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  • Elizabeth Little

In Conversation with Amy de la Haye

Image courtesy of Amy de la Haye

Amelia’s Bloomers began as a final masters project at the London College of Fashion. LCF is filled with exciting opportunities to learn new things, expand our experiences, and meet new people. Recently we had the opportunity to chat with Amy de la Haye – author, museum curator, and professor at LCF. Discussing her favourite exhibitions and her love of writing, read what advice Amy has to give to the future generation of fashion.

AB: You’ve worked on curating over 30 exhibitions over your career, with your most recent one at FIT called, Ravishing: A Rose in Fashion. Have you had a favourite exhibition that you’ve curated and why?

AH: I think my favourite exhibition is always the next one. This week I am working with Simon Costin to finalise the object list for our collaboration called, 'Wild & Cultivated: Fashioning the Rose' which opens at The Garden Museum (London) next March. We will be showing work by Nick Knight ('Roses from my Garden') and Tim Walker alongside historical and contemporary fashion, botanical engravings and socio-cultural material on growing, selling and making roses. Our narratives will explore wild/cultivated and natural/un-natural and occupy the museum's outdoor and gallery spaces. It is a joy to work with this small, independent, museum whose curators do not impose 'house style' or other restrictions - we are, very excitingly being given a free reign so long as we meet deadlines and come in on budget. We are liaising with Emma House, a curator there whose exhibition on Derek Jarman's Garden won the Exhibition of the Year award for 2020.

AB: What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing a career in museum curation?

AH: Well... I would of course say this! Studying with exhibition maker Judith Clark and I on the MA Fashion Curation course at London College of Fashion is a very good route. Our students now have jobs with leading museums, archives, fashion houses and working as independent curators around the world. It is vital to obtain some hands-on experience, working with dress as a material object. Museum placements are ideal but not easy to obtain, especially since the pandemic. But, there are also other routes. Some of our students have had an amazing experience working with Kerry Taylor, the leading international specialist fashion auction house where they can very carefully handle historical dress (an opportunity they would rarely get in museum contexts). Employers are also looking for people who demonstrate how resourceful and resilient they are. Even setting up an Instagram account that communicates a particular curatorial angle/stance is a good idea.

AB: You’ve written a number of books. How easy is the transition from historian and curator to author?

AH: I have three practices - writing, curating and teaching and they are inextricably entwined. I love the balance of the collaborative nature of exhibition work and the solitary endeavour of writing. And, then sharing these experiences with students.

When I write I visualise making something, so the process is not unlike making an exhibition. Invariably, my projects (roses aside) are ignited by a desire to tell stories about one or a group of garments (usually worn that have personal biographies that extend beyond the point of making) or archival documents (such as the Worth and the Lucile archives housed at the V&A). I call most of my lectures 'Objects of a Passion'!

de la Haye’s upcoming exhibition, “Wild & Cultivated: Fashioning the Rose,” opens in March 2022 at the Garden Museum in London.


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