Undergraduate Research Assistant Profile: Rachel Doran ’19

Name: Rachel Doran

Class year: 2019

Major: Fiber Science and Apparel Design – Fashion Design Management

When did you begin working in the collection and what inspired you to join the CCTC? 

I started working in the collection spring semester of my freshman year. I actually found out about the collection when I was visiting Cornell as a prospective high school student. I attended a panel presentation with a bunch of professors from different majors in the College of Human Ecology and I heard Professor Green talking about the collection. From that moment I knew I wanted to be a part of the collection if I made it to Cornell. In high school I worked on costumes for the school plays and that really inspired my interest in historical clothing. Working in the collection has been a perfect way to further explore that interest.

The moment of discovery: a gorgeous 1914 court gown (CCTC #838), currently on display in Doran’s exhibition, “Go Figure!”

What is your favorite piece in the Cornell Costume & Textile Collection and why?

The 1914 gown currently on display in my exhibition, Go Figure: The Fashion Silhouette & the Female Form. The detailing is incredible and it was an amazing moment when I discovered it while working in the collection last summer.


Exhibition catalogue

If you were to donate one item from your personal wardrobe to the collection, what would it be and why?

There is a chiffon skirt I made when I was 17 that I actually included in the portfolio I submitted as part of my application to Cornell. I shot a roll of film on an analog camera, developed it, and used a light reactive fabric dye to print the negatives onto the fabric. Though I don’t design and haven’t taken studio classes at Cornell, I am still passionate about design and this was probably my favorite piece to make. Especially given all of the time we spend in FSAD classes learning about dyeing and printing techniques, I think this would be a valuable addition to the collection. 

What is missing from the CCTC? What garment, textile, or accessory do you think we should have, but don’t?

I would love to see more pieces from DEA/TXA/FSAD alumni working in the fashion industry. It would be amazing to be able to collect current fashions designed by alumni of our program.


Doran lectures at the opening of her exhibition, “Go Figure!”

What has been your most meaningful experience working in the CCTC?  Receiving the Charlotte A. Jirousek Undergraduate Research Fellowship in the Cornell Costume & Textile Collection and curating Go Figure! has been my most meaning experience, project, achievement, AND memory in the CCTC. Seeing the final product after nearly a year of hard work was really rewarding.  I am looking forward to creating an online exhibit website for Go Figure! so that the research will be accessible and retrievable to the public long beyond the duration of the physical exhibition.  The wonderful thing about the CCTC is that the gowns in my display will always be properly stored and preserved for future students, researchers, and exhibitions.

Rachel Doran ’19 with her exhibition, “Go Figure: The Fashion Silhouette and the Female Form,” located in the Human Ecology Display Cases.

What is your hope for the future of the CCTC?

I hope that the collection continues to grow and that FSAD students use the collection to explore their interests.  It is such a valuable resource!

Doran examines the interior of an 1885 wedding gown during a research trip to the Seward House Museum.

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