Europe launches cross-border fashion project

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Some of the world’s most famous arts and design museums including London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and Paris’s Les Arts Décoratifs are set to begin sharing their resources online in a new fashion project funded by the European Union.  

According to the project website Europeana Fashion will “provide online access to outstanding fashion content from Europe’s leading museums and private fashion archives.” The first full version of the site will be available online from May 2, 2013, and will offer free full access to everyone as well as the re-use of its metadata under Creative Commons license.

According to the project’s leaders, Europeana is aimed at cultural heritage and leisure markets (general public, fashionistas, Wikipedians, etc.) and the creative industries (fashion professionals, designers, bloggers, etc.), as well as researchers and fashion students.

By March 2015 Europeana aims to have over 700,000 items of fashion-related digital content, including dresses, accessories, photographs, posters, drawings, sketches, videos, and fashion catalogues collated in their database. The project will also aim to build a multilingual Fashion Thesaurus allowing users to share knowledge of technical terms.

“Europeana will create a portal which fashion designers, along with anyone else who is interested in fashion, can use as a ‘one-stop shop,” Heather Caven, head of collections management and resource planning at the Victoria & Albert Museum told the New York Times.   

The project is organized by the Italian Fondazione Rinascimento Digitale, the Digital Renaissance Foundation based in Florence, and the majority of the €3.3 million budget was provided by the European Commission, with the remaining 20 percent of funds pooled together from the partner institutions. An agreement to create a Europeana Fashion Foundation has been signed, in order to continue the site beyond 2015.

The Europeana Fashion project is an offshoot of the original Europeana online archive, a five-year plan which has brought together more than 24 million cultural artifacts in digital form including Gutenberg’s Bible and the Mona Lisa by Da Vinci. 

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