Museum Life: On the Road

Museum Life is on the road this month and thought I would share with you a few of my museum-related meanderings throughout Western Germany and Eastern France, some of which are generally off the usual, big-city museum destination path for tourists in these two countries.

First is a wonderful and imaginatively displayed archeological collection in Freiburg, housed in a mid-19th century Gothic revival mansion, the Colombischlössle Archeological Museum.

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Although all museum labels and brochure guides were in German and therefore largely unknowable to me (unfortunately my knowledge of the German language is limited to a few salutations and food items), the clear and concise layout and display of items made the overall narrative easy to follow for a non-speaker/reader.

Included in the artifacts that help to tell the stories of the life and times of ancient and medieval peoples of the area now known as Freiburg are textiles and other items of adornment and grooming. Throughout the museum, various pieces were mounted on simplified illustrations or silhouettes of human bodies, depending upon the context, making the placement and use of the fragment or complete object immediately evident.

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In addition to display in the vitrines, reproductions of objects were often available for visitors to touch or handle (such as chain mail, seen below).

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When a garment was not extant, the sense of touch was again utilized to evoke a sense of the garments and what they may have felt like worn against the skin.

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Ancient belts “completed” with acrylic mounts.

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One of the most interesting objects (my apologies for the somewhat blurry photo) is a reproduction of a prop arrow, used in theatrical productions to simulate an arrow piercing the body, worn with the band encircling the side of the torso turned away from the audience.

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In Strasbourg, one of the most arresting paintings at the Musée des Beaux Arts at the Palais Rohan was La Belle Strasbourgeoise (1703) by prolific portrait painter Nicolas de Largillière. The undeniable focal point of the portrait is the young woman’s extraordinary headgear. Although the accompanying label states that the sitter is wearing dress typical for aristocratic young women in the city between 1688 and 1730, it also notes the peculiarity of this particular hat. A brief biography of de Largillière notes that he was the son of a hat merchant; one cannot help but wonder if he was attracted to paint the portrait as it appears not only due to the station and beauty of the sitter but also because of the attraction to her fantastical headgear.

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The masterful detailed rendering of the delicate lace sleeves is quite extraordinary:

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Looking at this dramatic hat, I couldn’t help but recall the shape of Christian Dior’s classic sloped brim hat from the New Look collection, on a more modest scale, of course (seen here on the far right at the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2013 exhibition, Dior and Yamamoto: The New Look).

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Finally, the city of Nancy is a treasure trove of Art Nouveau architecture and art, as practiced by the artists of L’École de Nancy. One place I was very eager to visit was the Musée de l’École de Nancy, which is the former residence of École de Nancy patron and collector, Jean-Baptiste Eugène Corbin. Like William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, this group of Art Nouveau practitioners in Nancy believed in creating a complete environment and dissolving the hierarchies between fine arts and decorative art, and learning the skills and production of different media from furniture to glassware to ceramics to textiles. Art Nouveau style was all curves and highly dramatic, sinuous sensuality—very few if any straight lines to be seen here–inspired directly from the flora and fauna of the natural world. Visitors are free to wander the rooms of the first two stories, with some seeming to remain largely unchanged from the time of installation, while others were most likely reconfigured at a later date.

Salle à manger Musée de l’École de Nancy

Salle à manger
Musée de l’École de Nancy

Textile-based pieces were integral to the vision of this group of artists, and there were several on view at the Musée de l’École de Nancy, including two impressive wall hangings.

Les Ombelles, by Charles Fridrich, ca. 1900, velour and leather appliqué

Les Ombelles, by Charles Fridrich, ca. 1900, velour and leather appliqué

La Nymphe, attributed to Louis Guingot

La Nymphe, attributed to Louis Guingot

A standing embroidery frame (ca. 1902) was designed by Emile André, which held an embroidery of leaves created by his wife (there was no full name on the label, only “Mme André” referenced) after a design found in Die Quelle.

