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Meet Annette Becker of Texas Fashion Collection, University of North Texas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annette Becker.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Annette. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I currently serve as the director of the Texas Fashion Collection, which is an archive of nearly 20,000 historic and designer garments and accessories. I come to the TFC as an art historian – rather than with a background in fashion design or merchandising – which means that I see the pieces at the TFC as an important part of our designed and social history rather than focusing on them as part of the retail world or with an eye towards constructing new garments.

Most of my professional experience before coming to the TFC was in arts education, particularly in nonprofits and museums, so I appreciate the opportunities this position gives me to do scholarly research that is accessible to students, people from other academic disciplines, and the general public.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s a long-standing joke that art history is one of the least employable academic paths. While I have found that many professional opportunities I’ve been granted have been part-time or temporary, the experience I gained in those less-than-stable positions helped me build up my credentials and broadened my perspective.

Earlier in my career, I supplemented my field-specific employment with a slew of odd jobs – working as an actress on a haunted train in southern Indiana, supervising kids at recess in Chicago public schools – all of which were interesting but did not extinguish my drive to become a fashion historian.

I frequently read job postings that required a graduate degree, decided to come to the University of North Texas because of the academic and financial support that they offered, and then found my professional path to be much smoother.

Texas Fashion Collection, University of North Texas – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Texas Fashion Collection is a unique repository of history and designer fashion. As part of UNT, we frame our holdings as important research resources for scholars from many fields – design, materials, retail, social history, art, gender, and so on.

Our staff time is divided between academic appointments with students and researchers, developing our collection holdings, and public outreach through lectures and exhibitions. Because our facilities include collection storage and research spaces but not a gallery, we frequently partner with cultural institutions in the DFW area to present exhibitions. This allows us a large and diverse audience, as our collection is seen by visitors to NorthPark Center, the Meadows at SMU, the UNT System building, and other locations.

The TFC is really best known for our impressive holdings in both haute couture and ready to wear clothing – which means we have examples of the most elevated forms of fashion design and garments that are more representative of what most people have historically worn. Thanks for several key donors, we have some of the largest collections in the world of the work of Oscar de la Renta, Hubert de Givenchy, and Cristobal Balenciaga.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I am most proud of making the TFC more accessible. Since starting as the head of the TFC in September 2016, we have increased outreach from a few hundred people a year to well over two thousand a year.

This increased number reflects more programming with students – including one-on-one research appointments where students can look closely at high fashion garments to study their design – and small public presentations that focus on garments from the TFC’s holdings. As an employee of the State of Texas, I take very seriously my responsibility to the public and want the TFC to be as accessible as is safe for our collection.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 405 S Welch, Suite 102
    Denton, TX 76201
  • Website: tfc.unt.edu
  • Phone: 940.565.2732
  • Email: annette.becker@unt.edu

Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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