Industry Interview: Greta Pawlowski, Aquascutum Archivist
Our Industry Interview this week is a very special interview with Greta Pawlowski, who works at established UK label Aquascutum as their Company Archivist. Read on to find out how she got her position, what trends she predicts will be big and advice for getting into archiving.
How did you arrive at your current position at Aquascutum?
In fact, I did not set out to be a fashion archivist. This is not a job you could train for. It is probably the mix of experiences that led to this position. It started with digitising a private 18th century collection and doing research in that era. This is where I got the major skills.
I always loved well made garments, from the days my grandmother took me with her when she went to see her tailor to meeting a fashion historian who could spend hours talking about her love affair with the swiftness of creases and silks in the dresses the ladies wear in a Watteau painting. I love the opera and was once asked to consult for the private archive of Australian stage and costume designer Barry Kay. That was the final step, I suppose, that brought me to Aquascutum.
What advice would you give to people interested in fashion archiving?
Develop your taste independently from trends. Stick with the timeless but know what is going on around you. The archive here, unlike most others, is half media office and half cabinet of company memories. You stand in the middle and have to make sure the heritage is represented in a crisp and contemporary way.
Be meticulous in your memory, remember the tiniest detail. You will get asked about anything at literally any moment, from traditional stitches to complex occurences in cultural history. Google & Co. are your enemies, you'll have to know your things and make connections quickly.
What was the most exciting/interesting thing that happened this week?
Sourcing the right outfit. I got an invitation to a ball in a very grand place. So far, all went well, a powder pink silk gown, silver princess shoes, but I am still looking for the right pair of evening gloves. A tricky detail.
Which trends do you think are going to be big in the next few months?
With the latest global events, there sure will be a turn towards purism and traditional value. Less flamboyance and opulence.
I am also rather certain that the influence of science and technology on fashion will be more prominent. Quite recently there was the Nobel Textiles exhibition at the ICA that made us aware of the endless possibilities in the marriage of science and design that will give us new fabrics, textures and ways to dress.
What are you wearing to death at the moment?
A pair of unbelievably soft black cashmere gloves I found in our flagship store last year. They are as dear to me as gold dust. A pink brooch given to me last Christmas. Whenever I wear it good luck is around. Black shift dresses. A fashion archivist's uniform.
What was the last book you read/album you listened to?
I was at the opening of the 'Magnificence of the Tsars' at the V&A. The accompanying catalogue is amazing. A compilation of Japanese O-Koto music given by a friend.