I am in the midst of midterm design inspiration research for my class in Fashion Drawing. One main objective of the project is to design a series of looks for an emerging or less represented target market. I explain in my introduction of the target market that the woman in her 20′s who lives on the Upper East Side has enough clothing to wear to the opening at the Met.
Last semester my students generated some great projects with timely target market subjects such as: the digital commuter, trans-gendered summer fashions, wall-street occupier, and contemporary working mom in Dubai. One trick is to find resources for inspiration.
While it is wonderful to access paid resources the University library holds, I treasure the free digital resources because of the diversity of subject and cultures represented. For example, I am in love with the retronaut site that offers photographs of historical fashion subcultures such as exotic dancers of the 1890′s pictured here. I have one student researching the resurgence of burlesque and I was happy to share this with her.
This week I invite our readers to share your favorites related to anything fashion and teaching related, Happy Teaching!
Marchesa Luisa Casati was renowned for her unique and haunting image, one that she carefully cultivated in order to become a “living work of art.” While Casati served as muse to artists of many mediums during her lifetime, her visage and many eccentricities continue to be the subject of art, film, and fashion into the twenty-first century.
For more information from Worn Through about the Marchesa’s unique style, click here and here.
Augustus Edwin John, 1919 Lagerfeld for Chanel Resort 2010
Man Ray, 1922 Tilda Swinton for Acne Paper, F/W 2009
The Marchesa in a bold graphic robe Styling by Lagerfeld, The New Yorker 2003
Giovanni Boldini, 1908 Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2007
Adolph De Meyer, 1912 Galliano for Dior Couture Spring/Summer 1998
Casati at a Beaumont Ball, 1920s Georgina Chapman for Harper’s Bazaar, March 2009
Augustus Edwin John, c. 1942 John Galliano RTW Fall 2007
We are once again offering our Annual Research Award to our readers. This year, we have decided to distribute two awards, one to a student (any level) and one to a non-student.
Two awards for $250 each.
Award Details: The purpose of these awards is to provide funding to assist independent scholars, students, museum personnel or university instructors for professional projects in the field of fashion, dress, and textile studies. Holding an academic degree in the topic is not required for the awardee. This is not meant for institutions. Teams, groups, and co-researchers are accepted.
Application Deadline: Feb 1, 2014, awards decided by Mar 1 and distributed by Mar 15, 2014.
NOTE: Anyone who has been a contributor or intern with Worn Through within the past two years is ineligible (two years since Feb 1, 2012, going from the due date).
Purpose: The award could be used to assist with image licensing or other publication fees; travel such as that for research, interviews, or to see a collection; conference attendance fees if presenting; purchasing technology such as software or a recording device; or in any other way necessary toward completion or dissemination of the applicant’s project. This is a blog geared toward the study of dress from an academic perspective, thus, projects submitted for award consideration should be academic in approach and rigor, and should include history, theory, academic literature, and meet all appropriate standards of consent and protections from human subjects. Should the project require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for the applicant’s research, obtaining that approval shall be the sole responsibility of the applicant and proof should be included with the application if use of the award pertains to an IRB matter.
Details: The portion of the project that utilizes award funds must be completed BY DECEMBER 31, 2014. By the end of this time period the awardee is responsible for submitting a blog post for publication on Worn Through about the project and how the award was used as well as all related receipts.
Application: Send a document (Word, Pages, or PDF) of approximately 500 words with a proposed research plan and explain how the award would be of value to the research. If this is for a small portion of a larger project, please include details on the entire project, such as methodology and long-term goals. If this is for travel funds, explain what would be gained from said research trip or conference attendance.
Also, separate from the word count, include a budget worksheet for the entire project that would show how the award would contribute to the project’s success. Indicate which line items in the worksheet will be impacted by this award. Be specific about how this money would be used and how the applicant would benefit from these funds. Worn Through is looking to assist worthwhile projects get completed and disseminated, and aspires to assist those in financial need.
Additionally, include an approximately 100-200 word bio of each applicant included in the project and/or CV(s).
Contact: Email to Worn Through Founder & Editor Monica Sklar.
Selection Process: The Worn Through team will collaboratively select the recipients after reviewing all completed submissions. Only submissions complete by the deadline will be reviewed. We reserve the right to split the award in half if there are two equally deserving applications.
