On Teaching Fashion: Go Time!

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My syllabus is printed; my lectures (for the first 5 weeks) are complete. I have a detailed timeline and a daily agenda that breaks my three-hour lecture into manageable sections. Seemingly organized and straightforward, my teaching has a way of always seeping into the time I set aside for my writing and research every semester. There it goes, again! All the great work I thought I would do with all the “free time” I imagined I had. I am trying something new this semester. I am apart of a peer “faculty success” support group offered by my University based on the good work Kerry Ann Rockquemore has done with her Faculty Success Program, based on her amazing book The Black Academic’s Guide to Winning Tenure-Without Losing Your Soul, this book is professional development tool useful for any junior faculty.

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The book covers her program in detail, you can actually go through an online live program with other faculty. I want to share resources and tips that are on her website that are free! In looking forward to my semester (with a full class load, several articles and design projects, a toddler, a house re-model,….the list could continue….) I am determined to make my time mine! I am going to offer a few tips that all of us with scholarship aspirations (tenure-track, non-tenured, adjunct, freelance scholar) can benefit from, with pre-planning and a little soul searching.

  1. Sign up for The Monday Motivator.

According to the website: The Monday Motivator is a weekly e-mail message that provides an electronic dose of positive energy, good vibrations, and a weekly productivity tip. The purpose of the weekly message is to reinforce the core ideas presented in tele-workshops and provide support for individuals who are making the transition from graduate student to professor.

Beyond the Monday Motivator the website is a wealth of resources, many free. I suggest also looking into seeing if your school or University has programming with or similar to the faculty success program.

  1. Rockquemore, in her book, discusses effective teaching methods and reflects on how many of us over prepare, spending far to long on class preparations. She suggests spending a set time of two hours each week on teaching prep. Also, she recommends embedding a method of daily writing (at least 30 minutes a day) into your weekly routine. This is where the peer mentoring comes in as accountability. The key is to build scholarship time into your calendar as you would a class and do not give it up for any reason. Finally, she offers a list on how to say NO, as to not fill up your precious time with all manner of obligations.

“That sounds like a great opportunity, but I just can not take on any additional commitments at this time”

Or

“I am not the best person for this, why don’t you ask _______________”

Or my personal favorite:

“No”

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Creating space for scholarship is essentially an organizational task. The book discusses ways to organize visually by color coating folders labeled with “teaching” “service” and “research” for fast recall. There are many truly helpful organizational gems regarding how to create a productive workspace that I hope (after I implement said gems) will assist me in managing my time and space better.

Beyond being uber organized about your classes, how might you embed time to accommodate your precious scholarship this semester? What are your goals and how can you achieve them simultaneous to negotiating the deluge that is teaching, advising, service and life. What tips can you offer for other Worn Through readers? Good luck and Happy Teaching! Happy Scholarship as well!

All images sourced online.

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Domestic Affairs: Revisiting Le Salon Dore

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I must confess that of the museums in San Francisco, the Legion of Honor is my favourite. As I’ve been going to “the City” my entire life for art exhibitions, that’s saying something. This is partly sentimental — I consider the Legion to be one of the early influences on my becoming a material culturist and dress historian, long before I knew those careers existed — and partially a sheer love for the unique nature of the museum, itself. Architecturally modelled on the Hôtel de Salm in Paris, the Legion lends itself to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco‘s (FAMSF) eighteenth-century art and material culture collections. Among these are the rooms such as the recently restored Salon Dore.

I first learned of the renovation of the Salon Dore by being startled at its and the other eighteenth-century rooms’ being closed off from the public while on a visit to see FAMSF’s Royal Treasures from the Louvre in 2013. The Salon Dore seemed like the perfect way to end the visit. Except that the Salon was being restored in a huge, eighteen-month long project. As I said, the Salon, along with other aspects of the Legion influenced me greatly in my career, so I eagerly anticipated the reopening this year.

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According to the FAMSF site discussing the details of the renovation and encouraging visiting, Le Salon Dore is one of the finest surviving examples of French Neoclassical interior architecture in the United States. I can only agree. What’s more, the restoration has given the salon back the intimacy it had previously lost, while still retaining that subdued elegance that first gave the world the concept of “good taste”.

