Below are some dress related exhibitions. This info was gathered from the Costume Society of America.

Through September 14 at Les Recontres d’Arles museum [Arles, France], this
exhibit is guest curated by Christian Lacroix and features the work of Tim
Walker and Richard Avedon, as well as images from fashion advertisements,
catalogs, collections, and a history of fashion videos. Lacroix picked
curators to prepare several sub-exhibitions, including “From the Street to
the Blog,” which features Sloma and
17 other fashion photography bloggers.
Click here for more details.

Through September 27 at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising [Los
Angeles, CA], this exhibit displays designs from past and present Emmy
nominees, including Bob Mackie’s dress for Angelica Huston.
Click here for more details.

Through September 28 at the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art [Midland,
MI], numerous film stills and 36 Academy Awards nominations for costume
design will be on display. These authentic costumes come from British
costumer Cosprop.
Click here for more details.


New books from August

Jenny with Paolo Gucci

Gucci Wars: How I Survived Murder and Intrigue at the Heart of the World’s Biggest Fashion House
by Jenny Gucci
Publication Date: August 1, 2008

As the Sunday Herald describes it, the book “oozes sensationalism.” While the book has the potential to provide insights into the Gucci world, it apparently focuses on blood, violence and betrayal. One might have a glimmer of hope that the book would be of use to historians interested in an inside account, the Sunday Herald suggests that the author may have missed some things.

“Jenny Gucci brings to the tale an outsider’s view of the inner wranglings and feudings of the family. Not only did she come from outside the Gucci world, but, as a bookmaker’s daughter from Mill Hill in London and a former dental nurse, she was also from outside that Italian, patriarchal culture. Her incomprehension at the intrigue and machinations going on around her runs through the book.”

That said, one might still get a general sense of some of the inner workings – though its clearly not an academic endeavor, but might be useful if taken with a grain of salt.

Ribbon: The Art of Adornment

by Nicholas Kniel, Timothy Wright, and Parker Smith
Publication Date: August 21, 2008

Written by a designer of ribbon, Nicholas Kniel, collector Timothy Wright and photography by Parker Smith, this book appears to be of the coffee-table variety.

The Places and Spaces of Fashion, 1800-2007

by John Potvin
Publication Date: Aug 22, 2008

One can certainly judge a book by its cover in this instance – the all type on solid blue background leads me to believe that this is truly an academic text directly related to the study of visual culture. Offering fifteen chapters/essays on visual and material culture as they relate to fashion, I would say it has the potential to become required reading for students in the Visual Culture: Costume Studies program at New York University (though, given the $95 price tag, I suspect that parts of it will be incorporated into reading packets or checked out at the library rather than purchasing individual copies). Check out the table of contents here.

Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962

by Douglas Kirkland
Publication Date: August 25, 2008

Planned for release at the end of August, this book is apparently running late. I would guess that it was timed to come out at the same time as the new lifetime movie Monica mentioned a few posts ago. These personal photos were taken by Douglas Kirkland in 1962 of Chanel and her friends and have never before been published. Since this early work, Kirkland has worked for Look and Life magazines and is known for his photographs of iconic celebrities. For a quick peak at some of the interior, visit the publishers website here.

Until next time,




Academic jobs in MI and NY

Assistant Professor, Tenure-track
Apparel Merchandising and Design
Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant, MI)

Faculty position beginning either January 3, 2009 or August 18, 2009.
Click here for more details.

Assistant/Associate Professor of Fashion
The New School (New York, NY)

Studio Methods professor needed for 2009 school year.
Click here for more details.


2 Luxury Conferences

Self-Portrait with Wife, Isabella Brandt by Peter Paul Rubens, ca.1609

Self-Portrait with Wife, Isabella Brandt by Peter Paul Rubens, ca.1609

In Pursuit of Luxury – commercial and academic perspectives on luxury
19 June 2009
London, United Kingdom

The conference intends to expand the parameters of the debate around the concepts of luxury to provide a refreshing context to construe the familiar debates surrounding the subject. Keynote Speakers are Emanuel Ungaro, world renowned couturier and fashion designer and Professor Christopher Berry author of The Idea of Luxury.

The deadline for abstracts/proposals is 15 December 2008.

Enquiries: maz@inpursuitofluxury.com
Web address: http://www.inpursuitofluxury.com
Sponsored by: University of Hertfordshire

For those not able to travel to the UK, try this:

Too Much is Never Enough: Luxury and Decadence in the Ancient World

February 6-7, 2009

University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

A graduate student conference sponsored by the Department of Classical Studies, Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology, and Interdepartmental Program in Greek and Roman History. Wealth is one thing; displaying wealth is another. In the ancient world luxury encompassed a range of objects and modes of behavior that could be construed as desirable, decadent, corrupting, or captivating depending on the social context. How were displays of luxury created and exhibited in the ancient world, and how do we as scholars interpret them today?