Best of Luck an all of your Research Projects and Thank You for Your Participation!
The Baronness is not a futurist. She is the future.
(Following is a repost of an article that first appeared in December, 2008)
The Anarchist: The Dada artist, Baronness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
Her Ideals: Ironically, for a woman who once said, “I did not acknowledge children,” The New York Times calls this poet, artist, model and denizen of the art worlds of Paris, Berlin, and New York “The Mama of Dada.” Author Irene Gammel calls her “a figure who systematically refused to cultivate the typically female qualities like patience and gentleness.” What she did cultivate, instead, was a “life as art.”
Although involved in aesthetic circles in fin-de-siècle Europe, it was not until moving to New York City in 1913 that she fully actualized her life as an Anarchist of Style. Fiercely against bourgeois lifestyles, the Duchess began creating ensembles out of found objects. Margaret Anderson, editor of the renowned bohemian literary journal The Little Review, recalled that she began creating costumes that “resulted in her arrest whenever she appeared on the street.”
Her Story: Born Elsa Hildegard Plotz in 1874, by 1894 she was working as an artist’s model in Berlin. By the turn-of-the-century she had traveled extensively to Switzerland and Italy, and was living in Munich. Returning to Berlin with second husband Felix Greve, the two eventually moved to Kentucky. He abandoned her soon after, at which point, she moved to Cincinnati and then to New York City, where she took on the title of Duchess following marriage to Baron Leopold von Freytag-Loringhoven. He left soon after to fight in WWI. She was never to see him again.
Her Style: In her very public flaunting of her defiance of stereotypical female rolls, the Duchess is credited with some of the following ensembles:
“So she shaved her head. Next she lacquered it a high vermillion. Then she stole the crepe from the door of a house of morning and made a dress out of it,” recalls Margaret Anderson. Later, upon arriving at The Little Review offices, she took off the crepe. “I’m better when I’m nude, she said.” 
“A bride lost the heel of her left shoe at the tube station,” reported friend William Carlos Williams, “lost, it becomes a jewel, a ruby in La Baronne’s miscellany.” 
Painter George Biddle recalls the Baronness inquiring if he needed a model. “I told her I’d like to see her in the nude. With a royal gesture she swept apart the folds of a scarlet raincoat. She stood before me quite naked—or nearly so. Over the nipples of her breasts were two twin tomato cans, fastened with a green string about her back. Between the tomato cans hung a very small bird-cage and a crestfallen canary.” 
For further discussion see:
Butts, M. “The Master’s’ Last Dancing,” The New Yorker, March 30, 1998.
Steinke, R. Holy Skirts, William Morrow, New York, 2005
Francis Nauman Galleries. Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
 Gammel, I. Baronness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity. The MIT Press, Cambridge, 2002.
 Cotter, H. The Mama of Dada. The New York Times, May 19, 2002.
[3-7] Gammel, I. Baronness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity. The MIT Press, Cambridge, 2002.
(1&2) International News Photography (INP), Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, 1915. Photograph. copywright 2001 Bettman/Corbis/Magma
Theresa Bernstein, The Baronness, ca. 1917. Prancis M. Naumann Collection, New York.
George Biddle. The Baronness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, 1921. Francis M. Naumann Collection, New York.
Death Mask of Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, 1927. Photograph by Mark Vaux in transition, February, 1928.
They gave him garments of servitude, which he imagined the candid cloak of the martyr
Oh naïve! Natively naïve! Fez and boots for his free domesticated feet…
He rids himself of his collar–his tie hides the sweat soaking his shirt–of his somber jacket.
He leans over a second plain saturated with fezzes and blood. (179)
From Léopold Senghor, “The Despair of a Free Volunteer”, cited in “Photography, Poetry, and the Dressed Bodies of Léopold Sédar Senghor” by Leslie Rabine.