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Gorgeous embroidered textiles incorporated into furniture upholstery were, in my opinion, most beautifully realized in the Salon aux Ombelles (1901) by Camille Gauthier and Auguste Poinsignon, with a chair, winged bench, and a settee displaying the theme (les ombelles, or umbels, were a recurring motif throughout the house).

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Inspiration was close at hand with the lovely two-tiered gardens outside, completely restored in 1998.

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Overall, this museum was an immersive and highly enjoyable experience.

All photos provided by the author.

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CFP: The Art of Disguise

Costume Society of America Southeastern Region 2015 Annual Meeting and Symposium
Old Salem Visitor Center (Winston-Salem, NC)

Call for Papers: The Art of Disgusie

Proposals due: August 1, 2015

CSA’s Southeastern Region invites research focusing on disguise – its history, its use in both entertainment and serious applications, and its world-wide use in celebrations. Abstracts are to be no longer than 350 words. Please include a separate cover page listing title, author, address, phone number, and email address. Submit all abstracts for paper presentations and research exhibits to Nancy Hodges.

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Final call for Interns 2015-16

We will be seeking two new interns for the 2015-16 academic year.

There is no pay, however, we can help you get college credit if needed and of course it’s great networking and experience. We need help with CFPs, some column research, a bit of behind the scenes blog details, and running our book giveaways (among other projects as they emerge). Also you’re instrumental in our social networking such as running Twitter.

Interns in the past have done an array of research and writing projects.

The work can be done spread out over time or in chunks as your time allows. It’s all remote. Preferable candidates are current college or graduate students or recent graduates in apparel studies with a focus on academia or museums or closely related.

Email Monica with your CV and a brief cover letter. Ideal due date July 15 however open until filled.

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You Should Be Reading (and Watching): Fashion, Masculinity and the Dandy

I must apologize for last week’s absence of a You Should Be Watching column, as I found myself without internet access and unable to contribute a post. In return, this week I offer a super-sized column encompassing both film and text on fashion, masculinity and the well-dressed man. From Beau Brummel to the members of Roxy Music and today’s modern incarnations, the following videos and articles provide an introduction to the iconic persona of the Dandy.

1. Kate Irvin and Laurie Anne Brewer. ‘Fabricating a Dream: The Dandy’s Silhouette.’ The Bard Graduate Center, New York. May 21, 2015.

Drawing from their publication Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion (Yale University Press, 2013), Kate Irvin and Laurie Brewer will discuss the sometimes extreme physical transformations evident in the dandy’s silhouette. The fashion practices of this iconic character will be analyzed through caricatures dating to the age of Beau Brummel, the quintessential dandy, and an examination of the artful modification of the male body at the hand of the tailor. In laying bare the secrets of the dandy aesthetic, the authors will present a figure who employed profound imagination in his appearance as he forged a unique path to self-discovery and self-expression. – Full Video Summary

2. ‘A Suitable Wardrobe Visits Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion.‘ Rhode Island School of Design. May 30, 2013.

A short video exploring the Artist/Rebel/Dandy exhibition at the Rhode Island School of Design, produced by Andrew Yamato for A Suitable Wardrobe. Artist/Rebel/Dandy documents the enduring, global impact of the dandy—that distinctively dressed figure who has pervaded Western culture for more than two centuries. From Beau Brummell in the late 18th century to the international style-makers of today, this character epitomizes the powerful bond between clothing, identity, and creativity. Garbed with great intention and at least a hint of provocation, the dandy is forward-thinking, conscientious, and thoroughly artistic. – Excerpt from Exhibition Summary

3. ‘Am I Dandy?’ The Doc Challenge. April 14, 2014.

Nathaniel Adams, co-author of the book I am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman, discusses the cultural history of dandyism, gives a tour of his personal wardrobe, and examines the way the theatrics of fashion relate to a person’s inner character. – Full Video Summary

4. Robyne Erica Calvert. ‘Manly Modes: Artistic Dress and the Styling of Masculine Identity.’ Visual Culture in Britain (16:2, 2015) 223-242.

