While researching topics for an Museum Theory class project last Spring, I stumbled upon a 1944 Life article profiling a group of teen girls in suburban Missouri who, according the the magazine, “liv[ed] in a wonderful world all their own.” Much of the story focuses on fashion, and I was struck by the accompanying photographs of 15-17 year-old girls wearing baggy jeans and oversized mens’ shirts, clothing they borrowed from their brothers and fathers and wore as an “after-school uniform”–they could have been expelled for wearing “dungarees” to school, as the girls below purportedly were.
The concept of the Fifties-era rebellious teen girl always evoked, for me, images of teddy girls and pink ladies, but other than Ken Russell’s 1955 photographs of the British “girl gangs,” early documentation of authentic teen style is scarce. That’s why the documentary Teenage, now available streaming on Netflix, Amazon and iTunes, is so remarkable. The film, directed by Matt Wolf and based on the book Teenage: The Prehistory of Youth Culture: 1875-1945 by punk historian Jon Savage, sourced diaries and home movies. It includes never-before-seen archival footage that depicts real teens and their voices: from Swing Kids, Subdebs and Bobby-Soxers and other subcultures.
Future historians should have no trouble locating video diaries of Gen Z-ers thanks to innumerable vlogs, but it was in the 1930s and 40s when the concept of the teenager itself was emerging. Seventeen magazine was founded in 1944 and promoted to advertisers as a golden opportunity to tap into a new market. At the same time, young women and men sought to take part in shaping their identities, telling a different story than in glossy newsreels like the one below.
Do your parents or grandparents have photos or stories of their teen style? I hope Teenage inspires more people to share their personal collections.
Image credit: Calumet412
Celebrate the New Year with some wonderful Pathé videos: ‘Fashions on Ice’ from 1965 and New Year’s celebrations from 1970!
If you want something a little older, see how the New Year was celebrated (and what costumes were worn) with Fancy Dresses Described, from 1887.
Resources found by Emma.
Increasingly, museums are utilizing video – along with other social media, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram – as a route to promote exhibitions and engage visitors. The Victoria and Albert museum recently set a new standard with David Bowie Is, a film documenting the exhibition of the same name that was screened in theaters worldwide in November. A number of fashion and textile museums produce video content for the web. Some, like the V&A or ModeMuseum in Antwerp, have established channels on YouTube and Vimeo, while others publish one-offs that promote collections or document behind-the-scenes work, like conservation and mounting. Four recent museum videos highlighting fashion or textile content are shared here. If there’s a recent exhibition you were unable to visit or a video installation you’d like to watch again, check out the list of museum video channels below. Is there a museum we missed? We’d love for you to share links to other channels in the comments.
Behind the Scenes: Hanging the Tapestries in Grand Design
Click the thumbnail below to watch the full video on the Met’s exhibition blog.
This video shows the process of hanging the Gluttony tapestry for the Met’s exhibition Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry, on view until January 11. Museum staff hung 19 tapestries in total, each measuring 12 to 30 feet in length and weighing around 100 pounds. The installation process, documented on the exhibition blog, took 2 weeks to complete.
The Power of Fashion: Getting Dressed
This video was filmed for the exhibition The Power of Fashion at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm. At over thirty minutes, it’s long by Internet video standards, and silent, yet riveting for those interested in historic fashion. It depicts a man and a woman getting dressed in eighteenth-century clothing, the woman dressing twice in accordance with differing social classes, from chemise to cap.
MOMU3 X BULO by Frederik Heyman and Wout Bosschaert
MoMu Antwerp collaborated with fashion photographer Frederik Heyman and graphic artist Wout Bosschaert, utilizing 3D scans of garments in the museum’s collection to give new perspective and “digital life” to the objects.
Work in Process: Machine Knitting
The RISD Museum captures the process for creating stripes on a mid-twentieth century Brother knitting machine. RISD has several of these vintage machines available in the Textiles Department for student use.
