This blog was written by industry placement student, Clare Harlow.

Want to know what Monks in 1100 thought of men that wore pointed shoes? The history of headscarves and their persecution in Western fashion? Head to toe! The history of hats, hemlines, and heel heights are available at your fingertips through Berg Fashion Library.

State Library Victoria members can access hundreds of databases from home (if your home is in Victoria). That’s millions of articles, magazines, archives, ebooks, videos, songs, audiobooks and more, available through the catalogue anytime. We’re taking a closer look at new and/or interesting databases as well as hidden gems from our collections. Read on for top picks and tips from librarians.

Not a member yet? Sign up online first and reward your curiosity.

Today we’re looking at Berg Fashion Library part of Bloomsbury fashion central.

Berg provides access to multiple resources in the areas of fashion, anthropology, cultural studies, history, sustainability and more. The database includes ebooks, museum collections, lesson plans, subject guides, timelines, and an award-winning encyclopedia collection.

Two images of a full skirt dress with sequined petal style design. First image is full dress, second image is a close up of the sequined petals.
Christian Dior Dress: Junon from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Encyclopedia and ebooks

Berg Fashion Library‘s encyclopedia of world dress and fashion was the 2011 winner of the Dartmouth Medal from the American Library Association for reference work of outstanding quality and significance. This encyclopedia includes 2000 images and more than 800 articles exploring dress and bodily adornment worn throughout history. With a strong focus on cross-cultural and interdisciplinary issues the encyclopedia offers a window into the rich and complex topic of global fashion. The collection includes ten volumes divided by geographical regions, and two companion texts to help support understanding of concepts, influences, and practitioners of the fashion phenomenon.

Berg Fashion Library Encyclopedia and Reference – Bloomsbury Fashion Central

In addition to the encyclopedias Berg fashion library offers access to more than 190 academic ebooks that include classic and modern writings on fashion. Titles include Acts of Undressing by Barbara Brownie, Fashion Under Fascism by Eugenia Paulicelli, The Social Life of Kimono by Sophie Woodward, and many more.

Subject guides

Berg offers users subject guides, shortcuts to documents listing relevant sources of information including articles, business cases, eBook chapters, lesson plans, photography archive articles, images, and video content to find the material needed from across the vast database available. The available subject guides are:

  • Anthropology of Fashion
  • Asian Fashion
  • Subcultures
  • Fashion and Sustainability
  • Muslim Dress
  • Fashion and Art
Subject guides from Berg Fashion Library


Berg Fashion Library offers an interactive timeline tool to scroll through fashion history. With images and information from museum exhibitions, textbooks, and academic articles, this is a quick and visual way to see the highlights of fashion and how it impacts and is impacted by economics, politics, religion, culture, and technology.

Timeline of Global Dress and Fashion from Berg Fashion Library
Example of the Timeline of Global Dress and Fashion from Berg Fashion Library in use

Museum collection

Berg Fashion Library provides it users with digital access to over 50 museums, with more than 17,000 images from across the globe. The Atelier Musée du Chapeau in France, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, all share their collections to show how the influence of the fashion and textiles industry can be felt far and wide.

Three of the museum collection’s available through Berg – Commercial Pattern Archive, Museo de la Moda, and Somerset House.

The images that can be accessed through Berg are from permanent museum collections and temporary exhibitions with detailed descriptions providing insight into the item’s creation, history, and significance. Additional relevant links are available from these pages to the museum’s website, designer or collection information, and other relevant images and content.

An example of the items visible from museum collections through Berg – An Alexander McQueen ‘highland’ style tartan dress

Lesson plans

A unique feature of Berg Fashion Library is the array of lesson plans that are available to support educational institutions, and even dedicated self-instructed individuals. There are 40 lesson plans available, each containing a full unit outline, individual lesson’s learning objectives, discussion questions, activities, homework tasks, and assessments. All lesson plans use the resources available through Berg’s encyclopedia, ebook, and article collection. Viewing and referring to these lesson plans can ensure users are able to get the best experience and gain the best understanding of what Berg fashion library has to offer.

An introduction to a lesson plan provided by Berg Fashion Library – Music and Fashion of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s by Kathryn Reiley

This is just some of what can be discovered on Berg Fashion Library. We hope you enjoy exploring!

We always welcome your recommendations for database trials  – let us know what you’d like to see.  Have a research query or questions on how to use our online collections? Ask a librarian.

Image credits: All images taken from Berg Fashion Library

More to explore

Check out our latest databases on trial, and see a full list of all new and trial databases, by visiting our A-Z Databases page.


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