From roughly the mid-nineteenth century, Artistic Dress was an alternative sartorial style adopted by both men and women who wished to communicate their identification with artistic practices and philosophies that often ran counter to the status quo. For women, this style was expressed through a less structured look and cut of garment, resulting in a radical departure from the mainstream Victorian silhouette. For men, however, Artistic Dress usually took a subtler form. Looking at specific examples, this article examines the ways in which male artists managed to walk the margins of masculine sartorial conformity by wearing mainstream clothing with styling techniques that suggested hints of ‘artisticness’. – Full Article Abstract

5. Erin Mackie. ‘Libertine Fiction, Forensic Fashion, and the Dandy’s Development in Edward Bulwer’s Pelham. Eighteenth Century Fiction (27:2, 2014).

Edward Bulwer’s Pelham (1828) is best known as a “silver fork” or “fashionable novel” and as the source of the Dandy’s Maxims, which Thomas Carlyle addresses in Sartor Resartus(1833–34; 1836). As such, Bulwer’s novel is understood as a specimen of elitist, formula fiction centred on a vapid, if amusing, dandy hero. Opening with an epigraph from George Etherege’s The Man of Mode (1676), Pelham orients itself through allusion and intertextuality to the satiric libertine past of the Restoration and eighteenth century even as it develops, through the established Regency form of silver fork fiction, the emerging forms of the Bildungsroman and the detective story. Approaching Pelham as a “libertine fiction,” we acknowledge its relation to the eighteenth century and develop a fuller appreciation of its generic identity. Pelham’s licentiousness, its freedom from rules, defines what is most novelistic in this truly experimental fiction. – Full Article Abstract

6. Jon Hackett. ‘Art, Artifice and Androgyny: Roxy Music’s Dandy Modernsim.’ Clothing Cultures (2:2, 2015) 167-178.

This article considers glam rock’s rejection of the humdrum, spontaneity and the ‘natural’, and its embrace of costuming, camp and artificiality. With particular reference to Roxy Music, it will examine the band’s iconography, fashion and contexts during glam’s golden years – 1972 to 1974 – as well as the implications of glam style for gender and sexuality in popular music. Though some of glam’s exponents were undoubtedly much more traditional in their performance of gender identities, we can read bands like Roxy Music, within certain limits, as ‘queering’ their more meat-and-potatoes predecessors and providing an important source of identification for later pop music gender and style dissidents. The fashion and music scenes in which Roxy Music emerged are inseparable from the milieux of experimentation and innovation associated with British art and fashion schools in the 1960s onwards. To this extent, the band exemplifies the vital pathway of art school students into popular music outlined by Simon Frith and Howard Horne in Art into Pop. Through Keir Keightley’s conception of romantic and modernist authenticity in popular music and Joanne Entwhistle’s genealogy of the romantic and the dandy in fashion, we will explore how glam traces a line from the dandy via New Edwardian fashion, in which questions of gender and artifice are in a process of perpetual renegotiation. – Full Article Abstract

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Fashion-Focused Digital Resources: North American Women’s Letters and Diaries

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I find myself returning North American Women’s Letters and Diaries (NAWLD) repeatedly when seeking firsthand observations and descriptions of historic dress. The database is only available to educational institutions, but many libraries provide access to it as part of a package with other Alexander Street Press databases, and free trials are available to librarians and faculty members. The vendor describes it as “the largest electronic collection of women’s diaries and correspondence ever assembled. Spanning more than 300 years, it presents the personal experiences of hundreds of women . . . the writings provide a detailed record of what women wore, what they ate, what they read, the conditions under which they worked, and how they amused themselves.”

Users can browse or search by a wide rage of fields specific to the content, such as Age When Writing, Where Written, When Written, Historical Events mentioned, etc.

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The scope of coverage is 1675 to 1950, and simple keyword searches reveal the frequency with which women recorded information about the clothes they wore and their activities relating to sewing and craft. Over 5,000 documents mention “dress,” and over 2,000 provide accounts of needlework. When attempting to determine the origin of the “tea gown,” I found a range of diaries and letters providing context to the term and, in some case, describing fabric, cut, and trimming. In 1892, 29 year-old Josephine Peary hosted guests for an evening at her home. “At 9 P. M. I dressed myself in a black silk tea-gown with canary silk front, covered and trimmed with black lace, cut square in the neck and filled in with lace, and having lace sleeves,” she wrote. “[My guests] all looked especially nice and very much civilized, most of them actually sending in their cards. They were all dressed in ‘store clothes,’ although one or two clung to their kamiks.”

