The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics (MCP) seeks papers for a themed issue on Indigenous Film and Media. Papers should address any aspect of Indigenous, Aboriginal, First Nations, Maori, Sami, etc. film, media, and popular cultures.
MCP is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and popular cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those which run across cultures, nations, and nation-states. Consequently, this themed volume welcomes comparative research across media and/or Indigenous ethnicities and cultures. In particular, the volume highly encourages comparative papers between Indigenous and, say, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and African film, media, and popular cultures.
Topics might address, but are not in any way limited to the following:
Video Games, Blogging, YouTube
Comic books, Graphic novels, and Cartoons
Theater, Festivals, Spectacles, and Ceremonies
MCP invites interested contributors to submt (4,000-8,000 word) essays, short commentaries (2,500-3,000), and book reviews (1,000-2,500) on Indigenous film, new media, social media, and popular cultural politics. Contributors should also include brief biographical notes of approximately 200 words.
Deadline for submissions: May 30, 2014
Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Easter weekend, we will look back at my post from September 2013, in which Diesel presented interpretations of religious dress in their world-famous denim.
When Diesel’s first ad campaign under its new artistic director, Nicola Formichetti, came out in late August, bubbles of disapproval and disappointment and loathing about one of the many images in the Reboot campaign arose and floated around blogs, Buzzfeed, and The Huffington Post. The discussion circled around a shallow “offensive/edgy” binary deemed innate to the image, which discussion commentators (and commenters) fell into naturally: here is a semi-naked, white (?), tattooed woman wearing a niqab presumably made of Diesel denim, a studded back pocket over her face as design accent. And: go.
From Diesel’s 2013 “Reboot” advertising campaign.
Huffpo asked its readers “Did Diesel cross the line?” without really drawing one in the sand; you can imagine the comments that question encouraged. The intense disagreement suggests that the question of whether this is “offensive or not”–because it’s not provocative or daring or challenging, it’s offensive…or it’s edgy–is to be determined by the individual observer, not by the cultural observer.
Some commented on Formichetti appropriating a “sacred niqab” out of its religious context to further his career, others insisted that veils are a social–not a religious–construction, and very few noted that this garment was not meant for actual consumption, not going to be following the “plus-sized” found model and Casey Legler, other models in the campaign, down any runway. Shock factor was mentioned and determined to be in very poor taste. Opinions!
There are so many question-layers of agency in the niqab image: the core issue of the agency of women in Middle Eastern countries, their societies so often clumped together, misunderstood, and ascribed the worst social woes of each; the agency of Eastern imagery and objects in Western consumerism; the role of artistic director as artist, as representative of an international brand, as a member of the fashion system.Questions of one’s Muslim-ness and whether the image offended morphed into that age-old conversation about who is “allowed” to be offended or make pronouncements about offensiveness to Muslim women.
Many Muslim women spoke out, mainly against the ad. The threat of Islamophobia in America is very, very serious and the further complication of this garment–especially as regards sexuality–can be seen as irresponsible. Responses like that of Shruti Parekh are vital to the maintenance of real, true, and thoughtful perceptions of the diversity of Middle Eastern cultures both in America and abroad. When presented in a considered manner, the opposition to this campaign helps foster “dialogue.” But I continue to be struck by the frenetic use of our generous avenues of communication by some to exploit exploitation. What is the difference between an international brand using intentionally inflammatory images to spark conversation and a fashion blogger using intentionally inflammatory language to do the same?
One difference is, of course, that even if this garment is not for sale, the rest of the collection is. Designer Kenneth Cole is another famous seeker of controversy, criticized often and loudly for his Twitter advertising “jokes” about Syria and Egypt (and sandals and riots). Cole sees his fashion-maker status as an opportunity to get people talking, and his detractors see him as exploiting international crises and news items to drive sales.Some who disagreed with his tweets created interesting and engaging opposition, but the majority found an easy target and denied Cole the “dialogue” he supposedly seeks to incite, fighting his tactics because it looks good or because someone tweeted their inspiring disappointment first and everyone loves a trending hashtag. Is Formichetti the new Cole? Should a supposedly “off-the-cuff” tweet be considered in a different context than an orchestrated campaign?