Analysis of the life and work of a well-known Senegalese poet is one of the many observative approaches to the titular subject of African Dress. Offering the authority of a host of PhDs in African and dress-related subjects, this book offers a compendium of essays broad in scope and focused in nature. Arranged in four Parts, they begin under the rubric of “Dressed Bodies and Power,” move through “Material Culture, Visual Recognition and Display” and “Connecting Worlds Through Dress,” and finish with “Transculturated Bodies.” Of course, many could easily fall under more than one of these headings; as one authors notes, “clothing, after all, is complicated.” (77) In these sections you will find: the lightness and frivolity and deadly seriousness of colorful textiles that are local, imported, or both; politics; incarnations of the veil; military history; traditional and modern embroideries; colonialism; fashion photography; Obama; poetry; and travel. Lots of gender, some sexuality, very little on non-traditional gender identities or diverse sexualities, but the lack reflects the nature of the societies observed. Questions and conflict surrounding religious dress abound, as these are common and public topics in the featured countries.
Senegal is most often represented, along with Nigeria and Ghana; West Africa dominates the scholarship. While each of the essays is located in a specific city (or two), sartorial expression is a complicated construction, and ethnicities and religions that don’t conform to geographic boundaries often manifest as stronger influences than national identity. The figural, modern “Ghana Boy” embroidered tunics Victoria Rovine contrasts with the traditional, Islamic tilbi garments in Mali belong to a group of young men who define themselves more by travel, experiences, and age than by country of origin. Tina Mangieri’s work most explicitly studies this local/Islamic/Western collision felt by Swahili Muslim men who live in Kenya.
Typical opening pages of a chapter. From “African Dress,” 2013.
A strength of the book is its Afrocentric approach: fashion is defined in African terms, by Igbo and Ghanaian traditions. Editor Karen Tranberg Hansen, a well-known scholar of African dress, fashion, and domesticity, notes in her introduction:
When it comes to the study of dress practice in Africa, we are confronted by a widespread scholarly tendency that privileges Western exceptionalism and denies any non-Western agency in the development of fashion. (1)
She notes other concerns within the more general study of dress and fashion:
One is the trivialization of consumers’ interests in clothes, an antifashion tendency the devalues the significance of dress as a cultural and economic phenomenon…The second concern is the distinction between fashion in the West and the ‘traditional’ clothing of much of the rest of the world, unchanged for generations, drawn by scholars who attribute fashion’s origins to the development of the capitalist production system in the West. …A third concern arises from the lingering effects of the trickle-down theories that have restrained our understanding of the sources and currents of dress inspirations. (4-5)
Western-African ties, conflicts, and cultural influence rumble right beneath and often break the surface, unavoidable when studying contemporary dress issues in an increasingly global world. Western theorists such as Veblen, Barthes, and Simmel make their obligatory appearances, but the authors also adapt or manipulate these well-worn theories to fit non-western cultures, or reject the Western foundations for a more inclusive, global fashion history, as challenged by Hansen in the introduction. Kelly Kirby drops a range of fashion theory names in the introduction to her essay, “Bazin Riche in Dakar, Senegal: Altered Inception, Use, and Wear,” as she seeks to find a satisfactory definition of “dress” and “fashion”:
Following Hansen, I use the term dress in this chapter to be inclusive of both cloth and clothing. I also build upon Barnes and Eicher’s definition of dress as “an assemblage of body modifications and/or supplements displayed by a person in communicating with other human beings’. … I draw from Georg Simmel’s definition of fashion to make a final distinction between dress and fashion. Simmel suggests fashion is a ‘form of imitation and so of social equalization…The elite initiates a fashion and, when the mass imitates it in an effort to obliterate the external distinctions of class, abandons it for a newer mode’. Thus, according to Simmel, individuals have minimal freedom as adherents to fashion yet are liberated from having to make personal choices about what to wear. (64-65)
She later locates shortcomings in applying Simmel’s rich-first theory to her examination of the use of a cloth imbued with socially-constructed web of class, wealth, and display:
I suggest, however, that intent–intent of the observer, of the wearer, and the creator–must be considered as an important component that contributes to the augmented values related to the use and wear of bazin riche. In this context, then, what Simmel’s perspective on fashion lacks is recognition that no one, not even the elite can ‘pay’ for the gift of creativity. And therefore, rich or poor, ‘intent’ and the ability to execute it is not always contingent upon socioeconomic status. (73)
Are these old-school theorists relevant here? The first essay, “Dressing for Success: The Politically Performative Quality of an Igbo Woman’s Attire,” may be most successful in that endeavor; the rites, rituals, and performance Misty Bastian observed, experienced, and describes for the reader belong singularly to the town of Onitsha, in Nigeria. In this and many other chapters, the experiential real stands for itself and has no use for or intentional basis in Western theory. What is African fashion theory? Should, or could, it be established? Do we need a theoretical framework to understand each fashion system, and does the negation of existing models require the construction of one or many new?