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If you find one diary that interests you in particular, I recommend reviewing the database’s source information for that diary entry or letter, and tracking down physical copies. In some cases, the documents in NAWLD are samples of a larger collection of personal papers housed at libraries or archives. And finally, since transcriptions are no substitute for seeing handwritten words on yellowed paper (and getting used to reading cursive again), make sure to check out scanned documents in the showcase.

You can learn more about North American Women’s Letters and Diaries via Alexander Street Press. This vendor also offers a Social and Cultural History package which includes Black Thought and Culture, British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries, American Civil War Letters and Diaries, and more.

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Review: Cornelia Parker’s Magna Carta (An Embroidery)

I don’t usually do reviews back to back but it was impossible to ignore Cornelia Parker’s Magna Carta (An Embroidery) at the British Library, given that she is a brilliant artist and that this latest artwork involves textiles in a staggering way.  Arguably, this is not specifically about apparel but it is about thread and cloth, materials at the heart of most dress and adornment.

Walking through the British Library in central London, it would be easy to miss Cornelia Parker’s artwork. With its staggered public areas and labyrinth reading rooms, a visitor to the British Library must navigate him/herself through a three dimensional Escher painting. As a result, Parker’s contribution to the British Library’s 800th birthday of the Magna Carta is not instantly accessible. However, finding it is like discovering treasure; overwhelmingly beautiful, dazzlingly ingenious and unbeknown to most others.

A view of the entire 13 metres encased in glass, from the bottom of the Wikipedia entry

I am a huge fan of textiles as an art medium so it was no surprise to find myself drooling over Parker’s huge piece of embroidered panama cotton, almost 13 metres in length and 1.5 metres in width, which is an enlarged facsimile of the Wikipedia entry on the Magna Carta, as it appeared last year on its 799th birthday.  Made up of 87 panels stitched together, the artwork is encased in glass that covers the entire length and includes mirrors below so it is possible to see the back of the textile and the stitches.

A close up of the embroidered text

The embroidery has been done by over 2oo people, whom can be roughly organised into three groups of embroiderersThe first are a small group of inmates involved with the social enterprise Fine Cell Work, which trains them in paid creative needlework, and whom produced most of the text in the artwork.  In addition, Parker invited a range of people connected to the law and civil liberties to contribute certain words. This second group, around 160 people, consists of lawyers, judges, civil rights campaigners, artists and writers for whom embroidery is probably not something they do everyday.

Anthea stitching a small section of the Magna Carta (An Embroidery)

The third and final group was responsible for all the illustrative elements, which include logos, emblems and images that make up the virtual Wikipedia entry.  These were done by embroiderers from the Royal School of Needlework, the embroidery company Hand & Lock and members of the Embroiderers’ Guild.  According to the short video that accompanies the artwork in the exhibition, one of the images took the lady 450 hours to complete.  The quality of these reproductions is breathtaking and it is difficult not to be in awe of all their hands, as well as those of Fine Cell Work that went into creating the bulk of this fascinating artwork.

Another close up of the embroidered image representing the ‘Monarchy’ section

Parker’s idea to reproduce a Wikipedia page with a range of contributors is simultaneously clever and simple.  It takes an everyday virtual object that relies on a community of contributors and recreates it as a three dimensional haptic object, using a similiar mode of production.  As Jonathan Jones, art critic for The Guardian, points out, Wikipedia is arguably a virtual, ever changing product of our time yet in Parker’s work, a small part of it has been made to stand outside of its own timescale, immortalised in the process.