Is the Catholic imagery in another of the Reboot campaign’s advertisements too tame to incite commentary in 2013? Is a tattooed young drag queen in a studded denim mitre expected in the fashion sphere? If boychild is naked under that robe, is it offensive, or might it be construed as a clever nod to certain scandals that have plagued the church in recent years?
From Diesel’s 2013 “Reboot” advertising campaign.
Those who are offended by the interpretation of Pope Joan above might be as disheartened by the commodification and dilution of the power of their religious garments as Sana Saeed, who wrote about the Diesel niqab: “Long dreaded the day that ‘THE VEIL’ [would] become so subversive that capitalism [would] just consume it. Then this Diesel ad.” When it comes to religiously-affiliated dress, whether Catholic or Muslim (or whatever), what is powerful and what is oppressive? I think both of the pictured garments represent both of those adjectives. Do they belong in the realm of fashion advertising?
Only one writer, Angel Millar, remarked on the nature of the material used to make the “make-shift niqab,” noting the juxtaposition of All-American Denim and its freedom/democracy/mainstream/(pop?) connotations with the staid/oppressive/religious of veils:
A denim niqab seems at once to indicate a rejection of both Western values and religious literalism, and it seems to hint at the fusion of East and West on the level of material culture.
Millar gives two examples of Islam’s influence on Western fashion: Poiret and Chalayan. The first was meant to establish the long connection between the two worlds; it may be generous to say “Islam’s influence on…” instead of “The West’s co-opting of…”, but the point is: this is not as new as some think. But the use of the niqab/burqa to intentionally provoke in the Reboot ad is perhaps better compared to Chalayan’s “Burka,” a collection from 1996, which is called “challenging” and “art” (links nsfw). If Diesel had presented this niqab in a runway show as opposed to in an advertising campaign, would it have landed differently? Does Chalayan, seen as a high-fashion artist, have more leeway to explore these themes than Diesel, seen as a mass-market brand, or are their approaches fundamentally different?
How does “I am not what I appear to be” intersect with the niqab image? What are the social questions that may be answered by society at large or by a majority, as opposed to left up to each consumer, observer, and citizen? Is there a line to be crossed here, and how would you define it? Please leave your respectful comments below.
The Midwest Popular Culture Association and Midwest American Culture Association will be hosting their annual conference October 3-5, 2014 in Indianapolis, IN.
Topics can include, but are not limited to, fashion as it is represented in literature, film, television, or music; fashion as it pertains to current popular culture or popular culture of any time period of the past; the fashions of celebrities; or sociological implications of fashion in our culture.
Abstracts must be 250 words and address any aspect of fashion to the “Fashion” area of the submissions website. Please include your name, affiliation, and e-mail address with the 250 word abstract. Also, please indicate in your submission whether your presentation will require an LCD Projector.
Additionally, there are graduate student travel grants available! More information may be found here.
Deadline for submissions: April 30, 2014
Please upload all proposals here.
Any questions may be forwarded to Kelli Purcell O’Brien at email@example.com.
American Studies Association of Texas: Reimagining, Reframing, and Reflecting American Studies in the 21st Century
November 13-15, 2014
Sam Houston State University
This Call for Papers invites submissions that examine the controversies of the field, both resolved and ongoing, through the varied lenses of scholars across disciplines. We ask the broad question: as society becomes more global, in what ways do scholars, artists, and musicians reimagine, reframe, or reflect what it is to be American?
Possible questions to consider:
- How has American Identity shaped or been shaped by concepts of American Individualism?
- How has the conflicted political past/present reshaped American Identity?
