History of Dress Category Archives

Museum Life: collecting contemporary fashion

I often get asked what’s the oldest and newest garment in the collection I work with. The oldest is a bit difficult to answer as it depends how you define garment, but the most recent is 2012. Although museums are sometimes thought of as places of old stuff, many acquire contemporary items throughout collection areas. For example the Victoria and Albert Museum, London acquired a …

London Fashion Umbrella: Cecil Beaton Theatre of War

Until yesterday, I had never set foot inside London’s Imperial War Museum.  Not surprising, it took an exhibition devoted to the work of a figure well-known in the fashion realm to inspire me to cross the threshold into one of the world’s most comprehensive and diverse collections dedicated to chronicling the histories and impact of war (Since WW1) especially in Britain and the Commonwealth.   …

Manipulations of Images & The Body

I recently came upon a light news item that caught my eye: following a partnership between Disney and Barneys department store, beloved Disney cartoon characters have been augmented to resemble fashion sketches: Though many of us in the fashion world are used to seeing these hyper-elongated bodies, impossibly willowy limbs, bodies whose legs consume 3/4 of the entire body, in various stances of elegant / …

London Fashion Umbrella: Props or artifacts?

When I am not engaged with fashion curatorial projects, I often work as a prop stylist and set designer. Among the many frivolous perks of this type of work (openings, parties, celebrity sightings, etc.) the prop sourcer and stylist gets to frequent less known but equally as fascinating places as private luxury and fashion industry soirees. To those working in film, event or theatrical fields …

On the Origins of American Indian Sartorial Stereotypes

In Hampton Sides’ foreword to the 2007 reprint of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, he recounts Dee Brown’s experience at a local silent movie theater one evening in the 1920s when the future author was still just a child making use of one of the few entertainments available in rural Arkansas. In the middle of a shoot-out between pioneers and Native Americans in a …

Ivy Style at The Museum at FIT – Now on view through January 5th

As September rolled around this year, I found myself missing the start of a new academic semester and all the accompanying activities.  The current exhibition up at the Fashion Institute of Technology provided an enjoyable antidote to life beyond graduate school with a lively installation that focuses on a small segment of fashion history. Ivy Style chronicles the emergence of the preppy look in American …

London Fashion Umbrella: Room 40 at the V&A

  After a major refurbishment an re-installation, the V&A’s Fashion Gallery reopened earlier this year. Prior to the recent renovation, Room 40, originally purpose built to display fashion, had been virtually unchanged since 2004. The new permanent exhibition of the museum’s fashion and textile collections presents a chronological display that surveys European fashion from the 18th through 21st centuries, highlighted significant developments and trends in …

London Fashion Umbrella: A Wartime Fashion Limerick

Fashion humour and satire is a primary area of my research interests, and I am always on the lookout for media that lampoons dress in all forms and from all periods. I have come across poems and songs that criticize the whims of fashion and its followers, but until recently had never read a satirical fashion limerick. Last Christmas, my mother picked up an antiquarian …

Objektet och Museet: The Identity Lab at Designmuseum Danmark

With the freedom we will surely miss when we are no longer a PhD candidate and an “independent researcher”, my boyfriend and I took the overnight bus from Uppsala to Copenhagen one August Sunday for a 47-hour whirlwind rendezvous with a friend of mine from high school. Being the first time for all of us, one immediately agreed-upon stop was Designmuseum Danmark, with its endless …

Rat Race: Using Historic Garments for Fashion Illustration

Students in my Fashion Illustration course at Iowa State University are getting a real treat this week as they learn concepts of technical drawing.  With the support of the Textiles and Clothing Museum here at ISU, I am able to use historic garments from the 1940’s as a tool when teaching technical flat drawing.  Suzanne LeSar, Research Associate for the museum, worked with me to …

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Available now: Punk Style by Worn Through founder, Monica Sklar, PhD. Find it at : Amazon.com, Powell's Books, or a bookseller near you.