Are you wearing jeans today? Is there a floral tie or a black dress hanging in your wardrobe? Remember those platform shoes from the ‘90s? These have one thing in common: They all tell a story, sometimes spanning hundreds of years of history.
As the legendary Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland once said, “You can even see the approaching revolution in clothes. You can see and feel everything in clothes.” That’s one reason we’re excited to unveil “We wear culture,” a new project on Google Arts & Culture that brings you the stories behind the clothes you wear.
More than 180 museums, fashion institutions, schools, archives and other organizations from the fashion hubs of New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, São Paulo and elsewhere came together to put three millennia of fashion at your fingertips. You can browse 30,000 fashion pieces: try searching for hats and sort them by color or shoes by time. In 450+ exhibits, you can find stories from the ancient Silk Road to the ferocious fashion of the British punk. Or meet icons and trendsetters like Coco Chanel, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent or Vivienne Westwood.
We’ve also created virtual reality films bringing to life the stories of iconic pieces. Step inside the places where fashion history lives on YouTube or with a virtual reality viewer:
- Find out how Chanel’s black dress made it acceptable for women to wear black on any occasion (Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France - 1925)
- Step on up—way up—to learn how Marilyn Monroe’s sparkling red high heels became an expression of empowerment, success and sexiness for women (Museo Salvatore Ferragamo from Florence, Italy - 1959)
- See designer Vivienne Westwood's unique take on the corset, one of the most controversial garments in history (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK - 1990)
- Discover the Comme des Garçons sweater and skirt with which Rei Kawakubo brought the aesthetics and craftsmanship of Japanese design onto the global fashion stage (Kyoto Costume Institute, Kyoto, Japan - 1983)
There's more to clothes than meets the eye. See how shoemakers, jewellers, tie-dyers and bag-makers master their crafts through generations, turning design sketches and tailoring patterns into clothes you can wear. Zoom into ultra-high resolution images made with our Art Camera and see the craftsmanship in unprecedented detail, like this famous Schiaparelli evening coat, a surrealist drawing turned into a bold fashion statement. Step inside the world’s largest costume collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory in 360 degrees, and see what it takes to preserve these objects for future generations. Explore the machinery that keeps one of the largest industries in the world in motion and meet the communities that are built on the production of textiles, like the Avani Society in India.
We also teamed up with YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen to go through the wardrobe and discover even more stories behind the clothes you wear today. Before you hide under your hoodie or put on a pair of ripped jeans, hop over to our YouTube channel to take a closer look at the historic thread running through today's fashions.
“We wear culture” is now live and online at g.co/wewearculture and through the Google Arts & Culture mobile app on iOS and Android. With this project, the world of fashion joins more than a thousand institutions of art and history that share their collections on Google Arts & Culture, letting you explore even more of our culture in one place. Click away and you’ll see how fashion is stitched into the fabric of our societies. And join in the conversation on social media with #WeWearCulture!