & Culture
Google Arts & Culture puts over a thousand museums at your fingertips. It’s a new, immersive way to explore art, history and wonders of the world. Following projects that made Street Art, Performing Arts and Natural History accessible to people all over the world, “We wear culture” allows everyone to explore the world of fashion. The Google Arts & Culture app is free and available on the web, on iOS and Android. The Google Arts & Culture team is an innovation partner for cultural institutions. The team works on technologies that help preserve and share culture and allow curators to create engaging exhibitions online and offline, inside museums.

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Shanna Duncan
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