Caught on Film: Preventing Garment Factory Fire

In this Youtube video clip produced by Democracy Now, Charlie Kernaghan from the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights discusses organizing labor unions as a way to prevent deadly garment factory disasters like the building collapse and fire on April 24 at Rana Plaza in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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Caught on Film: Conservation of an 8th Century Egyptian Tunic

In this video, a textile conservator from the V&A Museum shares her work on an 8th century Egyptian tunic. Enjoy!

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Caught on Film: Easter Bonnets

Enjoy this 1950′s newsreel about Easter bonnet fashions!

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Caught on Film: Jewelled Stockings

This 1955 clip from the British Pathe Fashion Archive demonstrates how to create jewelled stockings- enjoy!

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Caught on Film: Laser Sintering

This Youtube video by MaterialiseGroup shows the flexible 3D-printing process of “Laser Sintering” used by designer Iris Van Herpen, in collaboration with the architect Julia Koerner and Materialise, to create a dress for her 2013 Haute Couture Collection ‘Voltage’. Enjoy!

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Global Mode: Tsuke Yaeba

Tsuke yaeba, or snaggleteeth, are coveted enough in Japan that a girl group was formed around the aesthetic trend in April 2012, scouted in a dentistry office that specializes in creating the “fangs” or protruding canines. Some dental offices are even offering tween and preteen girls discounts on the procedures, which can cost more than $400.

Nana, Mio, and Rika of the “snaggletooth” girl group TYB48, 2012. One of their first singles was, “Mind if I Bite?”

Snaggleteeth are usually defined as crooked teeth, and in the case of yaeba refer alternatively to prominent canines or “fangs.” Kirsten Dunst has been extensively investigated by tabloids for her supposed snaggleteeth, although her dental anomalies are much less obvious than those of the TYB48 girls, for example.

The dental procedure undergone by so many Japanese women is not as dramatic as many media make it sound; it’s often just a cap that gives the appearance of crowded baby teeth, a common cause of snaggleteeth.

In Japan, women who have (or buy) yaeba are considered slightly homelier than women with straight teeth, which is a good thing: it makes them more approachable–and subsequently much less homely. Often seen as a flaw in the West, prominent canine teeth have become an attractive trait to some Japanese men. Yaeba are now often associated with cuteness, or kawaii, a well-documented visual trend and sexual preference in Japan and around the world. As with the girls of TYB48, tsuke yaeba are often accompanied by cute, childlike clothing, such as a schoolgirl uniforms.

Photo from Elite Nights’ Tumbler (http://elite-knights.tumblr.com/), with the caption, “Doing yaeba right.” Photo: uncredited.

Many commentators harp on the relativity of beauty, the sacrifice (monetary and aesthetic) of these young women in their search for mates, and the sexualization of young girls. In a resounding and unsurprising lack of cultural relativism or understanding, websites like the UK Daily Mail Online offered headlines such as, “Japanese cosmetic trend for ‘sexy’ child-like look fuels demand for CROOKED teeth.”  Perhaps this is a response to the wealth of comments substituting one insensitivity for another and comparing Japanese yaeba converts with the British, often lambasted for their apparent dental imperfections.

Is the trend for tsuke yaeba troubling for its connections with sexualizing a child-like appearance? Or is it just another easy target? Is it a step forward (or at least away) from our global obsession with a perceived perfection? What other procedures do you know of that remove, alter, or denigrate a socially attractive feature of the body in order to make a person more approachable (see: Tyra Banks advising widening a gap tooth)? 

If it were a different part of the body, or more surgically invasive, would you feel differently? Where is the line of so-called “sacrifice” drawn? Does this belong on the spectrum of body modification, or can this be compared to our American/Western interest in plastic surgery? What is the difference?

Let us know what you think below!

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Caught on Film: Collecting Turkmen Jewelry

In this Youtube video posted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf discuss their collection of Turkmen jewelry, on display at the Met until February 24:

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Global Mode: Paris in Pants

You have probably heard by now that French women are finally legally allowed to wear pants. Anyone who has been to Paris (or seen Funny Face, pictures of sixties pinups, The Sartorialist, etc) can tell you that trousers on French women are an inspiring and common sight. However, the 214-year-old law was still on the books until a few days ago, theoretically requiring women to ask local police for permission to wear trousers.

New York Times Paris correspondent Elaine Sciolino told NPR that the law, which was amended in 1892 and 1909 to allow for women riding horses or bicycles to wear pants, was finally eliminated by the new Socialist government led by François Hollande.

Significantly, Sciolino notes that wearing pants can improve French women’s chances of avoiding sexual assault, as they are apparently susceptible to more unwanted advances than, say, we American females. It also takes gender equality one step further, if only symbolically, and hopefully will ease the minds of women’s rights groups that have been lobbying to change the law for decades.

Is this news? The tone of many news organizations has been a sort of smirking incredulity that it “took so long” and reassurances that female tourists no longer have to “fear arrest.” The idea of women’s pants as a marker of gender equality (although a flawed association) is apparently so widespread as to make a ban on them comical. But even in 1972 women were being turned away from certain establishments for wearing trousers.

Is the symbolic lifting of this ban meaningful to you? Would you feel differently if a woman had been arrested for wearing pants recently? How are European attitudes toward gendered dressing different from those in America?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave comments below!

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Video Post: Keep Warm with Pringle of Scotland

Happy Holidays! Hope this 1953 Pathé Fashion Reel for Pringle of Scotland helps keep you warm.

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Caught on Film: Making the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Tutu

In this 2010 Youtube video, the Resident Cutter of the National Ballet of Canada’s Wardrobe Department, Ruth Bartel, explains the process of making the Sugar Plum Fairy’s tutu for a performance of The Nutcracker. Enjoy, and happy holidays!

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