‘Enhancing students’ experience and understanding of  Screen Archive South East’s collection through examining fashion and clothing on film’

Screen Search Fashion header image


The selected themes in this online resource guide you through the Screen Archive South East collections, using stills and clips from the archive.  Here you can discover more about the different types of clothing worn in the films, and their historical and design contexts. There are links to records in the online database, where the films can be explored in further detail, as well as links to related resources held in archives, libraries and museums.  It also provides a bibliography of related literature and a glossary of terms.

The Young Squire's Wedding at Warnham Court (1923)


This resource was created in 2009 and is the result of a year long, CETLD-funded project, carried out at the Royal College of Art and Screen Archive South East, at the University of Brighton.

The resource forms a legacy of the project and is no longer regularly updated.

The Screen Archive South East’s online collection continues to grow and more films and film records are added regularly. Browse the archive’s Fashion theme, or search the whole collection for fashion and dress history across the 20th century.

[J. Klingenberg’s wedding 2] (1937)


Screen Search Fashion was a collaborative project established in 2009 between the Royal College of Art (RCA) and the Screen Archive South East (SASE) at the University of Brighton. The project focused on the creation of enhanced film descriptions and a connected thematic resource. This comprised web-based learning routes focused on 1920s and 1930s fashion, as seen in archive film, and serves as a complementary resource to the archive’s existing online database.  The project united the SASE archivists’ skills in cataloguing, organisation and online data presentation with the RCA fashion historians’ knowledge of 1920s and 1930s dress, and its analysis and use within teaching and learning.

The project created an online teaching and learning resource that is accessible to all, and which enables a fascinating collection, which has hitherto been underused for fashion research, to be opened up to a wider audience. The vast potential of non-fiction film as a resource for students interested in fashion and dress is highlighted by the project’s outputs, and because the resource is online, it has the potential to contribute to dress historians’ developing interest in everyday fashions.

This project has ended and the resource remains as its legacy. However the resource is no longer regularly updated. The Screen Archive South East’s online collection continues to grow and more films and film records are added regularly. Browse the archive’s Fashion theme, or search the whole collection for fashion and dress history across the 20th century.

This project was designed to expand the content of SASE and widen access to it for practice-based students. Many students are unsure how to access or use film archives, so this project aimed to develop SASE’s online resource in relation to their research and learning needs. This was done through close analysis of a representative sample from the collection of films from the inter-war years. Clothing-related aspects were identified within each film. These aspects were then interpreted and placed within their historical and design context. The information identified has been formulated within a suitable metadata structure, taking into consideration practice-based students needs and making this information accessible and stimulating for them.

The resulting self-contained learning resource has been developed as part of a pedagogical framework emerging from the project’s consultative workshops. The resource enhances the archive’s effectiveness as a tool in learning and research, and widens its accessibility to those in higher education, in line with CETLD’s objectives. Non-fiction film is currently under-used by practice-based students, despite its rich evidence of a variety of clothing styles. This resource therefore has the potential to extend the boundaries of the discipline.

The productive exchange of ideas between academics, film archivists and practice-based design and design history students, encountered within the workshops, served to encourage debate, comparison and dialogue about how such resources can be used within design education and promote innovative pedagogical strategies to incorporate the archive’s holdings. Students’ reactions to the resource as it is developed were observed and helped to shape the project’s progress. The virtual environment, therefore, has been developed as a learning space, as well as a research resource.

This resource will extend the collection’s potential use to a wider community of academic researchers. The template that it has established will potentially be transferable to other themes within the collection (e.g. architecture), and could also be exploited by other archives, museums and libraries that want to achieve the same goals.

[Garden Fete at Broughton House] (1926)


The Design History Department at the RCA is committed to excellence in research within this field. It provides a context for scholars working on internally and externally funded projects concerning various aspects of design history and consolidates experience gained from running the major AHRC-funded Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior (2001-06). The CETLD-funded project Domestic Interiors Online resource: A Resource for Teaching and Learning through Design is based here, which in turn provides a contextual and experiential base for the current proposed project.

SASE’s collection was established in 1992 at the University of Brighton as a regional screen archive holding over 11000 films and 10,000 lanternslides dating from the nineteenth century to the present day. It locates, collects, preserves and provides access to screen material relating to the South East and of relevance to screen history in general. Its online database, was funded through a three year AHRC grant and launched in 2006. The current online database provides access to information on over 3000 films from the archive collections and over 1200 streamed video clips.

Project leader:
Rebecca Arnold (RCA)

Other team members:
Carly Eck, Hannah Kauffman (RCA);
Frank Gray, Elaine Sheppard, Ine Van Dooren (SASE)

Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design – CETLD