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This is not a criticism of the Salon as I first knew it. In 1995, when it was installed at the Legion, the Fine Arts Museums took the bold step of using it as much to display other object of material culture — glassware, etc. — in the spaces between the gilded mouldings we now see as blank wall. This particular display taught me as a young pre-teen the context of objects I might otherwise have misunderstood. However, there are shifts in attitude about display as much in the museum world as there are everywhere else. The more we learn, the more technology advances, all influence how we communicate with our audiences; so while the Salon was almost avant garde in its educational and display in 1995, those same nuances had become as tarnished as some of the eighteenth-century mirrors by 2013.

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The restoration was extensive and amazingly well-done. The lighting has been dimmed in the room to preserve that restoration work for as long as possible, and the room positively gleams. It is this lower lighting — mimicking candlelight — that restores the intimacy and eighteenth-century ambiance to the room. The gilding and other objects are meticulously preserved and restored, but of course what caught my attention was the work on the textiles which is almost mind-boggling. I am unsure whether it is the conservationists’ work, or my own increased education as to the beauty of Lyon silk furnishings, or a combination thereof, that made the deep impression on me that it did. I couldn’t remember the colour of the furnishings in the Salon Dore during the restoration despite having visited it every time I was at the Legion since its arrival, now I don’t know how I missed the beautiful sky-blue silks with cream and gold patterning.

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The conservation and restoration is not merely to the artwork, but in their presentation. The set up genuinely suggests that at any moment you might witness an eighteenth-century gathering, though that might be influenced by my having met a costuming group in full sacque and robe à la française gowns in the galleries recently. The fault I often found with the Salon and the other rooms is that there was not enough information about them posted within the museum. There would be the tombstone informing me that this was the Salon Dore from the Hôtel de la Trémoille, but nothing much more. This is no doubt due to pre-teen laziness, the internet not being quite what it is now in 1995, and the museum not wanting to damage the Salon itself with placards when it didn’t have the space. The Salon is a room — giving the museum limited space to work with when labelling items displayed since eighteenth-century rooms are not large and they are, as can be seen, rather ornate.

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This is where the technological advances come in handy. Thanks to mounted tablets, there is interactive information available to the public where before the museum was limited to what they could transcribe on limited podium tombstones a decade previously. Entire paragraphs about the room, its creation, its restoration, everything are available at your fingertips. FAMSF has never been shy of technology, embracing it in its presentation of the Bulgari exhibition last year (as I discussed in my review), but I’ve never seen what direction they were intending to go in with with permanent displays. This is all complimented by an extensive, well-researched, well-written catalogue on the Salon and the Salon alone. So extensive I’ve not yet been able to give it the complete attention it deserves (lots and lots of fine print — this is what I will be reading on my next vacation, I assure you). Having done my master’s internship working with a private collection of eighteenth-century architectural drawings, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francsico have done a meticulous job of presenting the history and beauty of the Salon.

One debate regarding museum displays that seemed to trouble my master’s instructors was how do you keep a permanent collection on display interesting to the public? I don’t think there is a single answer to that question since each institution and thus each public is different, but with the Salon Dore and the rotation of various sixteenth- through twentieth-century paintings and material culture objects, the Legion of Honor has absolutely figured out its balance. I was able to visit the very portraits by Reynolds and Vigée Le Brun that had captivated me as a child, while seeing new pieces to fall in love with, and being dazzeled by the newly restored Salon Dore.

And they used the images of the restored textile designs as the end papers in the catalogue, in addition to extensive essays on those same textiles. What more could a girl in love with the late eighteenth-century ask for?

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The Salon Dore is open to the public every day that the Legion of Honor is open. The catalogue on the Salon’s history and restoration is available in museum shops, and online.

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and insights in the comments. And if you have any dress or textile history or material culture events happening in your institution or know of any that you would like to be discussed here on Worn Through feel free to email me!

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Seeking 2 New Interns

Worn Through is looking for 1 – 2 new interns to start as early as September or October and preferably work with us for the entire 2014-15 school year.

We are particularly looking for people who are comfortable with Twitter, academic journal articles, and those who want to help with finding and posting CFPs, interesting videos, doing research with contributors, and other tidbits our readers would enjoy.

We need someone who checks email daily and can be fairly quick in response time, although this is the type of position where you can do many of your tasks in chunks (such as pre-posting weeks’ worth of CFPs). Therefore we can work with your workplace or school schedule as long as you are a good email communicator. The ideal candidates are involved in the research/academic/history & culture side of apparel studies and want to continue in those fields. Although someone in marketing/trend research or similar may be great too.

