Most students would be content with wearing couture fashion, yet George Brown College student Alexis Northwood actually got to research the sacred archives of one of the world’s top fashion houses.

Northwood, 25, got the opportunity of a lifetime when she flew to Paris to work as a researcher on a new book about Christian Dior written by Royal Ontario Musuem senior curator Alexandra Palmer. The book, titled simply Dior, examines the seminal years of Dior’s rise as a creative force in the fashion industry and required extensive research to find archival photographs and documents that showcased Dior’s skill and style through his clothing.

Palmer, an author of multiple books on fashion, got to know Northwood when she was a student in one of her classes a few years ago. When she needed to send a researcher to dig through the Dior archives, Palmer knew Northwood was an ideal choice.

“Alexis is extremely personable and sensitive to time issues and constraints. She knew the project and she knows me. She was fantastic,” Palmer said.

Northwood, who currently studies international fashion development and management at George Brown, says the experience of researching the Dior book in Paris was incredibly educational — and fun.

“To be able to go to Paris, to browse through the Dior archives unrestricted, it was one of the best times of my life,” Northwood said.

With an enormous archive to dig through, Northwood had her work cut out for her to find and catalogue thousands of images for the book. She would send copies of the best photos she found to Palmer to select from, though after a few times, Northwood almost always knew which photos Palmer would pick even before she had seen them.

“I always knew which photo she would pick — it wasn’t necessarily the best quality image, it was the one that told the best story,” Northwood said.

While she’s certainly proud of the work she did, Northwood is just thankful for what she calls a stroke of luck that let her be a part of the whole process.

“Of course there’s a huge sense of pride that I was entrusted with these materials and that Alex trusted me with her book. But I realize that so much of it was timing that just sort of happened by chance. It was just a combination of timing with people placing a huge amount of trust into me,” Northwood said.

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