- How has our own art and music reflected the American Ideal? Are there such things as uniquely American food, music, art, culture?
- Has the embracing of multicultural elements in society reflected or deflected our understanding of what it is to be American?
- How is multiculturalism reflected in current American culture?
Papers are invited from a variety of disciplines which reflect the conference theme, including:
- Art (visual and performing)
- Gender (in America)
- History (General, Cultural, Economic, Social)
Abstract deadline: July 1, 2014
Abstract length: 500 words
Please submit abstracts to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, please contact Barbara Miles at email@example.com.
DECADENCE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
August 15-17, 2014
If it is a cliché to speak of one’s own age as decadent, so be it. These are decadent times. Justin Bieber’s car collection and Viktor Yanukovych’s presidential palace fit comfortably in a world where the 85 richest people have accumulated as much wealth as the poorest half of the planet’s population, according to a recent Oxfam study. Such narrowly defined good times cannot roll. This disparity between extreme wealth and poverty expresses the paradox inherent in the term “decadence.”
Although literary critics most commonly associate decadence with nineteenth-century and fin-de-siècle authors such as Baudelaire, the French Symbolists, and Oscar Wilde, this interdisciplinary conference aims to encourage exploration of the ways in which this term can be effectively applied to a variety of historical and contemporary subjects, periods, or politics. It seems clear that the various manifestations of decadence could never—and cannot now—be articulated, illustrated, or even imagined independently of a particular complex of cultural, moral, or socio-political conditions. But how does decadence figure into other disciplines? What does decadence look like in the twenty-first century? Are exquisite excesses inevitable, or even necessary?
The Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English (DAGSE) invites submissions for paper presentations for “Decadence: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference.” We welcome proposals from students at all levels and in all areas of graduate study. This three-day conference will be held August 15-17, 2014 at Dalhousie University, located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will investigate the symptoms and effects of decadence as a literary, artistic, historical, and socio-cultural phenomenon.
We invite proposals for papers (15-20 minutes) on themes and subjects including, but not limited to:
- Neoliberalism: patterns of production and consumption
- Decadence and the Ivory Tower
- Sexuality and gender; hypersexuality and erotomania
- Aestheticism, Symbolism, and fin-de-siècle literature
- Decadence abroad: the French Decadents, the “Lost Generation,” et al.
- The Dandy, the flâneur, the bon viveur: decadence and self-fashioning
- Aristocratic and political excesses
- Physical, aesthetic, or intellectual pleasures
- Health and Fitness, HGH, plastic surgery, and biohacking
Deadline for abstracts: April 25, 2014
Abstract length: 250-words
Please send abstracts to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Full posting and submission requirements at the conference website.
Last night I was able to attend the last of a series of talks curated by Dr Carolyn Mair, MA course leader at London College of Fashion (LCF), and entitled ‘Looking Ahead…isms in Fashion’. Previous talks in the series have covered topics such as ageism, racism and ableism, underlining LCF’s initative Better Lives, which aims to develop our understanding of sustainaiblity within the business of fashion. This final presentation was a panel discussion between a range of diverse speakers, all asked to reflect upon what the Chair, Dr Phil Sams, suggested were ‘tools’ at our disposal in effecting positive change upon a range of long-held stereotypes within the fashion industry.
James Partridge, founder and CEO of UK charity Changing Faces
The discussion was structured around brief presentations by all the speakers and the order of service was well considered. It began with two very positive, eloquent and engaging introductions by James Partridge, the founder and Chief Executive of Changing Faces, the distinguished UK charity supporting people with disfigurements, and Caryn Franklin MBE, fashion broadcaster and co-founder of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, an independent organization focused on challenging stereotypes of body ideals within the fashion industry.