  • How do concepts of luxury vary in relation to geographic, temporal, and social factors?
  • How can we separate the concepts of wealth and luxury? Can money buy class?
  • How did changes such as increased trade, economic pressures, colonization, and religious conversion affect a culture’s perception of luxury?
  • How does social status inform conceptions of luxury? How might these compete with one another?
  • How does luxury become a political issue? A moral issue? A gendered issue?
  • What traces of this discourse on luxury can we detect in the archaeological record?
  • How can material culture help to define and explain concepts of luxury?

The keynote address, “Portable Meanings”, will be given by Ann Kuttner, University of Pennsylvania, History of Art, whose interest in luxury arts as domestic and public display has led to a wide array of publications ranging from Posidippus’ Lithika to the public displays of Hellenistic kingdoms and the landscape of Roman villas.

We welcome papers from a variety of perspectives: literary, historical, archaeological, art historical and particularly those which adopt an interdisciplinary approach to the discussion of luxury in the ancient world.

Please send an abstract of up to 300 words, with your name, contact information, and institutional affiliation on a separate cover sheet, by October 15, 2008 to Karen Acton, klacton@umich.edu.

Contact: klacton@umich.edu
Announcement ID: 163868
Details: http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=163868


Call for art entries

Call for Nylon themed art to be shown in a gallery in New Mexico in Summer 2009.

Click here for more details.


Jackie Curtis-Fashion Innovator

The other day I watched a fabulous documentary about Jackie Curtis, who among many other notable qualities was a top-tier Warhol Superstar. One of the best parts about the film was the focus on Jackie’s dress, in regard to his complete disregard for boundaries. Most obvious of course was his blurring of gender lines and ideas about identity, but he also disavowed the rules about high fashion, street fashion, and anything in between. A true innovator.

Soon I’ll do a post on all of my fav fashion related documentaries as I’ve seen an endless amount of them-it’s how I spent a great deal of my free time.

Click here for a link to the film info.



The touch of Vivier

The September 1st issue of the New Yorker (the big fashion issue, with the Marc Jacobs interview) did a little profile on the return of the stiletto (and points out that yes, it never really left) in their regular “On and Off the Avenue” column. Specifically, it pointed to Roger Vivier’s ‘Rose ‘N Roll’ platform sandal with “a five-inch heel shaped like a thorn” as evidence of the new stiletto/platform crossbreed shoe that will gain greater popularity than either the straight stiletto or the straight platform.

For those interested in a little more eye candy, check out this video of a recent exclusive Vivier shopping night in Paris (including some shots of the re-introduced pilgrim pump from the 1960s).

by manumovie

For those not familiar, a brief history explains why this stiletto platform hybrid innovation is so apropos for Rodger Vivier.

Though he had previously garnered attention for his innovative work on the platform in the 1930s, Vivier – a French shoe designer – began to be recognized for his work during the 1950s. He had studied sculpture and also designed models for manufacturers across the globe, including “Pinet and Bally in France, Salamander and Mercedes in Germany, Rayne and Turner in England, and Delman in the United States.”[1] In 1937, Vivier opened his own design house in the Rue Royale, but continued to design for Delman.

That same year, Delman rejected a Vivier design for being “an orthopedic-style, cork soled platform shoe,” which he quickly offered to surrealist designer Elsa Schiaprelli. She then included the shoes in her 1938 collection.[2] During the war, Vivier went to the US, continuing to work for Delman and branching into hat design.[3]

In January of 1953, Vivier was invited by Christian Dior to begin designing shoes for the newly formed Christian Dior-Delman company.[4] Vivier, with his name included on the label, worked for Dior for the following ten years.[5] His innovative shoe designs astounded and beguiled women, and his elaborate decorations featured pearls, feathers, lace, tulle, rhinestones, intricate embroidery by Rebe, cascading crystal beads, and other decadent trimmings.[6]

Vivier drawer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute

Vivier drawer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute

Most famously, however, Viver became known for the style and shape of his heels. Though it is unclear who first introduced the Stiletto, Roger Vivier is usually credited with inventing it.[7] Calling it “talon aiguille” (or needle heel), it was reinforced with steel and finely tapered.[8]

Using his early training in sculpture and applying the principals of aerodynamics to footwear, he created other amazing heel shapes, including: the shock heel, the comma heel, Punchinello heel, the bobbin or spool heel, and even a heel made of a ball of rhinestones.[9] He also created innovative toe shapes, including the needle toe, the chisel toe, the square toe, and a turned up toe. [10]

The Comma heel (1957, LACMA)

The comma heel (1957, LACMA)

(1961, Metropolitan Museum of Art, CI)

(1961, Metropolitan Museum of Art, CI)

In the 1960s, Vivier continued to provide shoes for a variety of designers including, Pierre Balmain, Guy Laroche, Nina Ricci, Cristobal Balenciaga, Emmanuel Ungaro, Madame Gres, and Andre Courreges.[11] Most importantly, however, was his partnership with Yves Saint Laurent, which lasted from 1962 through 1970. For YSL, Viver created a silver-buckle pilgrim pump that would become one of histories most copied shoe (Retro examples of the pilgrim pump are visible in the first video). [12]

For more on the shoes in the collection of the metropolitan museum of arts, costume institute read this. Here too is a video of a recent exhibit (including some amazing shoes by Vivier) at Le musée international de la chaussure.