Worn Through is a volunteer network of individuals who work as thriving museums, schools and doing independent research projects of all sorts, so this is a strong networking and professional experience opportunity for a student or new graduate. Many of our interns move onto nice jobs and/or become contributors here at Worn Through. Internships are unpaid, however we have worked it out with schools in the past to do any paperwork needed to get credit if that is an option for you. Also note we have 30-40,000 hits per month and almost 1000 Facebook fans so your efforts will be visible to the public and your hard work recognized. Also upon a strong job we are happy to write letters of recommendation.

Please email Dr. Monica Sklar with your CV and brief cover letter by September 15. Goal start date is October 1 or 15 latest. 

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CFP: The Sixties – The Culture, the Movements, and the Summer of Love

Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Annual National Conference: The Sixties: The Culture, the Movements, and the Summer of Love

Wednesday, April 1 through Saturday, April 4, 2015

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Sixties Area of the Popular Culture Association welcomes submissions on any aspect of popular culture from this era. Topics of interest might include, but are not limited to:

  • Film, television, and radio of the era
  • Analysis of influential books/authors and/or arts/artists  e.g. Ginsberg; Warhol
  • Religion and spirituality
  • Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll
  • Music and fashion as cultural expression and consumer culture
  • Communal living
  • 1969, or other significant dates, places, or events, e.g. Days of Rage, etc.
  • Countercultural movements—Hippies, SDS, Black Panther Party, the White Panther Party, etc.
  • Politics and protests of the era e.g. Civil Rights, Vietnam
  • Race and gender issues e.g. the 1968 Olympic Project for Human Rights, NOW
  • Media reaction and representation

Deadline for submission of a 100-250-word abstract is November 1, 2014.

Please email Deborah Carmichael at Michigan State University with abstracts, inquiries, or proposals.

Please see the announcement for full details.

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You Should Be Watching: The Chinese Market for Luxury

The exponentially-growing Chinese market for Western luxury goods has changed the way that these items are sold, and fashion is no exception. This week’s YSBW presents news stories from the past year that discuss the shifts that many luxury fashion companies have made to attract Chinese customers as well as the challenges they have faced in their endeavors. This is a rich, ever-evolving topic, and a great place for more information is regular Business of Fashion column “The China Edit.”

I was unable to get this video to properly embed, but here is a great segment from CNN Money on the efforts of French and English luxury brands to woo Chinese customers.

Bonus article: One of the challenges French luxury companies are facing is the targeting of Chinese luxury tourists in Paris. It has gotten so bad that the Paris law enforcement called in Chinese police officers to help curb the thefts during the peak summer tourist season! More here and here.

 

 

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Reader Survey 2014

chk

We would like to encourage our readers to participate in a brief survey about Worn Through. Quite a few years ago we did a similar survey and it helped shape the direction we took the blog.

Here is the link to do the survey

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s brief and would only take a couple of minutes. To keep things quick for you we did not include a lot of open commenting, however, we invite you to add any further comments to this post itself, and after the survey is over we’ll pick one person who commented at random and I will send you a copy of my book Punk Style (it does not have to be a glowing review of the blog to get the book!).

I’ll post this a few times and we’ll wrap it up the first week of September.

Again here is the survey link.

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Book Review: Writing Fashion in Early Modern Italy by Eugenia Paulicelli

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The sartorial splendor described in Eugenia Paulicelli’s Writing Fashion in Early Modern Italy seems cut from a Tim Burtonesque wonderland—perfumed horses, courtesans draped in yellow veils, “gigantesses” perched precariously on mammoth chopines and sleek, black-clad courtiers crossing a Venetian square with graceful nonchalance. It’s a cinematic world, the inhabitants ever so conscious of their visual impact and driven by, as the author explains, “the awareness of making and molding one’s own identity…according to an external, public gaze.”(62)

But, as Paulicelli makes clear in this excellent, thoroughly researched text, the self-consciousness of these early modern Italians was merely a reflection of much greater underlying themes. The evidence (and the author) clearly establishes that beneath the practiced “naturalness” of sprezzatura, serious attention was being paid to serious issues. There was the question of national identity during a politically unstable time. Who was an Italian or, more specifically for this study, what did an Italian look and act like? “And, then, a new quandary: what to make of this emerging idea: la mode? Was fashion an expression of freedom or one of immorality and deception? What, by god,could be made of this new generation of men touched by “the contagious infection” of fashion? (205) Finally, there was the “problem” of women: feted and adorned, perhaps, but also trapped in the tyranny of a society that denied them access to intellectual and civic life. Some were beginning to take a stand.

