Claire Wilcox has worked as a curator in Fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum for most of her working life. She and her colleagues catalogue and conserve clothes centuries old, choosing garments from the V&A’s unrivalled fashion archives to put on permanent display, she relies on touch as well as sight, exploring clothes through her fingertips - the tiny ridge where a dressmaker’s pin has been left in a hem, the textural change where a seam has been altered, the presence of dirt trapped in a cuff that will eventually damage.
In Patch Work, she gives insight into the mind of a curator, stepping into the archive of objects and the archive of memory. She stitches together her expert knowledge of fashion with the story of her own life to create a patchwork of reflections: her mother’s black wedding suit, the Delphos gowns stored in her favourite archive in the museum, the fairy wings her daughter wore in hospital, her aunt’s handmade blue-and-white gingham bikinis, printed English cotton dresses from the 1830s. Patch Work celebrates how clothes allow us to fashion ourselves and are woven through with memory.