Until next time,

[1] Trasko, Mary. Heavenly Soles: Extraordinary 20th Century Shoes. New York: Abberville Press, 1989. 46

[2] Pattison, Angela and Nigel Cawthorne. A Century of Shoes: Icons of Style in the 20th century Australia: Universal International, 1997. 19.

[3] Pattison 21-23.

[4] Kyoto Costume Institute. Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century. NewYork: Taschen, 2000. 522; Pattison 21-23.

[5] Trasko 77-78.

[6] Trasko 82.

[7] Pratt, Lucy and Linda Woolley. Shoes. London : V&A Publications, 1999. 101

[8] Pratt 101; Trasko 69.

[9] Baudot, Francois. A Century of Fashion. London: Thames & Hudson, 1999. 152; Trasko 69, 78.

[10] Baudot 152; Pattison 44.

[11] Baudot 152; Trasko 101.

[12] Trasko 97.


Faculty positions

Associate/Full Professor
Textile Design/Fiber Arts

Department of Artisanry
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

The Department of Artisanry at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth shall be announcing a full-time faculty position search in the Textile Design/Fiber Arts program at the associate/full professor rank with consideration for tenure to begin September 1, 2009. For further information call 508.999.9295.

Open Rank Tenure-track
 Faculty Position
Medieval Material Culture
The Bard Graduate Center

Seeking applications for a new tenure-track position in the artistic and material culture of medieval Europe (rank open). The BGC is a graduate research institute committed to studying the cultural history of the material world, drawing on methodologies and approaches from art and design history, economic and cultural history, history of technology, philosophy, anthropology, and archaeology. Our ideal candidate is a scholar with a broad background in medieval archaeology and art history who is able to teach courses on medieval material culture and decorative arts.

 The recipient must have a Ph.D. in hand by June 2009. Applications are due on November 15, 2008. These should include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, sample publication (SASE), and three letters of recommendation, and should be sent to Chair, Medieval Search Committee, Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, 18 W. 86th Street, New York, NY 10024.


Job: Director, Textile Study Center in WI

Textile Collection’s Featured Textile:
Overlooking Kingston
1934, United States


Seeking a dynamic individual with strong development and management skills to lead in the development of a Textile Study Center. The Center, which will encompass the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, the Design Gallery and the Ruth Ketterer Harris book collection, will provide the organizational structure and facilities to build bridges between campus, public and private stakeholders, while facilitating teaching, outreach and scholarship related to the broad topic of textiles. Working collaboratively with faculty in the Design Studies Department, industry leaders, researchers, scholars, artists, designers and public and private donors, the Director will position the Center as a national and international hub for the study of textiles. The Director will be responsible for developing and executing a sustainable business and program plan within the higher education setting and will report to the Dean of Human Ecology.

Requirements: The successful candidate will have a Masters Degree (minimum required) in textiles, arts administration or a closely related field. Additionally, the candidate should have three years of management experience; demonstrated success in development, grant-writing, and administration; and will have the ability to work creatively and collaboratively with a broad constituency within and beyond the University. Applicants are requested to provide evidence of a commitment to textiles stemming from professional experience.

Starting Date: On or about February 1, 2009

To Apply: In order to ensure consideration, applicants should send a cover letter, curriculum vitae and contact information for three references by October 1, 2008 to:
Professor Virginia T. Boyd
Design Studies Department
1300 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
608- 262- 9983
Click here to email.


Conference: Narratives in Indian Textiles

Mantles of Myth – Narratives in Indian Textiles
December 13-15, 2008

The website for this event says (edited for length):

“This event attempts to understand, explore and discover Indian literature through studying textiles. They are focusing on myths and stories that have been transformed into oral traditions, bards, songs, rituals, creative techniques/ skills/ works, performing arts and textiles. Indian textile style has evolved with the development of civilization and its significance is hallowed by traditions. According to the Rig Veda and the Upanishads, the universe is a continuous fabric with a grid pattern upon which cycles of life are painted. In the Atharva Veda, day and night are said to spread light and darkness over the earth as weavers throw a shuttle on the loom. Textiles with narratives are seen across the country and their range varies from painted and printed textiles to woven and embroidered pieces. These textiles tell us multiple stories and represent myths sacred to indigenous communities across the country. Many have religious and ritual value in the cultures they come from whereas others are folk and tribal textiles that carry narratives of their origins and legends of their ancestors and gods. These textiles remind us of the riches of material culture in traditional communities and the wealth of accumulated knowledge which is generally ignored. They augment the existing rich verbal and oral literary traditions that record and map cultures. An understanding of the real India is possible only by fathoming its multiple histories in myriad tongues and forms.”

Click here for the details.