Are you a conservator, a curator, a student of fashion? Support your favorite museums by watching and subscribing to the channels listed below.
Kent State University Museum on YouTube
Metropolitan Museum of Art on YouTube
ModeMuseum Antwerp on Vimeo
Museum of Fine Arts Boston on YouTube
Nordic Museum on YouTube
RISD Museum on YouTube
Textile Museum of Canada on YouTube
The Museum at FIT on YouTube
Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo
Victoria and Albert Museum on YouTube
Weald and Downland Museum on YouTube
Last month, Renzo Rosso of unconventional fashion brand conglomerate Only the Brave confirmed the appointment of John Galliano as creative director of Margiela Haute Couture. Galliano has kept a low profile since his dismissal from Dior and his eponymous label in 2011 following allegations of verbal abuse and the release of a video in which he makes anti-semitic proclamations. He appeared on Charlie Rose last year, and recently assisted as a “designer in residence” for one of the late Oscar de la Renta’s final collections in fall 2013.
OTB CEO Stefano Rosso told an audience at last week’s WWD Apparel and Retail CEO Summit that the group recognizes Galliano for his talent and does not judge him on the past. Galliano has the support of the Anti-Defamation League and of Jewish Parisian fashion industry figure, Armand Hadida, who said Galliano knew his mistakes and corrected them.
Vogue.com published Why Fashion Needs John Galliano, citing his “indisputable talent” and lamenting the “waste” of excluding him from fashion weeks. Maison Margiela Artisanal was granted Couture status in 2012. The Margiela lines have been designed for years by a mysterious in-house team; Galliano is the first known creative director at the brand since Martin Margiela left in 2008.
The two videos below feature fashion critics Alexander Fury and Tim Blanks, respectively.
Click the thumbnail below to watch Fury’s interview at Byronesque.com.
Fury is the fashion editor at The Independent. He recalls Galliano’s Fall 1994 show, one of the first in Paris. Galliano ran out of money and was rescued last-minute by Anna Wintour. Most looks in the collection were made from the same black silk fabric. “This show’s so important . . . it revived for the Nineties the use of bias cutting . . . it proved to be incredibly influential and was copied by everybody. It also triggered a trend amongst other Parisian designers to start showing their own collections away from the central Louvre show ground.” You can watch the full 1994 fashion show here.
Tim Blanks is Style.com’s Editor-at-Large. He names Galliano’s opulent Spring 1998 Dior Couture show at the Palais Garnier opera house as his “favorite fashion show ever. When you look up ‘fashion show’ in the dictionary, this is the show that should be there.”
The reverence for Galliano’s craft is undeniable and, coming from industry experts who have attended countless runway shows, has not been diminished by the controversy of the past few years.
Is creative genius sufficient reason to forgive Galliano’s bigotry? Will you anticipate his first Couture collection for Margiela? Let us know in the comments.
Michelle Obama’s time as First Lady of the United States has been characterized by several worthy initiatives, such as Let’s Move! which strives to eliminate childhood obesity in a generation, and encouraging students to continue their education past high school through Reach Higher. In addition to her important work, there is one topic that never fails to get Mrs. Obama media coverage: her fashion choices. Mrs. Obama is not unique in this way, as First Lady fashion has been a subject of public interest since Lady Washington. This week’s YSBW presents several videos including news segments and lectures focusing on America’s First Ladies and Fashion.
Our first video is part of an MSNBC segment that discusses the late Oscar de la Renta’s connection to First Lady fashion. This clip focuses on Michelle Obama under the public gaze, and how her clothing choices are interpreted into ideas about femininity and standards of sartorial appropriateness for the role of First Lady.
On September 30, the National Archives and White House Historical Association hosted a panel that discussed the fashions of America’s First Ladies beginning with Dolly Madison. The panel features distinguished speakers Tim Gunn, Museum at FIT curator Valerie Steele, Chief Curator of the First Ladies Collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and Fashion Designer Tracy Reese. (The panel discussion begins at about the 10 minute mark.)