The tone of most of the chapters skews toward the anthropological and academic; that is to say, probably most of interest to those already engaged in advancing their knowledge of the subject. The form of the book itself privileges the written word and includes, at maximum, three black-and-white photos and one color plate.
Color plate featuring commemorative Obama fabric; facing two black and white figures from a different article. From “African Dress,” 2013.
The series to which this book belongs, Dress, Body and Culture (Bloomsbury), features a few titles that encompass African fashion practices, some edited by contributors to African Dress. The format will be familiar to readers of that series, providing great research, ample citations, excellent bibliographies, and highly quotable writing, but is not quite enjoyable to read cover to cover. There is a lot of information here. Much like collections of short stories, these edited volumes of short, focused research allow the reader to choose which subjects are most applicable to one’s interests, and take the work on in smaller chunks. That said, the flow of the book is pleasantly intentional, as set out by Hansen in the introduction (6-9). It’s nice to read a chapter about the Senegalese notion of sañse (to dress up; a complete outfit (63)) and see the concept referenced in the following chapter on Mauritanian shabiba (85). There are a few gratuitous instances of academic buzzwords like “performative” and “unpack,” but this comes with the territory, and did not ultimately take away from the content.
African dress has lately been highlighted by the Western fashion press, most significantly Lagos and Nigerian Fashion. The Business of Fashion ran an article on November 5 about Morocco outpacing its neighboring countries in the fashion race (or…in attracting fashion chains, at least). Suzy Menkes chaired the “Promise of Africa” conference last year, on Worn Through here. Guaranty Trust Bank Lagos Fashion and Design Week happened last month, and The Financial Times Style section recently called Lagos a “global fashion hotspot.” While the authors in African Dress define fashion and dress in a unique, Afrocentric way, newspapers and magazines are combing these cities and fashion systems into the stream of catwalks, skinny models, and spiraling Seasons–privileging that Western construction of fashion. Lagos, in its success, is poised to become a metonym for African Fashion–perhaps to its benefit, like New York’s situation in America, although being the fashion capital of an entire continent is quite a different responsibility. While African fashion deserves more than an ethnographic or anthropological review of its fashion systems–it can be fun and frivolous too–the articles in this book successfully value the small details and the distinctions of each place.
As Hansen writes in the introduction, this book is unique and worthwhile because
it not only features scholars who enjoy exceptional access to sources close to public persona like Josephine Baker, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Malick Sidibé but also contributors who have experienced the trials and tribulations as well as the joys of conducting research on clothing in the context of everyday life in some of Africa’s most bustling cities. (6)
A generalist addition to the genre, it is an example to emerging scholars in African studies, anthropology, and dress history that will serve to educate on the “rising star” of Africa from a human perspective or to expand a research paper or inspire fieldwork. Good research practices, interesting subject matter, and logical, easy-to-read presentation are reasons enough to pick up this book. As a title, African Dress aspires to cover an extremely large landmass comprising many distinctive nations, ethnicities, and cultures; the content deftly continues to work toward defining that broad term by offering engaging individual stories, showing the average reader that African dress is more than kente cloth and postcolonial performance.
Lead Photo Credit: Cover of African Dress: Fashion, Agency, Performance edited by Karen Tranberg Hansen and D. Soyini Madison. Bloomsbury, 2013.
Find more book reviews on Worn Through here!
Craik, Jennifer. The Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion. London: Routledge, 1993.
Eicher, Joanne B., Sandra Lee Evenson and Hazel A. Lutz. The Visible Self: Global Perspectives on Dress, Culture, and Society [3rd ed.]. New York: Fairchild Books, 2008.
Eicher, Joanne B. Dress and Ethnicity: Change Across Space and Time.
Gott, Suzanne and Kristyne Loughran. Contemporary African Fashion. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2010.
Hansen, Karen Tranberg. Salaula: The World of Secondhand Clothing and Zambia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Hansen, Karen Tranberg, ed. African Encounters with Domesticity. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992.
Hendrickson, Hildi. Clothing and Difference: Embodied Identities in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.
Maynard, Margaret. Dress and Globalisation. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2004.