All Walks Beyond the Catwalks 2013 campaign to diversify media representation of body shapes
Both were able to raise questions about fashion, well-being and diversity that struck a personal chord with the audience. James engaged us by revealing just how many people know someone with a disfigurement while noting how research suggests we still psychologically associate negative characteristics with people based upon their physical appearance. Caryn suggested we consider what is meant by ‘success’ not just within the fashion industry but when we get dressed every morning. Caryn asked us whether what we chose to wear was an experience of anxiety and conformity or affirmation and individualisation. This personal approach to the subject of exclusion, identity and fashion was certainly inspiring. While Caryn talked of the ‘extraordinary’ as a profitable antidote to the emphasis on normalization within the business of fashion, James highlighted a recent media campaign by Illamasqua, a cosmetics company, whose slogan ‘beauty is imperfection’ helped to recognize facial diversity within society.
Illamasqua 2013 ‘Imperfection’ campaign featuring a model with a facial birthmark
However, for me, the highlight of the panel discussion was the elucidating contributions by the last two speakers. Firstly, Dr Chris Pawson, a community psychologist and Principal Lecturer in Clinical & Community Psychology at the Institute for Research in Child Development, reminded us of how external circumstances, such as socio-economic systems, can negatively impact upon our mental well-being. As he put it, some people definitely have a rougher time of it than others. To only suggest a range of therapeutic methods that focus on self-improvement fails to address wider communal issues. Chris drew our attention to the way in which stereotypes are the products of socialization, not just cognitive hardwiring as referred to by other panel and audience members. Chris also voiced the oppression felt by young people when faced with pressure to conform to fashion trends or particular ways of dressing in order to be fully accepted into society, however, he was equally optimistic about fashion’s contribution to enhanced self-esteem.
M&S 2013 clothing campaign featuring Helen Mirren (actress), Tracey Emin (artist) and Katie Piper (philanthropist)
Chris was followed by Dr Carolyn Mair, the primary instigator behind these talks, who pointed out that fashion was still a very narrow business in terms of social representation, reflected in the fact that a third of Britain’s population are over the age of fifty yet barely seen in fashion representation. However, the fact that the clothes worn by Helen Mirren and Tracey Emin in the recent Marks & Spencer (M&S) campaign were the first to sell out clearly highlight the profits of appealing to a more diverse fashion consumer.
Both Chris and Carolyn brought a critical eye to a discussion that covered explicit themes such as the normalization of dress, identity and diversity, yet, arguably, more implicit themes of exclusion, anxiety and conformity were less considered. Here, it might have been interesting to include Daniel Miller, material anthropologist at UCL, or Rebecca Arnold, fashion historian at the Courtauld Institute of Art, who have both written about the various ways in which fashion and dress manifests anxieties around a range of issues, including perceived body ideals.
Instead, the final contribution to the discussion was given by Zowie Broach, co-creator of Boudicca, a London based design house, whose practitioner stance would offer insight into how fashion design might help to improve our lives. Unfortunately, her presentation with its focus on a recent art piece rather than the inherent structural challenges of working in fashion failed to engage me despite her being considerably moved by what the other speakers had to say. Zowie observed that the issues raised all made her feel quite ‘sad’. Yet it seems to me that if the fashion industry and the public are to move forward in terms of broadening our perception of what is ‘normal’, perhaps it is better to transform this sympathy, which rarely resolves and more often condones ‘isms’, into an empathy so we can start to imagine ourselves in the body/dress of another in an effort to see the world from their perspective.
Boudicca’s The Liquid Game, 2014 ( audio-visual installation)
The final audience discussion was disappointing, with very little time allowed to hear a range of questions, and was not helped by the panel Chair, who drew upon previously featured speakers amongst the audience for contributions rather than pursue lesser well-known faces amongst the sitting crowd. This was a missed opportunity to have a dialogue about ‘isms’ in more depth and perhaps in future, the panel might consider asking audience members for questions in advance.
