Museum Life: It’s a bug’s life



With the arrival of spring and warmer weather, the collection manager’s mind often turns to thoughts of….bugs.  Where there’s wool, silk, feathers, and other delectable proteins and other fibers, there’s the potential for bugs. Or at least you do your best to assure there are not. With small staffs and busy schedules, it can be a challenge to work in regular rigorous bug checks.  Oftentimes insect activity can be discovered when an item is retrieved for guest access, display, conservation assessment, or during collection moves or major rehousing projects.

Some relatively easy and affordable preventative measures one can take is raising shelving several inches off the floor (this makes the space easier to monitor and clean, and also makes it harder for insects to get to collection items); monitoring temperature and relative humidity on a weekly basis with a thermohygrometer (some can be had for $100 or less at archival suppliers); and placing extra sticky traps around areas with high-risk items in your storage area (which can also help in tracking what insects may be most active at particular times of the year in your regional area).

One of our book conservators also doubles as our resident insect expert and integrated pest management person, and she has assembled over the years a “bug museum” of specimens and types of damage (see photo above). New student workers or volunteers take a “bug class” with her and can learn firsthand about the visual eating patterns on different kinds of materials, and if the activity is old or recent.

Below is a quick short list of online and offline resources that include preventative measures to help ensure that bugs stay away from your storage area and collection material this spring and summer.

Online resources: 

Printed sources: 


CFP: Fashion: Now & Then: Passé, Presente, 未来

Fashion: Now & Then: Passé, Presente, 未来

Proposal due: June 8, 2015
Conference held: Thursday, October 22, 2015 to Saturday, October 24, 2015
LIM College, New York City

Call for Presentations

The Adrian G. Marcuse Library at LIM College invites participation in the fifth annual Fashion: Now & Then Conference, a three day conference in which participants will discuss the past, present, and future uses of fashion information and the global reach that the fashion industry possess. Participants will be drawn from the fashion industry, libraries, archives, academic institutions, publishers, collectors, and museums to represent a full range of expertise.

The theme for this year’s Fashion: Now & Then Conference is Passé, Presente, 未来. We look forward to proposals that will demonstrate how fashion information and the global reach of the fashion industry has evolved through time and how it will continue to evolve in the future. Proposal topics can include one or more of these subjects in relation to fashion or style: archives, blogs, books, business, collection development, collectors, designer archives, digital archives, digital collections, digitization projects, ephemera, fashion analytics, fashion forecasting, fashion history, fashion studies, film, librarians, libraries, magazines, mapping & data visualization, marketing, material culture, merchandising, museums, new media, oral history, patrons, photography, preservation, print & non-print media, product development, rare books, retail, social media, special collections, street style, textiles, and trend reporting.

Call for Poster Sessions

We invite proposals for an organized poster session for the 5th Annual Fashion: Now & Then: Passé, Presente, 未来 Conference. Organized poster sessions will consist of six posters that are organized around this year’s conference theme with all of the presenters invited by the organizer. Organized poster sessions will be scheduled for Friday, October 23rd from 5:45-6:30 PM.

Presentation Proposals and Notifications

Proposals for presentations should include: the name, title, affiliation, and email address of the author(s) and an abstract of the 15 minute paper or presentations including keywords (<500 words). Email the proposal to Please submit the text of the proposal in the body of the email and as a PDF or Word attachment. The proposal due date is Monday, June 8, 2015.

Notification of proposal and poster session acceptance will occur Monday, June 22, 2015.

At least one author of each accepted abstract must register for the conference and present the paper.

For more information, visit the conference site.


You Should Be Watching: Dior and I

Dior and I is a new documentary film that takes the viewer behind the scenes of a couture collection at the house of Dior. After the dismissal of John Galliano as creative director in 2011, the house named Raf Simons as his replacement. Simons and his team are given the monumental task of putting together a couture collection in just eight weeks.

Director, writer and producer Frédéric Tcheng was there to film the entire process, capturing Simons and his team of seamstresses in both their most impressive and their most vulnerable moments. The result is a fashion documentary that is being hailed as one of the most realistic and honest ever created.

Dior and I: Official Trailer

Dior and I: Clips

Dior and I: Interview: Frédéric Tcheng

Lou Stoppard of SHOWstudio interviews Frédéric Tcheng, who previously worked on fashion documentaries Valentino: The Last Emperor and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. Stoppard and Tcheng discuss earning the trust of Simons and his team to capture the creative process, his immersion into the world of Dior, becoming emotionally attached to the Autumn/Winter 2012 collection and being pigeonholed as a fashion film director.

The film is now playing in theatres across the United States, Canada and United Kingdom, with dates in Europe and Asia to follow. Visit the film’s official website to find the showing nearest you, or to purchase and download the documentary through various online streaming services.


