V&A and Europeana Fashion

What is Europeana Fashion?

Europeana Fashion is a unique digital resource representing over 700, 000 works of fashion content from Europe’s leading museums, fashion photographers, and private fashion archives. Co-funded under the CIP ICT-PSP programmes, Europeana Fashion has been developed over three years in collaboration with 22 partners from 13 countries in Europe.

Read more about the project here:

Europeana Fashion portal image

How has the V&A been involved?

Fashion is a key focus for the V&A and its audiences, from inspiring the designers-of-tomorrow with access to its extensive fashion collections and archives, to engaging its visitors with innovative exhibitions, such as Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.

The V&A has contributed over 9000 images and catalogue records of its collections spanning five centuries, and authored the intellectual property (IP) ‘best practice’ guidelines:

Europeana content delivery images

What have been the challenges of the project?

The project collectively has been ambitious on many levels due to varying databases, different languages, and different organisational approaches to providing content. For the V&A, the biggest challenges included:

  • Mapping V&A content to resource using the project’s aggregator tool
  • Identifying usable content within the V&A’s collections
  • Making risk-managed decisions on when to seek permission to use content featuring contemporary fashion

Key to successfully delivering content was being able to communicate with project partners via an online basecamp. In particular, ongoing hurdles with the aggregator software were addressed and improved with regular dialogue with the project lead and with other partners about shared experiences. Similarly the IP Guidelines were developed collaboratively at workshops and also online with partners.

The most time-consuming elements of the project concerned mapping V&A collections information to the aggregator tool. While the software became more sophisticated over three years, for the early part of the project we were in danger of compromising our information to fit the interface. This was avoided by making careful decisions from a user perspective and by drawing on the V&A’s experience of managing its collections online.

What are the benefits of the project?

Key benefits of the Europeana Fashion resource for the V&A include:

  • Featuring the V&A collections on a multi-lingual (13 languages) platform
  • Being involved in new ways to engage with users digitally in a more ‘open’ culture
  • Increased awareness of the V&A’s fashion collections with direct linking back to the V&A’s Search the Collections database
  • Being represented on a unique resource which is now collaborating at an international level
  • Recognising the V&A as a leader in practical rights management for best access and reuse of content


Roxanne Peters

Intellectual Property Manager/Europeana Fashion Project Manager, Victoria & Albert Museum, London