Perani, Judith and Norma H. Wolff. Cloth, Dress and Art Patronage in Africa. Oxford: Berg, 1999.
And, obviously, dozens more.
I have been noticing, on my way to work, for a few weeks now, several intriguing posters promoting a new upcoming show, the Mugler Follies. I kept wandering whether this had anything to do with the iconic 1980s’ designer, Thierry Mugler, even though the poster does deliver a few clues with its familiar aesthetic.
Mugler Follies Poster
I, therefore, decided to take a closer look at this spectacle. And, indeed, Manfred Thierry Mugler (as he now presents himself) has decided to make a festive comeback alongside the announcement, he is to become, once again, the creative director of his own brand. The Mugler Follies is a long-time dream coming true for the multidisciplinary artist who aims to revisit the cabaret show by combining eroticism, technology and glamour with numerous performers including an iconic 1970s French queer heroine, Marie-France.
Copyright: Manfred Thierry Mugler
Manfred T. Mugler has always loved the spectacular, staging the most astounding fashion shows in the 1980s, promoting a new way of presenting collections on catwalks. With the designer, the fashion SHOW took all its sense to reach its peak in 1984 when Thierry Mugler enabled the public to buy tickets for his presentation, just as it would do for a rock concert. People were invited to discover a dramatic ‘mise-en-scène’ with mannequins enhanced and transformed by surreal costumes. His creations were indeed also full of imagination with his half animal or insect/ half women wearing dreamlike futuristic and hyper feminine and sexy, almost bizarre, outfits that tended to resemble stage costumes. He therefore blurred the lines between costume and fashion, stage and reality.
Copyright: Manfred Thierry Mugler
His love for the stage was also developed within various collaborations with the Cirque du Soleil or, more recently, Beyonce’s world tour. This theatrical passion may be explained by the designer’s career, starting at the age of nine as a member the Rhine’s Opera Ballets before studying interior design. The man knows the stage and knows how to highlight spatial environments.
Multi-tasked fashion designers has become a trivial concept. As artists, they tend to put their hands on various disciplines, when you come to create garments and imagine shows and ads, why can’t you draw furniture or stage a theatrical show? It’s all about creativity, no? Manfred T. Mugler has always done so: from couture to photography and stage creative direction.
Copyright: Manfred Thierry Mugler
Fashion designers and stage have been closely linked for decades and I have already written, here, about the intimate relationship ballet and fashion have elaborated since the beginning of the 20th century. However, there is something new in imagining one’s very own variety show. Even though he doesn’t act in his cabaret (Isaac Mizrahi did a successful one-man show, in January 2013), Manfred T. Mugler clearly proposes a personal tribute to his creations with his Mugler Follies that draw on his ‘Hollywood glamour meets sci-fi’ aesthetic and costumes. The fashion designer had been absent for a few years and will, therefore find, with his production, a new way of acknowledging his fashion fans as well as new spectators, cabaret lovers.
Copyright: Manfred Thierry Mugler
To be honest, I am not quite sure I’ll attend the show as I am not a huge cabaret lover but I’m very curious to discover more about it (it opens on the 10th December.) What kind of public will attend it? What about the costumes for real?
What do you think of this venturing outside the standard boarders of fashion design? And what about a designer who, in a certain way, honours himself?
You can find full information about the show on its dedicated website: http://muglerfollies.com/
German-born actress Marlene Dietrich is one whose unique style and ability to blur gender lines through clothing has endured for decades, influencing the creation of Yves Saint Laurent’s le smoking tuxedo suit in 1966 as well as countless other designers, photographers, and editors. Here we present to you some images demonstrating Dietrich’s continued ability to serve as muse for fashion’s creative minds.
Dietrich in one of her signature suits, 1933 Vogue Germany, February 2013
Photo by Eugene Robert Richee, 1930 Beyonce for L’Uomo Vogue, June 2011
“Shanghai Express,” 1932 Jason Wu Fall/Winter 2012
Photo by William Walling, Jr., 1934 Kirsten Dunst for V Magazine, Spring 2010
“Manpower,” 1941 Galliano for Dior RTW Spring/Summer 2004
International Colloquium on Textile Engineering, Fashion, Apparel and Design 2014
April 7th-8th 2014
The conference seeks to become a platform for Engineers, Technologists, Scientists, Designers, Apparel Technologists, Managers and Fashion Enthusiasts to share the latest trends and technological breakthroughs in the complex areas of textiles. International and national submissions are encouraged.
