Google launches We Wear Culture platform

Google has just launched it’s new We Wear Culture platform — a must for anyone with even a passing interest in fashion.

This ambitious and groundbreaking project has seen Google collaborate with over one hundred and eighty of the worlds best museums to help document their priceless collections and bring them to a wider audience. Institutions such as the Palace of Versailles in France, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London have granted Google access to their entire fashion archives, and to collections that, combined, cover almost 3,000 years of human history. Of immense historical importance, many of these pieces are too delicate or valuable to be allowed out of storage rooms, so this Google project offers unprecedented access.

Travelling around each of the world-class museums, Google has photographed and documented the best of the collections, using the Google Art Camera, state-of-the-art technology that produces images measuring one gigapixel (one billion pixels). Thanks to the unrivalled clarity of the images, viewers can zoom into a single feather on an Alexander McQueen gown, or each stitch on a hand embroidered flower on a Chinese silk hat. Once photographed, the whole archive has been uploaded onto We Wear Culture, accessible via the app or the website.

It’s an invaluable resource, allowing unlimited browsing and research of the clothes that have, quite literally, shaped the way we dress.

From the archives of the V&A museum alone, 500 years of fashion have been documented, from 17th century gowns, Mantua dresses from the 18th century, and dresses from the 1920s and 1930s. Shoes, corsets, hats and other garments are on show, as are more modern creations by the likes of Christian Dior and Christobel Balenciaga. Giving timelines, information on materials and techniques, insights into hidden construction and behind-the-scenes stories, this is a fashion geek’s paradise.

Revolutionary techniques and innovative that have launched the careers of designers can now be examined and understood at leisure. Offering a proximity denied in museums — where all too often these exquisite pieces are sequestered in low level light behind protective Perspex — we can now get up close and personal with historical pieces, such as Chanel’s LBD, or Marilyn Monroe’s high heels.

Amit Sood, director of Google Arts & Culture, says: “We invite everyone to browse the exhibition on their phones or laptops and learn about the stories behind what you wear. You might be surprised to find out that your jeans or the black dress in your wardrobe have a centuries-old story. What you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”

The We Wear Culture platform is available online at g.co/wewearculture and through the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android.

smaisey@thenational.com