A detail from Elizabeth Wardle’s Bayeau Tapestry replica

In the accompanying text to the exhibit, Parker draws attention to the communal activity of embroidery, particularly in the case of the Bayeux Tapestry, which this artwork definitely draws parallels with.  However, I was also quite struck by how similiar Parker’s idea is to the Victorian reproduction of the Bayeux Tapestry on display in Reading.  In 1886, instigated by a successful industrialist’s wife, a group of women embroidered an ‘English’ version of the historical document in just over a yearYet, while their replica was of a medieval artefact, Parker’s replica is of a contemporary artefact whose very nature is both transient and ephemeral.

Jarvis Cocker and Cornelia Parker looking for his contribution of ‘common people’

Viewing the artwork, one activity I found interesting was identifying different contributions.  It is not possible to do this from the exhibit alone.  It has to be done through detective work, cross referencing various sources including text as well as moving and still images.  I only just managed to find Jarvis Cocker’s embroidered ‘common people’ by matching an image of him looking at the installed artwork with Parker with the actual exhibition space.  Reading the reviews, I discovered that drops of blood could help discern a particular contributor and also reminded me that embroidery is not without its risks. This is nicely mirrored in the fact that several contributors to the artwork have risked much to draw our attention to global infringements of civil liberties.

Detail of the Wikipedia logo, which is beautifully rendered in needlework

A recent article in the Journal of Modern Craft raised the question of whether Parker’s artwork could have been printed and still achieved the same outcome. The author suggested that the handstitching drew upon historical connections between needlework and political suffrage.  This is clearly present in the artwork but I also think if it had been printed, the speed of the reproduction would have reduced the overall visual and conceptual impact.  To print out a Wikipedia entry would be too easy and too similiar to the original.  By having it entirely recreated with thread and fabric, the labour of reproduction becomes a vital element that reminds us about the current emphasis on speed of information, production and consumption, arguably at the expense of debate, discussion and democracy.

Cornelia Parker’s Magna Carta (An Embroidery) is on display at the British Library until Friday 24th July and is free to the public.

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Punk Style in your Library or Classroom?

It’s early July but of course my brain is already thinking toward Fall (typical of an academic person, can’t just chill over the summer!)

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I’m starting to research the reach of my book Punk Style (2014, Bloomsbury), and try to expand its readership. So far it is in quite a few libraries and has been used in classes as well. Contributors to Worn Through have written posts on the challenges of academic publishing, and one of those is distribution/PR. Basically, the author needs to be quite active in getting things done yourself.

So, I am asking you, Worn Through readers, to help me out a bit. If you are a part of an institution such as a university or museum with a library/research collection, can you please check the catalog and see if Punk Style is included? If not, consider ordering it for your collection, or drop me a line and I can arrange things. It comes in hardcover, softcover, and e-book.

Also, if you are teaching a course that is related to cultural aspects of apparel, including popular culture, production and consumption, identity and nonverbal communication, authenticity, the fashion cycle, and 20th-21stc history, it may be a good fit! I can send you information on getting examination copies for your classroom.

Here is Bloomsbury’s blurb on the book to give you an idea of its content:

    Punk Style examines the dress of this incredibly diverse, long-lasting and hugely influential subculture and its impact on mainstream fashion. Taking a comprehensive approach, the book includes a historical overview, a discussion of motivations behind dress practices, and a review of fashion cycles and merchandising methods.

    Punk is frequently positioned as a forerunner of trends that later become commonplace, as demonstrated in the proliferation and acceptance of body modification, the repeated use of deconstruction as a design aesthetic, and the recent boom in fashion that reflects DIY style through handmade crafts. The book explores how this dominant subcultural style continues to expand via the internet, youth buying-power, and the constant re-appropriation of its distinctive styles.

    This accessible text brings the discussion of punk fashion up-to-date and provides a concise overview for students and scholars and general readers interested in the punk subculture.

Thank you!!!

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New Interns Needed 2015-16

We will be seeking two new interns for the 2015-16 academic year.

There is no pay, however, we can help you get college credit if needed and of course it’s great networking and experience. We need help with CFPs, some column research, a bit of behind the scenes blog details, and running our book giveaways (among other projects as they emerge). Also you’re instrumental in our social networking such as running Twitter.

