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The cultural catwalk: 5000+ new works in the Cultural Institute

The past few weeks, Fashion Week in New York, London, Paris and Milan have given us a feast for the eyes with parades of creativity, color and design. At the Cultural Institute (follow us on G+ here), we're putting on a fashion show of a different kind with new content from 36 partners. Many of these cultural treasures, from China, Hungary, Mexico and 16 other countries, have a strong link to fashion and design through the ages.

Fabrics are the starting point of many designs. You can see this in the wonderful costumes added by the Textile Museum of Canada to the Google Art Project. Highlights include a kimono from Japan, a cape from Polynesia and an 1800s jacket with beautiful detail from Greece. The creation of these fabrics is highly skilled work; in an online exhibition, The Craft Revival Trust gives us an insight into the 5,000-year-old Indian textile tradition which creates the prints, motifs and colors that are still used today, while the The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg exhibits quilts of delicate beauty.

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If regalia and royal jewels are more your thing, then then be sure to see new exhibits from La Venaria Reale in Italy and the Palace of Versailles in France. Zoom in at brushstroke level to the gigapixel painting of Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia to appreciate the jewellery, metallics, fabrics and lace of the King’s royal mantle, scepter and crown. And accessories were as important in the 17th century as they are today: an online exhibition entitled “Louis XIV: the construction of a political image” curated by experts in Versailles features an amazing wax portrait moulded from the monarch’s face, complete with a real wig.

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The fashion world has long taken inspiration from tribal traditions. In a new photographic archive named "African ceremonies,” the diversity and beauty of 100+ unique African cultures is on full display—the work of two world-class artists who spent 30 years criss-crossing the continent. From the painted Karo Dancers of Ethiopia to The Hands of the Ashanti King, you'd be hard-pressed to find more elaborate body art and ceremonial dress.

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You can also browse the interiors of the first two museums in China to open their doors to Street View; enjoy our first collection of children’s art from Norway; learn about Sumatra’s Pustaha book of spells reflecting the wisdom of nine generations of magicians; or simply sit back and let yourself be taken on a tour by a museum director through one of the 12 new galleries they’ve created. With 5,400 new items to explore, there’s some style inspiration for all of us!

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