Fashion History Lab

Led by Prof. Paula Hohti

Fashion History Lab is an Aalto ARTS-funded 1,5 year collaborative research initiative that examines how historians can work in the ‘laboratory’.
Collage of four images of miscellaneous items.
Three images courtesy of Paula Hohti. The image of the 17th-century green hunting jacket is from the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The main goal of the Fashion History Lab is to continue the work began with the Refashioning the Renaissance project and to investigate how digital reconstruction can be developed as a methodology in cultural historical research of dress and textiles. The project also carries out historical material experimentation. 

The main research aims are:   

  • To carry out experimental and scientific work on digital colour reconstruction, using reflectant spectrometry on textile/clothing samples to identify the composition and colourants and extract data about colours. 
  • To study and apply digital reconstruction methods in early modern dress history research, using 3D models of early modern garments.
  • To carry out material experimentation on historical textile techniques.

Our research focuses on the following themes:  

  1. Digital colour reconstruction. The scientific research is done in collaboration with HERCULES Laboratory, Portugal. 
  2. The Materiality of the Hunt: A Study of Early Modern Hunting Garments. This research is funded by the Janet Arnold Grant awarded by the Society of Antiquaries and conducted by Dustin Neighbors. 
  3. Purple colour: from Tyrian shell purple to synthetic dyes. Material experimentation and scientific analysis of historical dyes, including tests of historical weaving, dyes and the analysis of an 18th-cneutry a dress from the Silk Museum in San Floro, Calabria.

The project also organizes two elective teaching courses at School of Arts, Design and Architecture: 

  • Women and Power through Fashion: Past and Present (3 ECTS, Spring 2023, Neighbors).
  • Living colour – an intensive, experimental, cross-disciplinary course on natural dyes and dyeing (3 ECTS, Summer 2023, Mantua-Kommonen). 


Paula Hohti, PI, Methods of digital reconstruction, material experimentation

Dustin Neighbors, Digital reconstruction, early modern hunting garments

Kirsi Mantua-Kommonen, Natural and chemical dyes

Elise Piquemal, Historical weaving

The Fashion History Lab team would like to extend a special ‘thank you’ to the following individuals and organisations that have shared their research and been valuable collaborators:

Aalto ARTS

Janet Arnold Grant/Society of Antiquaries, UK

HERCULES Laboratory, Portugal

Livrustkammaren (Royal Armouries), Sweden

Royal Dress Collection with Historic Royal Palaces, UK

Prelle, France

Silk Museum and Nido di Seta, Italy

Cleveland Museum of Art, USA

Dr Berit Hildebrandt, University of Hannover, Germany

Mohamed Ghasse Nouira

Riksarkivet (National Archives), Sweden

Please get in touch if you want more information, have any questions, or want to discuss a collaboration. You can get in touch with us by emailing the individual researcher. Be sure to check us out on Twitter at @FashionHistLab.

Dr Dustin M. Neighbors

This service is provided by:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

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