Library Journal, February 2021

By Gricel Dominguez

“Another rich addition to Bloomsbury’s fashion collection (...) ideal for academic and professional institutions that support studies relevant to fashion (history, industry, and design) and the arts.”

Part of the growing Bloomsbury Fashion collection, the Bloomsbury Fashion Video Archive features more than 3,000 videos from the YOOX–NET-A-PORTER Runway Archive Collections. Documenting fashion from 1979 to 2003, the collection highlights one of the most significant eras in 20th-century fashion and looks at influential and provocative shows, designers, and models.

With scholarly articles curated by Valerie Steel, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the database establishes connections among shows, trends, and designers, and features the work of more than 460 international designers and 100-plus designer biographies. Identifying key styles and trends, the resource explores movements through the decades and follows the work of major fashion houses and independent labels while considering the role of fashion in the wider sphere of society and politics.

Users will find it easy to dive right in. A “where to start” section highlights a small collection of important designers. Also provided are links to “featured content” and a time line of shows ranging from 1980 to 2000.

Beyond the basic search bar, users can access an advanced search that allows them to add additional fields and/or search across multiple areas (anywhere, title, author/editor/creator, summary/abstract, category, identifier) and to limit searches by year or content type (article, designer biography, or video).

A search for “Versace,” for instance, yields 69 results, including 53 videos, 11 articles, and five designer biographies, which can be refined by limiters that include the content types listed above, as well as organizations and design houses; period; people; place; dress type; textiles, materials, and color; fashion business; themes; and design and making.

Each video includes a brief description of the show and featured designer(s), along with details on the fashions and supermodels wearing them, as well as other information (video length, content type, organizations and design houses, period, people, place, dress, design and making. A DOI is available for each record), and users can quickly access related videos from a list of related content or navigate to a previously viewed video.

Most of the videos have no sound, but captions and transcripts describe the fashions. For articles, a list of subjects makes it easy for users to find similar or related content. Users can save, print, share, and cite articles and videos. The absence of a “back to results” link makes returning a little awkward, but a click of the back button works just as effectively.

Those unsure where to start can use the “explore archive” tab to narrow content by “year and season,” “brand,” “people,” and “location.” Clicking on “brand,” for instance, results in a list of organizations and design houses, arranged alphabetically, from Abe Hamilton to Zandra Rhodes. The number of items associated with each designer is marked beside the name.

Users can save videos to a personal account by clicking a star-shaped “save” icon. Clicking “browse content” lets users explore the collection by record type, such as “designer in focus pages,” videos, articles, and designer biographies. The “designer in focus” section profiles top international designers, including Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, and Betty Jackson. Each page features a brief paragraph about the designer, a link to a longer biography, and videos of fashion shows.

The designer biographies section features 91 profiles, each providing background on the designer’s history, work, associated labels, and more.

Finally, in addition to the various search and browse options, users can explore a time line spanning 1980 through 2004 that highlights events relating to designers and brands (the death of Gianni Versace in 1997), art and pop culture (Cher wearing a Bob Mackie design to the 1986 Oscars), and history and culture (the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991), with links to relevant videos.

Bloomsbury Fashion Video Archive is available for purchase by perpetual access ($14,558 to $38,723 with an annual hosting fee of between $200 and $600) or by subscription ($2,426 to $6,454), with pricing based on size and type of institution, and discounts available from consortia. Future platform content updates will be included in annual hosting fee or subscription price, and current Berg Fashion Library subscribers will have their hosting fee waived.

Another rich addition to Bloomsbury’s fashion collection, the archive is easy to search, regardless of users’ subject knowledge. Captions and transcripts support accessibility when reviewing videos, and the focus pages and designer biographies offer insight into the fashion industry, major labels, and movements. This selection is ideal for academic and professional institutions that support studies relevant to fashion (history, industry, and design) and the arts.

Gricel Dominguez is a librarian at Florida International University Library, Miami.

See the review on the Library journal site