Sandy McLendon, design historian and editor of jetsetmodern.com speaks at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on the fashions of Jacqueline Kennedy, and her strategic use of clothing to create an image of herself and John F. Kennedy through his election and Presidency.
Bonus Video: As part of Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, 150 students and high-profile members of the fashion industry were brought together at the White House on October 8 for a luncheon and Fashion Education Workshop. The video contains Mrs. Obama’s address followed by a panel of advice on succeeding in fashion, featuring Jenna Lyons, Diane von Furstenberg, Prabal Gurung, Jason Wu, Tracy Reese, and Edward Wilkerson.
It’s September, which means back to school! There hasn’t been a single year when I am not completely preoccupied by what to wear on the first day of class. Crafting and presenting my socio-intellectual-professional identity becomes a full-time project from the end of August until the start of term. Taking the time to equip myself sartorially was always a helpful way to manage the uncertainty and anxiety of unknown classes, unfamiliar teachers and unforeseen changes amongst friends last seen before the summer break. As an adult, working out what to wear at this time helps me to get in the mood for teaching, moving away from the breezy feel of holidays towards a more disciplined aura manifest in the lace up shoes, sombre tones and heavy fabrics of my September wardrobe.
Yet, preparing to return to our studies means brushing up on our books as well as our winter warms. So, to get ready for this academic year, I wanted to highlight my top five online fashion/textile/clothing resources that any budding scholar or thinker could add to their academic outfit and we don’t already feature here on Worn Through.
First up is the Fashion Research Network, a collaborative project developed by PhD students from the Royal College of Art and the Courtauld Institute of Art and set up in 2013 “in response to their own experiences of navigating the networks already open to fashion researchers.” Not only does the website promote early career researchers but it is one of the few websites that attempts to bring all the various strands of fashion research together into one space, where conferences and courses can be browsed simultaneously.
Second up is the University of Brighton’s listings of dress collections in museums put together by Prof Lou Taylor and Dr Charlotte Nicklas in July 2011. This comprehensive list offers fashion researchers a wealth of information concerning dress/textile collections in the South, South East and South West of England.
In third place is the Vintage Fashion Guild ‘s Label Resource, which enables those with an interest in history and clothes to begin tracing the retail lineage of loved garments through their labels. Although this resource is aimed at vintage buyers and sellers, the information provided is fascinating for anyone who has ever wanted to know more about the story of their worn clothes.
Taking fourth position is Behind the Seams, Vice Magazine’s collection of fashion and dress documentaries. Online access to interesting leftfield films about apparel, particularly from a global perspective, is not easy which is why this site is so valuable. I only wish that films were added more frequently, thereby building upon this unique archive.
A still from Bulletproof Fashion, a Behind the Seams film about Bogata’s tailoring industry which specialises in protective clothing for bodyguards and UN officials
My last choice is Documenting Fashion, a dress history blog set up by Rebecca Arnold, Oak Foundation Lecturer in History of Dress and Textiles, and students studying textiles and dress at the Courtald Institute of Art in London in 2013. This collective approach to writing about dress and fashion provides a good model of academic research whereby both student and teacher’s interests inform one another’s work within a public information forum.
If you know of any other online resources that you would like to share with our community, please do let us know via the comments below. Alternatively, if you have an idea for something that does not currently exist, we would love to hear from you!
(Top image is a collage by Alexis Romano taken from the Documenting Fashion website)
The exponentially-growing Chinese market for Western luxury goods has changed the way that these items are sold, and fashion is no exception. This week’s YSBW presents news stories from the past year that discuss the shifts that many luxury fashion companies have made to attract Chinese customers as well as the challenges they have faced in their endeavors. This is a rich, ever-evolving topic, and a great place for more information is regular Business of Fashion column “The China Edit.”
I was unable to get this video to properly embed, but here is a great segment from CNN Money on the efforts of French and English luxury brands to woo Chinese customers.
