Behind the Most Popular Fashion Instagram Archive Accounts

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The collages of posters, magazine clippings, and polaroids plastered all over the walls of teens’ bedrooms hint at what the younger generation considered “cool” at the time—most likely, celebrity, band, film, artist, or designer XYZ. Today, a group of digitally savvy users are emulating the same level of obsession on Instagram through finstas, fan pages, and strong endorsements. At least that’s what 22 year old Ketevan Gagoshidze did when he first founded @datewithversace in 2018, an account entirely dedicated to documenting his fascination with digital memorabilia of Italian luxury homes that he has accumulated over the years.

Think about it: interview clippings featuring pearls of wisdom from founder Gianni Versace himself, editorials from the ’90s that featured OG supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista redesigning now only available on vintage resale websites, and crass-but-true fashion show videos. obvious. from the moment the live stream is absent. To fill his feed, Gagoshidze, based in Tbilisi, Georgia, scoured the internet high and low for Versace relics that gave him nostalgia for times that happened even before he was born. “In fashion, you need to know the archive, because it contains a lifetime,” he told ELLE.com. “Everything new is something old.”

Date with Versace is just one of many archival accounts on Instagram personifying the sentiment this setback is fueling, not just on Thursdays, but throughout the year. Curated by fashion buffs next door, they are ‘the gram-friendly equivalent of history books eaten by digital natives, and, in some cases, industry insiders and even brands themselves. Case in point: Dating Versace has a large following that includes his house and matriarch, Donatella Versace.

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The only rule is that there are no rules; curators are not required to post every day, and they have full control over what and when to post. This archive account does not rely on paid partnerships or sponsorships with brands, nor is there any inclination to do so. Essentially, each page functions as a digital time capsule built from pure passion and passion.

“Come to think of it, [fashion archive accounts] always exists in some form or form—on Tumblr, and before, in scrapbooks and diaries,” says John Matheson, curator behind @McQueen_Vault, which he describes as “Alexander McQueen’s social collage”. He added: “Instagram is a clear evolutionary step, and now it’s even migrating to TikTok. It is only a matter of time before the current medium in which it exists will develop; it was the zeitgeist of what happened at that time.”

While his online awards only appeared in 2018, Matheson has been a loyal follower of McQueen’s work since 1996, when he first saw one of the British designer’s most prolific shows: Dante. Little did he know that watching this 27 minute show on TV would result in many trips to the office Atlas Magazine and National Geographic for references and press clippings that allow him to (very) carefully dissect McQueen’s work. Currently, Matheson spends his days sharing the same resources to help higher institutions with their research background. In fact, he’s consulted about an upcoming exhibition of McQueen’s work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA), which opened last month.

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Embedding McQueen Vault as a goldmine of images to view and then scroll through will detract from the essence of why Matheson started archiving. “McQueen isn’t just a social media moment or post for me,” he said matter-of-factly. “He firmly stands for who he is in the industry: a gay man who goes against the norm. He was heavily seeded and fought for the resistance. Very few have the emotional appeal he has.”

Just like McQueen, many pioneering couture moguls have left us. The absences of Thierry Mugler, Virgil Abloh, Albert Elbaz, and Karl Lagerfeld have left a clear void in the industry; forces us to turn the page on an iconic chapter of what was before. The phrase, “There will never be another like you” precedes most tributes in their honor, indicating the magnitude of the irreparable loss. Perhaps archival accounts subconsciously fill some of that void by reminiscing about an era and its innovators. During times of loss, they provide a beacon of familiarity and comfort, something to hold onto in the storms of novelty that flood our feed.

“It’s important for the next generation to know that characters like Karl Lagerfeld and Lee Alexander McQueen are here,” said Rodrigo Valderrama, John Galliano’s stylist and fan, who articulates his fashion fandom through @diorinthe2000s. Speaking from Chile, the 24-year-old laughed over the phone while reflecting on his account’s mundane origins back in 2016. “My phone’s memory reached its capacity, thanks in large part to the millions of images stored while John Galliano was at Dior,” he says. “I needed to transfer it somewhere else, so I started posting my archive collection on Instagram. I didn’t mean to build a narrative, but it just exploded.”

Paris fashion week 2005 dior haute couture

Model Alek Wek walks the runway for Dior’s fall/winter 2005/2006 haute couture collection during Paris Fashion Week.

Toni Anne Barson ArchivesGetty Images

Valderrama admits to not being as active on @diorinthe2000s as he used to be, but refuses to apologize about it. He achieved what he wanted by reinforcing his love of fashion theatrics, especially through the lens of the incredible John Galliano, in the minds of his 91.9 thousand followers (including Bella Hadid, who modeled for the house).

Ryan McMahon, 25 years behind @chanel_archives, taking a similar approach. “I started this platform to provide insight into the undercovered, or inaccessible, Chanel collections as demonstrated in the mid-90s,” he said. “I find it more interesting when people want to be given directions about a brand and not just follow through to see pretty clothes. Even if you’re not into fashion, there’s always something you can grab after watching a Chanel show.”

The archive page will always serve as a window into the past, but that doesn’t negate its relevance today in the ever-evolving ecosystem of fashion brands.

With fashion’s supersonic evolution and constant reshuffling of visionaries at its helm, today’s takeaways are too easily swept up in the news cycle, and are a challenge to remember or digest the who, what, why, and where of last season. “There’s a certain rhythm to the brand that people are familiar with,” Matheson added. “Especially in the ’90s, there were so many moments that Karl Lagerfeld created for Chanel that had an instant timestamp—you could tell by the belt, the model, the jewelry, the tweed, the music. It packs such a punch and takes you right back. ”

The archive page will always serve as a window into the past, but that doesn’t negate its relevance today in the ever-evolving ecosystem of fashion brands. With their hind legs firmly entrenched in heritage, and forelegs looking to the future, the act of archiving builds cultural momentum for brands in the digital age while honoring their roots.

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