This is the article, titled “Translating Fashion”, which I wrote for the Spring 2015 newsletter of the British Costume Society (click the image for a more readable version):
One of my main areas of specialisation is fashion. Last year I joined the British Costume Society, because they offer a lot of useful information on both historical and contemporary fashion and they regularly organise events on the subject of dress, fashion and textiles. They also publish a newsletter for their members. Last year I contacted the editor of the newsletter to ask whether they would be interested in an article about translating for the fashion industry and they said they would be.
I decided to focus on the translations from English into Dutch which I did for the exhibition “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier”, which was held in Rotterdam in 2013, since the previous Costume Society newsletter contained a review of this exhibition, which was on display in London in the summer of 2014.
The aim of my article was to show how a translator works and what he or she needs, so I started by explaining that I need to know what kind of style the client is looking for and that it is helpful to have previously written texts, glossaries and/or style guides as a guideline. I then went on to explain how important it is to have proper visuals, especially if you have to translate detailed descriptions of the designs, as was the case for this exhibition. I gave a couple of examples of texts that were really unclear without visuals and how I was able to solve this (I sent them photographs I had taken myself at the exhibition to illustrate this and they were printed along with the article). I ended by listing some other problems I encountered, such as typos in the text and phrases that were in French instead of in English (my working language; I do not translate from French) and how I managed to work around those issues.
Before I sent the article to the editor I had it proofread by Elise Reynolds, as English is not my native language.
I really enjoyed writing the article and I hope it gives people who have never worked with a translator before some idea of how translators tend to work.