Fashion and textile collection

Peter Jensen Klemp
Photo from the exhibition Peter Jensen’s Muses in 2011. Photo: Pernille Klemp.

The fashion and textile collection is one of Denmark’s largest and finest collections of Danish and international fashion and textile design.

The textile collection, which dates back further than the museum’s fashion collection, represents peak achievements in most areas of textile art from the Renaissance until today. The largest collections deal with Danish embroidery, weaving and textile printing from the 20th century. In addition, the collection contains textiles in most techniques, especially from Europe and Asia, from various time periods. This includes tapestries, French and Italian silk fabrics, folk weaving, embroidery from around the world, bobbin lace, batik and ikat weaving. Two of the finest specimens in the collection are the museum’s unique collection of Danish hedebo embroidery from the 18th-20th century and two tapestries from the mid-20th century based on cartoons by the French painter Henri Matisse.

Marie Gudme Leth tekstil
Textile by Marie Gudme Leth.

The main emphasis of the fashion collection is on Danish women’s fashion from the 20th century. The most prominent parts of the collection are fine Danish tailor-made fashion from the 1930s-1960s, Erik Mortensen’s collection of haute couture dresses from the Paris fashion houses of Balmain and Jean-Louis Scherrer, Danish ready-made fashion from the 1960s, one-off clothes by 20th-century designers and works by selected active Danish fashion designers, including designs by Jan Machenhauer, Elise Gug, Ivan Grundahl, Nørgaard paa Strøget, Anne Damgaard, Laura Baruël, Nikoline Liv Andersen, Henrik Vibskov and Peter Jensen. The collection also includes a small but very fine collection of historical fashion from the 1700s and 1800s. Most of the historical clothing was originally collected for its textile values, but today it can also be seen as representations of the varying fashion styles and concepts of beauty over the ages.

Marimekko Isola
From the exhibition Marimekko – the story of a Nordic brand, presented in 2007.

In the museum’s collection efforts for the period of 2012-2017, the goal is to strengthen the existing areas of the fashion and textile collection with particular emphasis on 20th-century Danish fashion design, sustainable and socially responsible fashion and textile design and examples of the use of smart textiles in designs of a high artistic quality.

The history of the fashion and textile collection
Historically, the museum’s efforts in the fields of fashion and textile design have varied. Given the museum’s traditional focus on crafts and design and the related technologies in materials such as wood, glass, clay, metal and fibres, textile has been a natural focus area ever since the founding of the museum in 1892. The efforts to collect fashion design are a more recent activity, which became more intensified in the early 2000s. Clothes have been added to the collection continuously throughout the history of the museum but mostly in cases where the textile itself was seen to represent important design and artistic values.

There were more intensive efforts to collect selected categories of clothing during the first half of the 1930s, when the focus was on collecting historical clothing from the period of 1750-1880. In the 1980s, efforts to collect both historical and contemporary clothing were similarly intensified. For both periods, the museum’s records reveal that the collection effort had textile qualities and production techniques as its main criteria. This practice changed in the 1990s, and today the criteria are more specifically concerned with clothing as a whole and its fashion design qualities.

The inclusion of the Spanish-Italian artist and textile designer Mariano Fortuny’s (1871-1949) pleated dress ‘Delphos’, which was put into production in 1909, is a case in point.

As for the museum’s exhibition activity in the field of fashion and textile design, there have over the years been several historical textile and clothing exhibitions based on the museum’s collections. Prominent examples include the exhibitions Alverdens Broderier (Embroidery from around the world; 1983) and Pragt & Poesi. Kniplinger gennem 400 år (Splendour and poetry. Four centuries of bobbin lace; 1991) and Rococo-mania (2012). Fashion exhibitions at Designmuseum Danmark have often featured borrowed objects. The popular touring exhibition Théâtre de la Mode, which was shown at the museum in 1946, had been put together by Paris fashion houses. Later, in 1988, the museum cooperated with L’Union des Arts Décoratifs in Paris to stage the special exhibition Stjerner i fransk mode (Stars in French Fashion) based on borrowed objects, including some from the Paris museum Musée de la Mode et du Textile. In 2007 the museum presented the exhibition Marimekko – the story of a Nordic brand, which was based on the collections of textile and fashion at the Design Museum in Helsinki. In 2010 the museum curated the special exhibition Walk on the Wild Side. Margit Brandt Design 1965-1980, which was mainly based on objects from Margit and Erik Brandt’s private archives.

New permanent fashion and textile exhibition
In December 2014, Designmuseum Danmark opened a permanent exhibition of fashion and textiles – for the first time in the museum’s history. With around 350 exhibits from the museum’s sizeable collections, the exhibition will provide visitors with a unique perspective into fashion and textile design history – with a particular focus on Danish developments in the field over the past 300 to 400 years. A wealth of designs, patterns, motifs and colours represented in textiles, outfits and accessories will be on display in glass display cases and in the museum’s bespoke drawer display chests specially designed by Danish furniture designer Børge Mogensen.
Read more about the exhibition here

Last updated 24.06.2016

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