The Triangle Factory Fire and the Living Issue of Labor

In the current climate of rampant, high-profile antisemitism (Galiano, Gibson, etc.), war on unions (Wisconsin), and the attack of women’s health rights, the centennial anniversary of the tragic Triangle Factory fire of 1911 seems eerily apropos. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was a tragic culmination of long standing inadequate fire and safety codes, and American willful ignorance of the exploitation of the immigrant / Jewish …

Unsettling Color

The past couple of fashion seasons, I’ve noticed the trend of pairing neutrals or murky tertiaries with a slice (or in some daring examples, a chunk) of neon, usually orange, magenta, or electric blue. Though it’s absolutely surprising– some might even say shocking– this is not actually a new, 21st century invention. Many think of the Victorian era as swathed in somber black (thanks to …

Political Irony in Surrealist Fashion

I’m gearing up to present at CUNY’s upcoming interdisciplinary conference “Jesters and Gestures: Irony at a Crossroads” (February 24 – 25), and as I was brainstorming what I might be able to bring to the table, Surrealist fashion just screamed at me. Here’s a teaser of what I’ll be speaking on: Irony is typically associated with the literary and oral; I intend to explore visual …

Subversion in Trompe L’oeil, Graffiti, and Fashion

Coming from an Art History background with all its unfortunate snooty and consumerist associations (fashion shares these themes, I’m afraid), I’ve recently become obsessed with its subculture offshoot, the publicly accessible graffiti (or “street art”) movement. Long fascinated by graffiti, I’ve recently gone on a binge, going out of my way to walk around Pilsen while visiting my friend in Chicago (it’s known for its …

The Cult of Marilyn Monroe Celebrity

I have had Marilyn Monroe on the brain recently due to two rather under-publicized tidbits: Michelle Williams (1980 – ) will be playing Marilyn in an upcoming movie My Week With Marilyn, about the tense filming of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) with Laurence Olivier; and WWD recently informed me that Authentic Brands Group, LLC has bought the “intellectual property” of Marilyn Monroe — …

Knitting for Charities

As a crafty person, I generally make the gifts I give during the holiday season. They are inevitably small projects — knit gloves, a hat, etc. — but they’re made to the specific tastes of the recipients, and I think the effort exerted is appreciated in a way that’s simply impossible to mimic with store bought purchases. Now that the stress of the big gift-giving …

American Art, American Fashion. What is it, anyway?

As a native Cantabrigian, I read with interest and delight the NYTimes review of the newly opened, newly expanded American Wing of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, a museum I practically grew up in (my father still lectures there). I was especially intrigued by the following statement: “One can imagine arguments growing sharp in the present political climate, when opinions about what America was, is …

A Different Take on Street Fashion Photography

A few months ago I had the delight of popping into the Met’s modestly-sized exhibition “Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players: Leon Levinstein’s New York Photographs, 1950–1980.” From the Met’s website description: “Leon Levinstein (1910–1988), an unheralded master of street photography, is best known for his candid and unsentimental black-and-white figure studies made in New York City neighborhoods from Times Square and the Lower East Side …

Flattening Fashion

One of my favorite blogs ColourLovers brought to my attention a new cookbook. I have no idea the quality of the recipes in Homemade is Best, but what interested me was that each recipe has a double-page spread of photos of the ingredients, piles neatly arranged in graphic formation. It might make more sense when you learn that Ikea– brand of (often impossible) assemble-it-yourself furniture …

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