Interns in the past have done an array of research and writing projects.

The work can be done spread out over time or in chunks as your time allows. It’s all remote. Preferable candidates are current college or graduate students or recent graduates in apparel studies with a focus on academia or museums or closely related.

Email Monica with your CV and a brief cover letter. Ideal due date July 15 however open until filled.

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Parisian Insights: Yves Saint Laurent 1971 – The Scandal Collection

It’s always intriguing to observe past scandals when our contemporary eyes have become accustomed to much more outrageous! The Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent has decided to look back into its archives to propose an exhibition dedicated to the French designer’s Spring/Summer 1971 “Libération” or “Forties” Haute Couture collection. At the time, the show had instantly caused much discussion and shock as the six models had nonchalantly and insolently presented the 84 outfits inspired by the war years and in particular, the style of women living in an occupied Paris.  ‘It is with the arms of elegance and fashion, perfect manners, a cold kindness that the French woman has resisted’, had written Curzio Malaparte, in 1947, yet to 1970s commentators, the allusion was this time described under the terms ‘hideous’ or ‘tragic reference to the nazi years’.

Jacket and Trousers. Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent

Jacket and Trousers. Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent

Thus short fluid dresses, Platform shoes, square shoulders, turbans, tight waists and exaggerated make-up were some of the explicit citations Yves Saint Laurent had decided to highlight, influenced by his muse, Paloma Picasso who had promptly adopted a retro look inspired by the glamorous film stars she admired in 1940s productions and that suited better her voluptuous figure rather than the pop androgynous fashions of her time. Indeed, Yves Saint Laurent had not really invented anything, he had simply observed the outfits of his entourage – many Parisian teenagers would then rummage thrift stores to mingle 1920s, 1930s and 1940s pieces of clothing as they tended to evoke the glories of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich as they rediscovered classic films. The French designer had also met Andy Warhol and his Factory within which individuals like Candy Darling had also adopted a nostalgic allure without ever provoking any scandal.

View of the Exhibition

View of the Exhibition

So why did Yves Saint Laurent’s provoke so much controversy? Let’s look back at the period. Cristobal Balenciaga had closed his house in 1968 at a time when France was facing drastic social changes and Gabrielle Chanel had died three weeks before Yves Saint Laurent’s show. The young designer’s presentation resonated with the end of a certain aristocracy of couture and it seemed as though, by creating that infamous collection, he was letting go of the heavy burden his mentors had left him and had refused to be considered haute couture’s prodigious child. Rejecting classicism and conventions, Yves Saint Laurent also refused the futuristic aesthetic proposed by such designers as Pierre Cardin or André Courrèges. To him, innovation laid in the past and the revival of a dramatic glamorous and sexualized allure. Thus, although the reference to World War II and occupied France was brutal and considered disrespectful to many clients and journalists that had experienced the moment, it appears that the scandal had more to do with Yves Saint Laurent’s new take on haute couture rather than the sole historical evocation. Actually, the inspirations for the show were much more diverse. One can only recognize a hint to Elsa Schiaparelli in the embroidered lips and cigarettes on a velvet coat while evening dresses ressemble Greek classic tunics. Of course, the narrative is more sensual thanks to the audacious transparency, the slits and the erotic prints.

Detain of an evening coat. Photography: Courtesy of Sophie Carré for the Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent

Detain of an evening coat. Photography: Courtesy of Sophie Carré for the Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent

