Fashion Collection travels through time

By Morgan VanWickler & Megan Palumbo – Art Director & Sports Editor

The Lasell Fashion Collection is located in the Donahue building. The collection showcases a number of historical garments for fashion students to reference when making their garments. Photo by Morgan VanWickler

From a dream made into reality, Lasell’s Fashion Collection was established in 1996 through the volunteer work done by Fashion Professor Jill Carey. For two years, Carey volunteered with Morgan Memorial Goodwill in Boston, where she was documenting a collection that the organization had received. Lasell saw this as an opportunity to bring in physical historical garments for fashion students to reference and use during class. 

In 2016, The American Textile History Museum in Lowell permanently closed. Following their closing, the museum donated a portion of their exhibition-quality artifacts and garments to Lasell College.

The collection is primarily female dresses with artifacts from the late eighteenth century to a 2006 Comme des Garçons bag. “We really have a wide range. We have clothing and accessories, and the other thing that has recently developed is that we have a library of resources,” said Professor Carey. Reference books include “Ladies Godey’s Books” and twentieth century textile books.

In Fashion History I, Carey integrates the collection with the curriculum to enhance the academic experience for students in the class.

“[She] was always bringing in artifacts, which was really cool and hands-on. There’s only so many pictures and descriptions you can study,” says junior fashion design major Cailin Flannery, “…like corsets with all the lacings and the boning—so many intricate parts. Seeing it in person was definitely more beneficial.”

The Fashion Collection’s most recent project is transferring all The American Textile History Museum’s records, while updating the ones Lasell already owns. Another process within this project is photographing every artifact and digitalizing the entire collection onto an online database.

In addition to the fashion history courses, Professor Carey works with students who are taking the Collection Research Management course. “We do various projects associated with the collection. That could be writing a scholarly paper to presenting at a conference or exhibition work or producing publications,” said Carey.

Stephanie Herbert, former registrar worker for The American Textile History Museum, will be working with Professor Carey this summer to finish digitalizing the collection and organizing online records.

“Lasell has taken on approximately 1,200 pieces for the fashion collection from our historic collection. So as part of the closing process I am here to help get things organized,” said Herbert.

Her registrar position is another term for collection manager. Her duties consist of being in charge of overseeing exhibitions, storage, documentation, loans, or anything having to do with the movement of the collection.

The Fashion Collection is stored in quality-controlled rooms on the third floor of Donahue. The temperature and climate can be electronically monitored to preserve the garments. The garments are either hung up or wrapped in archival tissue paper and placed in archival boxes. The collection is currently over capacity.

“I think one of the most important things for fashion majors to understand is the only way we’re going to predict or come up with other fashion trends will be from learning what’s already happened,” said junior fashion communication major Sara Tuller.

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