Guest blog: Project manager, Emily Malcolm talks about the final part of the Fabric of Life Project

“Fashion is what one wears oneself; what is unfashionable is what other people wear”. Oscar Wilde

Some of you may be following WYAPs final project, the Fabric of Life. The HLF funded project saw over 60 young people research the history of fashion as a form of identity, paying particular attention to gender and sexuality. They visited the V&A as well local museums and the Fashion Museum, Bath. Through their research they discovered eras of fashion where men and women dressed almost identically as well as identifying LGBT role models from our past.

In November all of the research was brought together in an event at Trowbridge Town Hall. The event included art installations that told us a bit about LGBT icons of the past, drama that let us experience Oscar Wilde’s trial and dance that explored the role of women’s fashion in history.

So, why did we choose to create an LGBT heritage project? With 2017 being the 50th anniversary of the sexual offences act 1967 we thought it was important for young people to explore LGBT history. Some, but not all, of the young people involved in the project identify as members of the LGBT community. Everyone involved considered themselves allies of the LGBT community. The young people involved were surprised that some people that came up in our research were people that they had heard of but they weren’t aware of their personal lives. They were also interested to find out that in the past boys wore dresses as well as girls when they were children and that it used to be boys that wore pink and girls that wore blue. The research inevitably made us look at where we are today and we were all surprised at how others seemed to be looking at the same subject, BBC 2s No More Boys and Girls documentary that was aired over the summer. John Lewis followed this by labelling all of their children’s clothes as Boys and Girls.

Now we have one final task to complete in the form of a resource for schools. We worked with the young people involved in the project and have consulted with teachers which has led to a new resource that doesn’t see LGBT history as a standalone subject. As well as a timeline and glossary of terms we have worked on creating a list of people and ideas that will fit in to curriculum subjects so it can be a part of what is already being taught in the classroom. The young people involved in the project thought this was really important. The resource will be launched on the 28th February 2018 and can be downloaded from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre website.

Emily Malcolm
Project Coordinator Fabric of Life

Editor’s note: Previous Fabric of Life project blogs tell the full story:

The Fabric of Life blog 1 / Fabric of Life blog 2 – One Week, Three Museums! / Fabric of Life blog 3 – The V&A … Three times! / Fabric of Life blog 4- Theatre, Gender and Sexuality / Fabric of Life blog 5 – So Far … / Fabric of Life blog 6 – Summer is over / Fabric of Life blog 7 – come and see the finale

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