Paulicelli charts early modern sensibilities through close examinations of seminal texts, including Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, costume books by Cesare Vecellio and Giacomo Franco, the work of the neo-feminist nun Sister Arcangela Tarabotti and of the moralist Agostino Lampugnani. It’s a lively selection of sources, which she puts to rigorous use through illuminating quotations as well as generous inclusion of other contemporary and early modern sources. We get, for example, not only Castiglione’s words on sprettazura, but snippets of a somewhat truculent letter he penned to his mother. Send me that velvet cape, he chides, otherwise, “If I go [to Rome] I will have to wear my old cloak with fur, which is worn out. Do you think this is a decorous dress to be worn in the company of so many gentlemen?”(67)

While she touches on a great many objects important to the early modern wardrobe—for example, gloves, armor, wigs, the guardinfante (farthingale), textiles, the codpiece—Paulicelli does this through the lens of cultural attitudes and technological advances. The guardinfante, a relatively recent import from Spain, gets a particularly caustic attack from Lampugnani, who recounts tales of prisoners escaping by hiding under a woman’s skirt, miscarriages and “malformed children” caused by its “iron devices”—and, if that isn’t bad enough, social improprieties: “women could easily rest their elbows and hands on them and use them as a little table on with to put their snacks.” (216-17) It’s ironic, then, that Lampugnani, with his blatant mistrust of fashion, was the first to use the word moda in his text La Carrozza da nolo, ovvero del vestire e usanze alla moda.

Of the most inspiring chapters was that which described Sister Arcangela Tarabotti. Although she was forced to take the veil by her father, in truth, nobody could shut her down. “I cut my hair,” she wrote, “but I did not uproot my feelings. I reformed my life, but my thoughts, like my hair, the more they are cut the more they grow, continually multiplying.” (186) From her guarded Catholic confines, Tarabotti fearlessly attacked the male patriarchy and society’s double standards. She spoke out for women’s intelligence and against the male tyranny that restricted the lives of women. And her voice was clear and unabashedly angry. “What else is it but ingratitude when that country under the special protection of the Virgin Mary, that country which once triumphed against the uprising of Baiamonte Tiepolo by means of a woman, finds itself engaged in degrading, deceiving, and denying liberty to its own young girls and women more than any other kingdom in the world?” (179) From her austere religious surroundings, she composed “the first in-depth, sustained response to the long tradition of polemics on female luxury.” I was grateful for the introduction to this early modern firebrand.

I write too much—for, in truth, it’s impossible to address the myriad of issues, attitudes and details that Paulicelli has expertly compiled in this text. Just put this book in your hands. In fact, I’m going to read it again, without you, my audience for this assignment, in my head…just me and the luxury of yellow-veiled courtesans, giagantesses on chopines, sleek couturiers, perfumed horses and early angry feminists.

 

Writing Fashion in Early Modern Italy by Eugenia Paulicelli is available through Ashgate Press.

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Made in Mexico: The Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion at the FTM

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For my second summer exhibition review, I went to see Made in Mexico: The Rebozo in Art, Culture & Fashion at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Publicised as a first, this exhibition attempts to consider the rebozo, a shawl worn by Mexican women since the 17th century, through displays that consider historical context, cultural identification with well-known Mexican artists such as Frida Kahlo, social functions and the influence on contemporary art and fashion in Mexico today.

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Examples of rebozos made in the 1950s and arranged to evoke the style of Frida Kahlo who wore them often.

Given that the Fashion and Textile Museum is housed in a building designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta and that many of the earlier designs by the museum’s founder, Zandra Rhodes, are inspired by Mexican culture, it is not a surprise to find the exhibition here.

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Here, you can see contemporary rebozo designs by British designers Zandra Rhodes on the right with a white feather screenprint on a cotton rayon mix and on the left, a wool patterned design by Wallace & Sewell

There is certainly a celebratory feel throughout the space as artists, designers and anthropologists display their enthusiasm for the rebozo by providing photographs, films and contemporary interpretations alongside material examples that cover every possible fabric and motif.

