When COVID-19 locked down the world, our senses were thrown into disarray. The virus snatched smell and taste as it made its way from person to person, place to place. Touch became something that wasn't only advised against, but prohibited altogether. The longer we were locked inside our Zoom squares, the more we all craved the physical sensations we once took for granted; the brush of a stranger's shoulder on a busy street or the embrace of a loved one. Our world became increasingly digital; fashion designers turned to fashion film more than ever before and created virtual spaces and digital runways complete with 3D avatars for models, showing the exciting potentials of what our future might look like. But, 17 arduous months later, the tactility of fashion and life remains. And so, we'd like to introduce you to Archivist Addendum, a publication dedicated to the importance and intricacy that only physical materials and objects can evoke. Senses are not only awakened after lying dormant for so long but they are stimulated. This is what Archivist Addendum is all about: the art of looking, touching, feeling.
Is it a book or a box? A publication or a project? Archivist Addendum is whatever you want it to be. A publishing project free from the confines of a bound periodical, it's non-seasonal and multi-format, occupying 'the nascent space between standardised fashion editorial and arcane academe.' A product of lockdown, worked on by founders Jane Howard, Dal Chodha with the help of Rebecca Arnold and Judith Clark, Archivist Addendum is as much about the reader's journey and experience as it is about the content. Essentially a magazine (just not entirely in the traditional sense), Archivist Addendum is presented in an A4 slim box that contains unbound pieces of stray paper, clippings and ephemera. Its form straddles between a box and a book, bringing together both ideas while still managing to be neither at the same time. A modern take on the traditional magazine format, written down the side of the box (where the spinal column would usually be) is Archivist Addendum, so in the words of fashion historian Rebecca Arnold 'because it says archivist addendum on the spine, it's a bit like a book, but it's not a book it's a box.' Why can't it be both? The contents are the final outputs of Fashion Interpretations: Dress, Medium & Meaning, an international, interdisciplinary network that looked at the relationship between dress, medium and meaning, and its relation to society, led by Rebecca Arnold of The Courtauld Institute of Art and Judith Clark of London College of Fashion. So, where does this leave Chodha and Howard's all-important input? It's all in the name.
In the 137th episode of the podcast Bande à Part - run by Rebecca Arnold & Beatrice Behlen - Arnold reveals to Behlen that the periodical is an extension of Archivist magazine. A project that Chodha and Howard used to run together, Archivist existed as a non-seasonal publication with a unique view on the fashion industry, dedicated to showcasing designers' archives, personal collections and new emerging talent. As for 'Addendum'? Well, Oxford's definition is that an 'Addendum' is 'an item of additional material added at the end of a book or other publication.' There seems to be no better name than the one fittingly chosen, when you finger through Archivist Addendum to find that, as well as being an amalgamation of several other things, it's the next stage in the revolution of Archivist magazine.
The publication's beauty doesn't just lie in appearance though, the photographs, illustrations, academic texts, and notes provided are indeed visually stunning, but they're equally as thought-provoking. You'll find writings that dissect the interplay between illustration and photography in interwar issues of American Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, courtesy of Arnold, and handsome archival fashion illustrations - the Dali-inspired Schiaparelli shoe hat (1937-1938) and whimsical 'Tear' dress (1938) included. There's a small booklet, made from slightly shinier paper, entitled Certain Old Things which introduces Leanne Shapton's watercolours and photographs inspired by people's clothes as well as an introduction by Elizabeth Kutesko on Claude Lévi-Strauss' candid snapshots of São Paulo circa 1935 to 1937 as a study of a city and its people. Lisa Cohen writes about clothing and loss while Roman Kurzmeyer reflects on German art historian Aby Warburg in a piece titled 'Exhibiting Thinking'. There's plenty more, but we won't spoil it for you; you'll just have to see for yourself.
In a time where the print industry is desperately struggling to stay afloat, what with newsagents shutting down and publications folding inwards, Archivist Addendum is like nothing else on the newsstands as we look to what the future holds for an art form so many of us still hold dear. Rather than being another bit of fashion content thrown into the void, the project provides a different reading each time, challenging how we as the reader should interact with such an intimate periodical.
Lover of all things print, revelling in the intimacy that print formats have to offer, Christina Donoghue spoke with Howard and Chodha about their venture and why they decided to break free from the ordinary constraints of a book format.
Christina Donoghue: With Archivist Addendum, there is no guarantee to the order of the papers inside. Why is this, and what conversations did you both have with Judith Clark and Rebecca Arnold on curating the issue in this way?
Jane Howard and Dal Chodha: The original inspiration for Archivist Addendum came from an old Marni boot box that Jane started using in the early 00s to keep ephemera that was fetishised at the time; invites, flyers, tickets, postcards. It has travelled with her since then but has remained uninterrupted – she has not added anything new to it for a decade. It has show invites inside, envelopes with the address of where she was working, old vinyl records given to her, newspaper cuttings and Polaroids from fittings when she worked at Prada and Miu Miu with David Bradshaw. They each hold their own memories forher, meaning that the contents of the box are a random but complete archive of a certain period of her life and career.
CD: What is it about printed matter that compelled you to experiment with it for Archivist Addendum?
JH: Over lockdown I had the time and space to look through the box again and that gave me the feeling of what I we wanted for Archivist Addendum; something to show and talk someone through. It made sense and I think gave the Fashion Interpretations project a new energy that brought the diverse outcomes together.
JH and DH: With everyone in different countries, working in confinement, it became a solid singular thing that we all knew we were contributing too. Impetus to fill a box that didn’t yet exist.
CD: What’s the purpose of Archivist Addendum in an increasingly digitised world?
JH and DC: It’s good to hold and touch something. To spend time with it. To go back and look again. To be able to leave it somewhere for days or weeks or years. A capsule of a time. You can’t get this experience online – it has to be physical to give the work the time and space it deserves. It is not a fleeting thing. We have a yearning to experiment and use other papers, finishes, formats. There are so many ideas that we have not put into this first ‘issue’ that we hope to manifest in future projects – we are used to working at a slower pace, taking the time work like this needs. Brexit and COVID made the process tricky to navigate but again, it shaped a lot of our thinking about what a publication ought to be and do.
CD: How did you decide on the name ‘Archivist Addendum’?
JH and DC: We called the project Archivist Addendum because it is ‘an item of additional material added at the end of a book or other publication’ (i.e. our previous project Archivist). Archivist was a bound publication using the same font, same paper, same output and as beautiful as it was (and still is), it created restrictions that we became bored of. We like that we’ve moved away from that but still hold the concept of no advertising and no current fashion and an immense respect for academic research and thinking.
What we present can be seen as ‘ready for print’ but it is a tool for learning. It’s all there laid out and categorised with titles and credits, ready to be distributed amongst friends and peers or just stuck to a wall. Each project holds its own space but with the potential of being part of a much bigger story.