Authors are welcome to present their original work in the following research tracks but are not limited to:
- Smart Fabrics and Wearable Technologies and Engineering
- High Performance Textiles in Sports
- Synthetic and Natural Pigments and Dyes
- Innovation in Textile Coloration and Finishing
Fashion, Apparel and Design
- Clothing Design and Manufacturing
- Future Trends and Visions for Textile, Apparel and Fashion
- Education and Training in Textile and Apparel
- Design, Fashion, Footwear Product and Materials Innovation
Deadline for submissions: November 10th 2013
For more information about the colloquium and complete submission requirements, visit the ICTEFAD webpage.
Image sourced from ITAA pintrest
I have been charged for the past several years with reporting to Worn Through readers an account and overview of the yearly International Apparel Association conference. This year the conference was held in New Orleans.
I was impressed by the caliber of design work in the live show this year. As well, delighted to notice that there is a growing number of design awards being offered. As an interdisciplinary practitioner I was especially excited by a discussion regarding Interdisciplinary formats for future seminars. The special topics session coordinated by the ITAA Philosophical Mission Committee offered a full bank of top-notch speakers. Look for the call from ITAA for new seminar concepts in 2014.
The 2013 ITAA keynote speaker was Rick Helfenbein – President of Luen Thai USA, the largest publicly traded apparel supply chain services company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. This year Gwendolyn O’Neal was The ITAA Distinguished Lecturer, she spoke of the challenges and opportunities of becoming a highly effective organization and the new skills and competencies needed by leaders to succeed in the coming decades.
Image sourced from NOLAFC.org
This years design panel included Andi Eaton who is the founder of the vibrant NOLA Fashion Council, a non-profit organization that creates opportunity and exposure for both established and up-and-coming Southern based or born designers, while making an economic and artistic impact on the fashion and beauty industry.
Personal obligations shaped my experience of the conference this year. The 2013 conference was unique for me (because of the recent birth of my daughter who is not yet bottle trained) as I spent most of the conference in the elevator between the rooms where I presented and my hotel room. In order to offer the readership a well-rounded overview I elected to interview two colleagues to share there impressions of this year conference.
I reached out to Kendra Lapolla, an Associate Professor at Kent State School of Fashion Design and Merchandising. We met at ITAA three years ago and she is a colleague I love catching up with each year. I asked Kendra what the highlights of the 2013 conference were. She was at ITAA to present research in design.
I’d have to say the opening reception and the live gallery. I thought the opening reception was a great kick off to the event. I especially enjoyed seeing all of the amazing masks that others had made specifically for the opening reception. The live gallery show is also always a great part of the conference and an exciting way to see all the inspiring work. This year I tried to sit with different groups of people everyday for breakfast and lunch. I have to say it was an excellent way to network and reach out to those at ITAA that I haven’t met yet. New Orleans was an enjoyable location for the conference and it was nice that Thursday afternoon was scheduled for exploring. I caught up with a colleague during that time and ventured to the French Market. (personal communication. 10/2013)
Image sourced online.
I also reached out to Martha Hall, Adjunct Instructor at The University of Delaware. This was Martha’s first ITAA conference. Martha was at ITAA to present original research on Dress History, Culture, and Aesthetics.
As first time attendee and recent graduate I was both excited and intimidated to go to the ITAA conference. It represented an amazing opportunity to present research (to get feedback, to get recognition, to challenge myself and be challenged) as well as an opportunity to meet and network with colleagues and peers. I was only staying for one full day of the conference, so I intended to make the most of my time there! I presented during the first session on Thursday, and was overwhelmed with the attendance and response. I was presenting a portion of my thesis research and of course was a bit nervous. I had done a huge study based on original research, and as a graduate student member, it’s a little nerve-racking to stand up in front of esteemed members of the fashion and textiles professoriate. But it went really well and the questions I received following the presentation were stimulating and reflected an attentive audience.