Yet, despite these minor criticisms, the discussion was a useful starting point for thinking about cultural values, as both social and psychological phenomenon, and broader concerns about sustainability of the fashion industry. As Sandy Black has made clear, the notion of ethical or sustainable fashion is paradoxical: while the industry operates on wastefulness and obsolescence, it simultaneously claims to be our ecological and economic ally. This is perhaps why it is a challenge for designers such as Boudicca to be understood in a more critical light. But, last night’s discussion went some small way towards more intellectual reflection of cultural practices and their influence upon our efforts to ‘do better’ by fashion and by default by our complex, dressed social lives.
Finally, if you are studying anything to do with dress, fashion and mental health, I would love to hear from you. Recently, here in the UK, it was revealed that one in four people have a mental health disability. How might this impact upon people, especially when it is also often hidden from the normative gaze? How does the role of dress function within this newly emerging socio-cultural context?
 p252, Sandy Black ‘Ethical Fashion and EcoFashion’ in Steele, Valerie (ed) (2010) The Berg Companion to Fashion New York, Berg.
International Journal of Costume and Fashion (IJCF) invites papers for publication. IJCF is one of the representative academic journals of the Korean Society of Costume, published biannually in every June and December.
IJCF addresses all aspects of costume and fashion: history of dress, fashion theory, theatrical costume, fashion design, product development, aesthetics, fashion marketing and management, fashion merchandising and retailing, socio-cultural aspect of dress, social psychology of dress, clothing construction, textile science, and new technology in fashion industry. The full paper submitted by October 2014, after the review process, may be published in the journal in 2015. Manuscripts for consideration should be sent to the chief editor at email@example.com.
Abstracts of no more than 200 words are required for all papers submitted. Abstracts should briefly describe the objectives, methods, results and inquires so that the reader can better understand the contents of the manuscript. Each manuscript should have four to six keywords below the abstract. For more guidelines for submission, click here.
In February, Robin Givhan wrote a very interesting piece for The Cut about so-called “ethical fashion,” with Maiyet as a case study. The twist in that company’s luxury womenswear offerings is that they are produced not only by real, life artisans, but that said artisans hail from struggling countries or live in areas with few economic opportunities. Part of the profits support the establishment of the metalsmiths, the embroiderers, and the seamstresses as independent, profitable artisans in India, Kenya, Peru, and other places where hand craft skills are still practiced.
In her piece, Givhan dives into the qualifications of the founding partners, lists the big-name backers (Disney, Branson, etc), and has written a meaningful, timely piece on the effectiveness of the “ethical” brands we all love to support.
She outlines my pet protest:
The world of philanthropy has long known how to use Seventh Avenue to spur donations and raise our collective consciousness. Charities have inspired what might be called “pity purchases,” a transaction driven by liberal guilt, lefty do-goodism, or a host of other politically correct motivations rather than that most potent and enduring driver of obscenely priced fashion: pure, unadulterated desire. But ethical fashion still carries the stigma of being inelegant, precious, and a bit twee—unlike in the food industry, say, where customers eagerly pay a premium for farm-to-table bragging rights.
Examines the wonderfully real difficulties of working with craftspeople in global environments:
And then, says [Paul] Van Zyl, there are the silk weavers in India who work out of their homes and can’t work when the temperature soars because, without air conditioning, it’s too hot, and if the doors are left open, the goats come inside and get themselves tangled in the looms, and, well, it’s the kind of mess that the folks over at Hermès don’t have to worry about.
Not everyone can shop at luxury price points, but it’s there that mythology is born and reputations are built. If the luxury market can fetishize Lesage embroidery, can it not come to do the same with Varanasi silk?
“David Mulinga, Richard Ochieng, and the second Richard Ochieng.” Photographs copyright Guillaume Bonn/Global Assignments at Getty Images, 2014.
