Structuring Fashion Conference in Germany

Earlier this year, the September Structuring Fashion conference was announced in tandem with the Patterns of Fashion 5 book release. The conference was to be held in Munich, Germany, at the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum. I had to go! And I did, and it was wonderful. 

This was actually my first international trip by myself and my first trip to Germany.

The Symposium consisted of numerous talks presented by scholars and dress historians from all over the globe, as well as tours. I learned so much from these lectures, which I am excited to implement in our work going forward. Some highlights included a lecture about the history of woven corsetry in Heubach, Germany (where we later toured), Luca Costigliolo's lecture on stays drafting, and Jenny Tiramani's animated stories about Janet Arnold.

This conference was a great convergence of many of the prominent makers, authors, and historians in the fashion, corsetry, and costume fields. It was an absolute joy to see so many friends in one place, and meet mentors and idols in person for the first time. It was a bit dizzying to look around the reception lobby and see Ninya Mikhaila, Valerie Steele, Jane Greenwood, and so many others all in one place.

The connections and camaraderie were definitely a highlight of the conference. There were a lot of attendees, so I didn't get a chance to meet everyone though I would have liked to do so. 

During a quiet hour on the second day, I finally had time to explore the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum itself. The museum is a beautiful old building, with wide staircases and an air of history around every corner.

I had been so busy in the months leading up to the conference that I didn't have a chance to really look into the collection beforehand. And I had completely forgotten that they house the full wardrobe from the grave of Dorothea Sabina von Nuremberg--much less that it was on permanent display! 

When I was a teenager I read the Patterns of Fashion books cover to cover, studying every detail, especially those of Dorothea's gowns and stays as outlined by Janet Arnold. These were some of the first garments I studied via book. These are some of the oldest pieces of extant western womenswear in the world.

(Janet Arnold's line drawing from Patterns of Fashion 3)

And then some 15 years later, I walked into a completely empty gallery, with arching stone ceilings (I think, unless I imagined that part), creaking wooden floors, and walls covered in tapestry. There they were, right in front of me. 

I had a bit of a moment.

The rest of the trip included a wonderful dressing demonstration by the School of Historical Dress:

A behind the scenes look into the Bayerische Nationalmuseum's collection: 

(A funny moment where Jenny Tiramani asserts that Luca Costigliolo is the same size as the original owner of this doublet)

Beautiful new fashion exhibitions and tours from the curators at both the Bayerisches:


And the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg:


Lots of beer, food, and sightseeing antics with my travel partner Angela of Burnley & Trowbridge (who has more energy than all of us younger set put together, I swear!):


Beautiful sights and late night walks with friends: 

A visit to the Miedermuseum (corset museum) in Heubach, which will be its own post in the future.

And of course, THE BOOK. We received a last minute shipment of advanced copies of Patterns of Fashion 5, so some of us were able to take a copy home.

My full set of photos can be seen on Flickr .

My thanks to all involved in organizing this symposium, especially the curators and the School of Historical Dress. It was truly a highlight of my year, and my career thus far.

1 comment

  • Thank you very much for this great blog contribution.
    We hope seeing you again in Munich in 2019!

    Bayerisches Nationalmuseum

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