In addition to having the opportunity to present, the most exhilarating part of the entire experience was meeting and networking with colleagues. I’m not embarrassed to say, I completely “geeked out” with meeting some of the attendees. As a grad student immersed in research articles and texts, it is unreal to have the chance to meet some of the people whose work I’ve cited or whose texts I’ve read (Gwendolyn O’Neal, Jean Parsons, Susan Kaiser, Linda Welters…). To be presenting research based on the aesthetic framework of Marilyn DeLong and then be introduced to Marilyn DeLong moments later – realizing she was listening to my presentation – was thrilling! That type of one-to-one engagement with colleagues, from “celebrity professors” to grad students, made the trip to New Orleans such a rewarding and personally enriching experience. I came home with many new friends (including WT contributor Ingrid Mida!) and bursting with ideas for new avenues for scholarship!
In terms of suggestions for improvement: I think that had I not had friends guiding me through the conference, I would have had no idea where to go or what options I had for attending some of the casual sessions (like those during meals). As a first time attendee, I’m overwhelmed just being there and especially if I’m presenting; it would have been really helpful to have had instruction or a general guide from the registration desk about events/sessions, etc. (Personal communication. 10/2013)
Did you attend ITAA this year? What were highlights from your perspective?
For October, I’ve selected a group of slightly sinister documentaries and videos, each focusing on some of fashion’s darker influences. The first two films recount the lives of fashion deviants who produced spectacular garments which at times were also quite disturbing. While the third group of videos focus on a highly influential style that was rooted in rebellion and destruction. As fashion visionary Rei Kawakubo perfectly stated, “For something to be beautiful it doesn’t have to be pretty.”
The Legend of Leigh Bowery (2002)
Image from Leigh Bowery Looks: Photographs by Ferguson Greer 1988-1994
The provocative exploits of artist-musician-fashion designer-performer Leigh Bowery are retold in this 2002 documentary. Interviews with family members, discussions with museum curators, and a large amount of archival footage are expertly combined, illustrating Bowery’s humble beginnings in Australia and his meteoric rise to underground avant-garde fashion legend.
Falling outside of the traditional fashion milieu, Bowery’s costumes are dark, glamorous, and inspiring. Bowery did not design with commercial success in mind. Instead, Bowery’s extravagant fashion creations were a true artistic expression.
While many of the works portrayed in the film are very powerful, a deeper understanding of Bowery’s work would have been possible if placed in context with popular fashion, art, and music of the time. In addition, investigation into Bowery’s influence and legacy would have completed the film.
The Legend of Leigh Bowery is available on DVD through Netflix.
McQueen and I (2011)
Image from Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
Produced for Channel 4 UK, McQueen and I traces Alexander McQueen’s rapid rise from fashion school student to one of the most influential and eccentric voices in the fashion industry.
McQueen and I explores the tumultuous relationship McQueen had with patron and muse Isabella Blow. Recent interviews with family members, archival footage of Blow and McQueen, and early McQueen fashion shows are seamlessly woven together, telling the dark story of two fashion innovators and the untimely death of both by suicide.
McQueen and I provides a valuable and rare look at the story behind the now fabled fashion designer. As well as providing an insightful look into the life and influence of Isabella Blow. Stunning video of McQueen fashion shows, including his work at Givenchy and Gucci, are used throughout the film.
McQueen and I is a poignant documentary and a particularly important view for the twentieth century fashion historian.
View the full McQueen and I video on YouTube.
Punk: Chaos to Couture Exhibition Video Resources
Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Did you miss the Punk: Chaos to Couture spectacle this past summer at the Met? Wish you could have visited a second time for a closer investigation? If so, below is a useful collection of audio and video features available online.
Punk Gallery Views
This is a fast paced visual tour of the exhibition narrated by curator Andrew Bolton. The concise video highlights ensembles and installation details that could have been easily overlooked. Excellent close-up images and gallery views are provided throughout the video and are almost better than when viewing the exhibition with hundreds of other visitors and under dark dramatic lighting.
In addition, the audio feature at the bottom of the page is an excellent supplement to the video. After viewing the video, some of the information is repetitive however Bolton’s narration is easier to follow in the audio component.
Punk Interview for Vogue Italia
A 2o minute behind-the-scenes interview with Bolton, spliced together with images from the catalog and garments as they are prepared for installation. Bolton introduces us to the key concepts in Punk while explaining the ideas behind a number of the exhibition design elements. Bolton is much more personable and conversational in this video, helping to convey his excitement about the subject matter.