Bonus article: One of the challenges French luxury companies are facing is the targeting of Chinese luxury tourists in Paris. It has gotten so bad that the Paris law enforcement called in Chinese police officers to help curb the thefts during the peak summer tourist season! More here and here.
In honor of the Spring 2015 Men’s Fashion shows, I chose to feature videos discussing what many consider the quintessential male garment: the suit. Specifically, these videos focus on the difference between the bespoke suit, a handmade garment (or mostly handmade) with each detail custom selected by its intended wearer, and the ready-to-wear suit. These films visit bespoke tailors of London’s famous Savile Row and touch upon the profession’s past, present and future, the bespoke customer, and the many options that are available to personalize these deceptively complex garments.
Menswear writer Eric Musgrave offers a history of the suit in the first video, followed by the BBC special “The Perfect Suit,” which visits custom Savile Row tailors as well as fast fashion vendors and discusses not only the aesthetics and craftsmanship of suits, but also their cultural significance. (This video may be found in four parts in YouTube.) The final video features bespoke tailoring firm Henry Poole and Co., in business since 1806, and discusses the company’s history and the unique demand for custom suiting.
Bonus Video: Master Tailor John Kent of bespoke firm Kent, Haste and Lachter shows the foundations and methods used to create custom suiting.
Eric Musgrave, Sharp Suits: 150 years of men’s tailoring from WSA Global Futures on Vimeo.
By now I’m sure that everyone in the world has heard about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s current costume exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion, regardless of whether or not one is familiar with the man or his work. The exhibit has resulted in a second life for Charles James as seen in an enormous amount of press, Zac Posen’s stunning couture Met Gala creations, and even the relaunch of the Charles James brand by Harvey Weinstein, Georgina Chapman and Edward Chapman of Marchesa. For those who are unable to view the show in person, I have compiled a selection of videos featuring exhibition highlights, as well as the architectural angle from which curators Harold Koda and Jan Glier Reeder approached James’ work.
I have also included a video that revisits the Chicago History Museum’s 2011 exhibit, Charles James: Genius Deconstructed, a groundbreaking show that focused on James’ unique methods of construction through its use of CT scans and touchable muslin models created by the museum.
As you may have heard, April 24 marked the one year anniversary of the disaster at Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh, when a factory complex collapsed, killing over 1,000 garment workers and injuring over 2,500. In remembrance of this tragic event, fashion industry leaders as well as interested parties outside the fashion world have dubbed April 24th Fashion Revolution Day, a day for consumers to take a moment and ask themselves “who made my clothes?” This effort is a call-to-action, encouraging people to be more aware of the human impact that clothing manufacturing has on the world and promoting the support of companies that produce clothing in an ethical way.
In honor of the mission behind Fashion Revolution Day, I would like to present two videos that have been created to inform the world about the conditions of garment workers in Bangladesh, and discussing the state of the industry in this country one year after the Rana Plaza disaster.
The Shirt On Your Back is an interactive documentary produced by the Guardian that provides insight into the experience of garment workers who worked in the Rana Plaza factory complex, working conditions, and economic factors that pertain to the manufacture of clothing. The documentary mixes video footage, graphics, and text, and puts a face to garment workers through powerful interviews.
Tears in the Fabric is a recently-released, 30 minute documentary and web platform produced by the organizations Rainbow Collective and Openvizor to raise awareness about the people effected by the Rana Plaza disaster. The film focuses on Razia, and her life following the factory collapse. The project aims to educate consumers on “the human cost of high street fashion.”
Bonus Video: An interview with American Apparel founder and CEO Dov Charney on ethical clothing manufacturing practices and his call-to-action for responsible consumerism.
Bonus Article: “Rana Plaza Factory Collapse Survivors Struggle One Year On”; BBC News tells the stories of four garment workers who were rescued from the collapsed factory, and reports how they are doing one year later.