What I rather liked about this article was that the photographs accompanying the piece were of Kenyan craftspeople and the pieces they made for Maiyet. No CEO business headshot or “site visit” with a gaggle of smiling children. Givhan’s words were strengthened by portraits of Kenyan “partners” of the label, including the couple Maiyet first invested in through the Nest nonprofit. Givhan’s piece was about the business and product sides of Maiyet, but considering their apparently genuine interest in making small businesspeople visible and viable, it was nice to see the artisans lead the visual aspect of the article (accompanied by the obligatory magazine product-layout).
Watch videos about Maiyet artisans on their website here; how do beautifully-made media enhance the customer experience?
The portraits by Guillaume Bonn reminded me immediately of the work of Jim Naughten, known across the internet for his portraits of Hereros in their unique dress, featured on Worn Through in 2012.
From the “Herero” series by Jim Naughten, 2012. Photo copyright Jim Naughten, 2012.
Although I admire the Hereros series, and it may be unfair to compare the two photographic intentions, it is heartening to see people photographed for what they do, not what they wear. In their everyday dress (or work clothes?), accompanied by their tools and materials, these are just people! Very talented people, of course. I wonder if the photographs were taken outside of the Maiyet studio, or if the background was intentionally “neutral”?
How do you see “ethical fashion” companies portraying and representing their artisans and producers? Is it important that they are photographed, named, interviewed? Or is that another form of fetishization? Do you ask the same of your favorite small European brands or American producers (or would you have seven years ago)?
Leave your comments below!
Lead Photograph: Anton Onyango Otiende and Benta Otiende, metalsmiths from Kenya. Photograph copyright Guillaume Bonn/Global Assignments at Getty Images, 2014.
Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, an eccentric artist living in New York’s Greenwich Village in the 1910s, exemplified the disillusioned artistic movement of Dadaism through her lifestyle and garb often comprised of an array of found or stolen objects. She ran with the likes of Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, and Jean Heap wrote that she was “the only one living anywhere who dresses Dada, loves Dada, lives Dada.” Few images of the Baroness’ fashions survive, the true picture of her being painted by descriptive testimonials that inspire mainstream fashion in a way that von Freytag-Loringhoven no doubt would have despised.
Click here for more Worn Through coverage of the Baroness.
Comme des Garcons, Fall 2012
“So she shaved her head. Next she lacquered it a high vermillion. Then she stole the crepe from the door of a house of mourning and made a dress out of it.”
Elle Fanning for New York, February 18, 2014
“I went to the consulate with a large-wide sugarcoated birthday cake upon my head with fifty flaming candles lit – I felt just so spunky and afluent [sic]!” 
Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, F/W 2009
“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.” 
 Gammel, I. Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity. The MIT Press, Cambridge, 2002.
 von Freytag-Loringhoven, Elsa. Undated letter to Djuna Barnes. http://www.lib.umd.edu/dcr/collections/EvFL-class/bios.html
 Gammel, I. Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity. The MIT Press, Cambridge, 2002.
We were so thrilled to be able to offer our research award again this year.
This is the second time we’ve offered the award and once again there were smart and thoughtful entries. For 2014 we made some changes and offered one award for a student and one for a working professional.
If you’re wondering, the money comes from advertisers. So, please consider advertising if you work for a school, a museum, an auction house, a costume house, a publisher, or something of that nature that appeals to readers. Your money goes to a good cause!
The award is to help support researchers in apparel fields for travel, publishing, presenting, image rights, interviews, or other things of that nature. (It does not go to institutions, strictly individuals or teams).
This year’s winners are:
She is using the funds to assist with a research trip to the Fashion Institute of Technology for her project on Couturier Bob Bugnand. That project is being presented at CSA and submitted for publication soon.
She is using the funds to assist with her research at the Museum of London into Elizabethan and Jacobean clothing. She plans to help do cataloging for the museum. This work will then inform her PhD thesis.
Best wishes to them both and we look forward to their blog posts here on Worn Through detailing their experiences. Also thank you again to all who applied and we encourage you to apply again next year.