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The main room which featured displays of rebozos juxtaposed with art installations and photographs from the Mexican anthropologist Ruth Lechuga (1920 – 2004)

The main room is given over to a dynamic display of these beautiful coverings, demonstrating the diversity of Mexican female society. There is a rebozo here for everyone, from plain to fancy, soft to hard, flat to sculptural, raw to recycled.

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Appliqued cotton rebozo made by Mamaz Collective, a group of women from Tanivet, Oaxaca in 2014. It shows how women wear and use the rebozo in their daily lives.

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A detail from a rebozo owned by Lila Downs, a popular singer-songwriter in Mexico

The rebozo can be made with pompoms, silk, feathers or glass beads. It can be woven from silk, wool, cotton or even constructed out of teabags. A rebozo can be both abstract and figurative, sharing stripy details or offering up appliquéd people. A rebozo can identify you with both a particular region of Mexico and the country as a whole.

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Photographs by Tom Feher of Dominga weaving a rebozo, 2010

There are fantastic images by Tom Feher of women weaving rebozos, such as Dominga, which show how these complex garments are made using a relatively simple back strap loom. Although the practice of wearing these shawls originates from the Spanish conquest and the emphasis on women covering their heads in church, their production is clearly the result of methods developed by earlier indigenous people of Mexico. As a result, the rebozo is an object of interest for collectors, artists and anthropologists as they continually seek to identify its cultural significance.

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Detail of a traditional back strap loom

However, there is another reason for having this exhibition other than having a celebration.  Production of rebozos has gone from involving a third of the Mexican population to less than forty people scattered across the country. And of those left, there are only two who use the traditional back loom while the rest use a foot loom, introduced through colonialisation (1).

The craft of the rebozo is clearly in decline and current generations seem less interested in learning the skills and knowledge required to make these emblematic objects. The display of contemporary art and fashion inspired by the rebozo suggests that their importance is not lost and Mexican designers today are keen to continue indigenous skills and materials.

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An jaspe rebozo jacket designed by Beatriz Russek, 1990

I particularly enjoyed the garments designed by Carmen Rion and Beatriz Russek, known for their collaborations with Mexican indigenous weaving communities and who have created some striking modern designs. While the exhibition highlights the significance of artists re-interpreting the rebozo, the highlight for me was a film of weavers talking about the process of making a rebozo. They described a sense of ‘urgency’ felt when weaving as they became closer and closer to finishing the rebozo and became more and more curious about whose shoulders it might finally embrace. I was transfixed by this narrative as I imagined what it would be like to weave these objects, spending up to sixty days on one rebozo, thinking about who might this shawl belong to one day. Capturing what it feels like to produce something seems critical when inspiring current generations to value and utilise historical skills and knowledge in the future.

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Recent designs by Carmen Rion using the rebozo form to create blouses and skirts

(1) Virginia David and Hilary Steele, The Rebozo: A Mexican Tradition, Fibrearts, vol35 no1 60-1 Summer 2008, p60-61

 

 

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CFP: AMA/ACRA SECOND TRIENNIAL CONFERENCE

AMA/ACRA Second Triennial Conference

March 4 – 7, 2015

Miami, Florida

The American Marketing Association (AMA) and American Collegiate Retailing Association (ACRA) invite submissions for their second triennial conference to be held in Coral Gables, Florida. Extended abstracts, competitive papers, workshop proposals, and doctoral paper submissions are all invited. Possible topics include:

  • Branding
  • Consumer psychology
  • Global retailing
  • Sustainability
  • Social Media

Submission deadline: September 30, 2014.

Please see conference website for full details.

Comments

Reader Survey 2014

chk

We would like to encourage our readers to participate in a brief survey about Worn Through. Quite a few years ago we did a similar survey and it helped shape the direction we took the blog.

Here is the link to do the survey

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s brief and would only take a couple of minutes. To keep things quick for you we did not include a lot of open commenting, however, we invite you to add any further comments to this post itself, and after the survey is over we’ll pick one person who commented at random and I will send you a copy of my book Punk Style (it does not have to be a glowing review of the blog to get the book!).

I’ll post this a few times and we’ll wrap it up the first week of September.

Again here is the survey link.

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