The number one question I get asked about this project is – “Why Sweden?” As in – “I’ve never even heard of Swedish fashion, why would you want to go there?” The truth is, I have intentionally chosen to stay away from major European centers of fashion (like Paris or London) in order to demonstrate just how pervasive fashion has been for the entirety of western civilization. If the entire (western) world was wearing ruffs or petticoat breeches or camouflage cargo pants, it must mean that there is an international identity of a time period, in addition to any specific national identity. I’m interested in exploring that evolving international definition of masculinity.
Sweden’s long, rich, and relatively stable political history makes it a perfect culture in which to investigate long-term fashion trends and their associated social and cultural beliefs. Perhaps the lack of palace-burning and memento-grabbing revolutions have added to the collections? One of my museum partners (The Royal Armoury Museum) is the oldest museum in Sweden, established by King Gustav II Adolph in 1628 after his decision to preserve the clothes he wore on his campaign in Poland. But, you know. Try to find a dress that Marie Antoinette wore. The sheer number of historical museums in Stockholm is astounding, and enough to keep a history nerd like me happy for a long time. My primary museum partners are the Royal Armory Museum, the Hallwyl Museum, the Army Museum, and the National Museum (all of which you can read about in the sub-tabs above,) but there is also the Museum of Medieval Stockholm, the Vasa Museum, the Nordic Museum, Gripsholm Castle, and the National Historical Museum, which I’m very much looking forward to exploring.
Stockholm University’s Centre for Fashion Studies offers one of the few PhD programs on fashion studies in the world, and there are numerous schools devoted to fashion design in the country. These educational models demonstrate the country’s academic interest in the cultural importance of fashion – a field which is growing rapidly.