Surely commentators focused on the 1940s references to emphasize their scorn but didn’t the scandal have more to do with his aim to consider a younger generation – a project initiated with the opening of the ready-to-wear Saint Laurent Rive Gauche shop, in 1966 – the mocking of the bourgeoisie and the introduction of an overtly sexy and eccentric silhouette? And most of all, how Yves Saint Laurent audaciously invited, in a highly provocative way for the time, street fashion on couture catwalks? He had declared to the French Elle: ‘What I want? Shock people, force them to think. Haute couture is now only about nostalgia and taboos. Like an old lady. What counts is that young girls that have never known this style, would want to wear it. The others, will obviously want to imitate them afterwards.’ With the help of the (only) 28 models exposed and wall blow ups of all the show’s drawn silhouettes, we can observe how boldly, Yves Saint Laurent had indeed completely repudiated the boundaries that had until then been clearly established between ready-to-wear and haute couture. We read the condemning articles and observe the cutting-edge films proposed by a younger generation that had understood and accepted the designer’s aesthetic. We also identify Francine Crescent’s radical  judgement and how as the editor of Vogue Paris, she was a rare journalist to admire the new style and feature it in the pages of the magazine, through the lens of a certain Helmut Newton: who better would have captured the sulfurous silhouettes and their sensual wearers? 1971 became a shifting year: the collection, a manifesto and the designer, the mediator of a new liberated generation – the same year, Yves Saint Laurent posed nude for Jeanloup Sieff to promote his new perfume. He introduced an aesthetic that now dominates the industry, that of the retro, but also established fashion into the world of marketing and spectacle. And thus contributed to the creation of the sophisticated scandal, the one feared and desired at once, the one that brings the attention on the brand…

 Here Hedi Slimane clearly evokes the archives (a 1971 dress) of the house he now designs for. Remember how scandalous his first collections for Yves Saint Laurent were considered? Nothing new!

Here Hedi Slimane clearly evokes the archives (a 1971 dress) of the house he now designs for. Remember how scandalous his first collections for Yves Saint Laurent were considered? Nothing new!

How ironic to see Yves Saint Laurent become a public enemy just as his mentor, Christian Dior had with his New Look when that now classic style is exactly what the young designer rejected. What are Yves Saint Laurent’s sensual evening dresses compared to Alexander McQueen’s bumsters, Hussein Chalayan provocative burqas or Vivienne Westwood’s revival of the oppressive corset? The French couturier simply initiated what would now become classic: the spectacular show: from Thierry Mugler’s blockbusters to John Galliano’s dramatic yet provocative narratives. How poorly scandalous may Yves Saint Laurent’s arrogant models appear compared to Rick Owens’ naked masculine models or Jean-Paul Gaultier’s antipodean mannequins.

With a very small display, much is said although I must admit I would have loved to be given a greater angle with a better comprehension of the context: a comparison of Yves Saint Laurent’s collection to that of fellow designers of 1971 and also, why not an opening on the greater theme that is the fashion scandal. Nonetheless a bright and pedagogic exhibition worth seeing!

The display is on until 19th July at the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent

Further Resources:

There’s an ideal responding exhibition at the FIT: Yves Saint Laurent + Halston – Fashioning the 70s

And the book: McClendon, Emma and Mears, Patricia. Yves Saint Laurent + Halston Fashioning the 70s. New York: Yale University Press, 2015.

You can have a look at the show here

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CFP: Fashion, Style, Appearance, Consumption and Design

Popular Culture Association & American Culture Association’s (PCA/ACA)

Proposals due: October 1, 2015
Conference held: March 21 – 25, 2016 in Seattle, WA

Fashion, Style, Appearance, Consumption & Design is seeking paper proposals for oral presentation at the annual conference. The conference will be held at the Seattle Sheraton and early reservations are recommended due to room-block maximums. Oral presentations will take place Tuesday through Friday.

Fashion, Style, Appearance, Consumption & Design is concerned with all areas and aspects of style, fashion, clothing, design, and related trends, as well as appearances and consumption using and/or including: historical sources, manufacturing, aesthetics, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, psychological/ sociological aspects of dress, body image, and cultural identities, in addition to any areas relating to purchasing, shopping, and the methods consumers construct identity. Papers from all methods and disciplines are welcome. Innovative and new research, scholarship and creative works in the areas of fashion, design, the body and consumerism are encouraged.

The PCA/ACA is highly regarded in the academy with well over 5,000 academic oral presentations given internationally, two top-tier journals (The Journal of
American Culture and Journal of Popular Culture), and over 3,000 members. Proposals of no more than 250 words must be submitted via the conference site along with a 50-word bio. Multiple submissions are not allowed. Travel grants are available.

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