On Teaching Fashion: Edutainment  

Textiles & apparel courses, such as patternmaking and draping, seem difficult to translate into an online course since students need to learn how to use tools and equipment specific in the textiles and apparel fields. Reading chapters in our book, taking quizzes, and writing essays is one thing, but the actual skill of learning patternmaking or draping techniques is difficult to teach online in my opinion. Part of this belief stems from the joy of making mistakes in class and using them as an opportunity to teach and guide the student through the process. I often welcome mistakes as it gives me a new teaching opportunity with something that was never put in the lesson plan. Although, unlike the time when I was in school, we now have Youtube with free content where you can learn patternmaking. We also have inexpensive craft sites where you can learn sewing skills, patternmaking, draping, etc. including specific skills such as how to make jeans for a fee that is smaller than tuition at colleges and universities. Students today live online and it is important to acknowledge that they learn there as well. They want a quick and easy tutorial and often teach themselves how to do things by watching those online videos and courses. I spoke with Marianela Manzanares, Professor of Psychology of Personality at the Universidad Metropolitana. She teaches hybrid classes, which are a mixture of both in-person classroom instruction and online teaching. She caught my attention with her beautiful videos that introduce each chapter that the students will cover. They are mini-movies and really draw you into the lesson. Prof. Manzanares said that her students “get a first approach to the subject online so when they have to be in-class or in-person they are benefitted by that introduction.But she kept emphasizing that it “has to be entertaining. You have to make an introduction that relates to their lives. It should be something that is relevant to current events in their lives today and in the world and their country. Something relevant to their world as well as current or you will lose their interest and they will start looking at social media or shopping online” She added “I think students enjoy learning online and you just have to catch them first and then you will have a successful student. But the human contact is more important because you can be there to motivate them and to show your passion about the subject and that is something you can’t translate online because that it is contagious. That is why I think the hybrid model is ideal.” Prof. Manzanaras said she makes “a little documentary to introduce a theme with music, video, voiceover, special effects and animations. She adds that the university “trained me to do that part and the rest I learned to do myself because I liked it and wanted to learn more to make well produced video clips. But I wish I knew the technical aspect of making online video and programming better in order to entertain students in this digital era.  They are entertaining themselves all the time with online content, and you have to top that so I wish I knew that technical part better.”

Are you familiar with hybrid courses in the textiles and apparel fields? Have you found that it is successful or so you prefer the traditional approach of classroom only teaching? Please leave your comments below and I look forward to hearing from you.


Fashion-Focused Digital Resources: Met Publications

MetPublications, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s portal for electronic versions of its exhibition catalogs and academic literature, has expanded in the last year to include over 400 titles. Many of these books, published since the 1960s, are now out of print. Some are available for free download or print on demand; others offer a preview with a link to purchase. MetPublications is complemented by the Met’s collection of over 400,000 high-res images of public domain works in the museum’s collection. These works are identified within the Met’s collection database by an “OASC” icon, and users can click the download arrow to save object images. Exhibition catalogs are a great source for researching and dating historic costume, or simply a way to review an exhibition you missed or discover a new thematic approach to a topic. Below are some selections  for fashion historians from the Met’s extensive open online library. Follow the links and click “download PDF” to view the full text of each catalog.


American Ingenuity: Sportswear, 1930s–1970s

Beginning in the early 1930s, American designer sportswear came into its own, later becoming a major force in fashion that continued into the 1990s to influence the way women dress. Designers such as Bonnie Cashin, Tina Leser, Vera Maxwell, Claire McCardell, Clare Potter, and Emily Wilkens initiated a new standard of dressing, one that is right for the lifestyle of the modern woman and that is purely American in its practicality, simplicity, and democratic elements. Richard Martin, Curator of The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, has brought these designers together again, and his text both examines their position and import as a historical group and discusses their individual accomplishments. – Excerpt from Publisher

The Ceaseless Century: Three Hundred Years of Eighteenth-Century Costume

The shapes and silhouettes, the corseted waists and deep décolletage, the incredibly wide and flat skirts—in a word, the majesty—of eighteenth-century style have provided lasting inspiration for fashion even to the present. In this fascinating volume, which accompanies a fall 1998 exhibition of the same name at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Richard Martin, Curator of The Costume Institute there, discusses and analyzes fashions of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, using the eighteenth century as a touchstone to discuss the complex navigation that characterizes revivalism. – Excerpt from Publisher

Christian Dior

Published 50 years after Christian Dior’s “New Look” of 1947, and accompanying an exhibition at The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, this book presents a chronology of Dior’s creations. They are drawn chiefly from The Costume Institute’s collections, which include an extensive record of the designer’s achievement as recognized by his New York clients of the 1940s and 1950s. Among the illustrations are extravagant evening wear, chic accessories, and details of Dior tailoring, as well as documentary photographs from the Dior Archives, Paris. The text places Dior’s achievement in the cultural perspective of postwar renewal: the desire for optimism, the return to innocence, and the reclaiming of the pleasures of fine clothing and other sumptuary arts. Analyzing the “New Look,” the authors set out to demonstrate the abiding impact of Dior’s formulation of an icon for fashion’s postwar renaissance. – Full Abstract from Publisher

Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century

During the reigns of Louis XV (1723–74) and Louis XVI (1774–92) fashion and furniture merged ideals of beauty and pleasure through their forms and embellishments. With their fragile surfaces and delicate proportions, tables, chairs, and other pieces of furniture enhanced the elite’s indulgence in leisurely pursuits, fostering highly complex standards of etiquette and performance. Men and women restated the splendor of the Rococo and Neoclassical interiors of the period in their opulent costumes. For the eighteenth-century libertine and femme du monde, a refined elegance and delicate voluptuousness infused their world with a mood of amorous delight. Dangerous Liaisons takes its theme from this era, when trifling in love propelled the energies of elite men and women, providing almost daily stimulating encounters, and when, as has been written, “morality lost but society gained.” – Excerpt from Publisher

Image credit: MetPublications


Domestic Affairs: April Showers

Italian Style

April seems to be filled predominantly with exhibitions that are about to close — so this week’s column will be filled with a lot of “last chance to see” notifications. That being said, there are a couple of new exhibitions, and some upcoming events that I’m sure many of you won’t want to miss.

At the Museum at FIT, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston is closing on April 18, while Faking It closes on April 25. These are, by all accounts, incredible exhibitions so go see them while you can.

Also in New York, the french institute : alliance française‘s Fashion Talk for April is a conversation with Proenza Schouler taking place on April 15. Tickets are still available according to the website.

At the Kent State Museum, Inside Out: Revealing Clothing’s Hidden Secretshas been open for about a month and is getting rave reviews. This exhibition takes a somewhat radical approach to revealing the craftsmanship that goes into clothing construction, according to the website, “This exhibition showcases these secret inner-workings that are usually out of sight.” Definitely worth a visit if you can reach it. While there you can see their many concurrent exhibitions, as well as the retrospective Geoffrey Beene: American Ingenuity which opened in January.

In San Francisco, High Style — which I reviewed here two weeks ago – is still open at the Legion of Honor. And Oscar de la Renta: His Legendary World of Style is still open at the SCAD Museum in Savannah, Georgia.

In Los Angeles, African Textiles and Adornment: Selections from the Marcel and Zaira Mis Collectionjust opened this week at LACMA, and the 23rd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition at the FIDM Museum will be closing on April 25.

In Portland, registration is still open for the Costume Society of America-Western Region event for the V&A’s Italian Style exhibition, which is up at the Portland Art Museum.

As always, if you have been to any of these exhibitions and want to share your thoughts, or if you have an event or exhibition you want to let Worn Through readers know about feel free to leave a comment below, or to email me the details!


You Should Be Reading: Mad Men Style

As the final season of Mad Men resumed on Sunday and the Museum of the Moving Image opened their exhibition of sets, props and costumes from the show, this week I’ll present readings that analyze the fashion of Mad Men. In addition to the articles linked below, Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez’s blog series Mad Style is an incredibly detailed and insightful examination of character’s costumes, hair, makeup and surroundings. For those who can’t make it to MMI, “T Magazine” published images of costumes and moodboards from the exhibition captioned with quotes from the show’s costume designer, Janie Bryant. Bryant also recently spoke with Bloomberg about what she wears to work and how it’s influenced by the 1960s style of the show.

1. Gantz, Katherine. (2011). Mad Men’s Color Schemes: A Changing Palette of Working Women. Studies in Popular Culture, 33 (2), 43-58.

The author presents an examination of color in the television program “Mad Men,” focusing on how the theme of color serves to reflect the complex experience of women in the working world and how it allows them to reveal their secrets. She begins by discussing masculinity and male discourse and goes on to examine clothing colors, particularly as worn by the character of Joan, and how these relate to the social status of women in the workplace. – Full Article Abstract

2. Hamilton, Caroline. (2012). Seeing the World Second Hand: Mad Men and the Vintage Consumer. Cultural Studies Review, 18 (2), 223-241.

An essay is presented on the notion of vintage in the contemporary consumption of audiences of the American Movie Classics Co.’s (AMC) television series “Mad Men.” It examines the notion of vintage consumerism as an aesthetic as well as a category of contemporary consumption reflected in the appreciation and unexpected excitement of audiences. It also cites that ability of “Mad Men” to generate consumer heat through using historical artefacts to reinforce an ephemeral present. – Full Article Abstract

3. Goodlad, Lauren, Lilya Kaganovsky and Robert A. Rushing, eds. (2013). Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s. Durham: Duke University Press.

Since the show’s debut in 2007, Mad Men has invited viewers to immerse themselves in the lush period settings, ruthless Madison Avenue advertising culture, and arresting characters at the center of its 1960s fictional world. Mad Men, Mad World is a comprehensive analysis of this groundbreaking TV series. Scholars from across the humanities consider the AMC drama from a fascinating array of perspectives, including fashion, history, architecture, civil rights, feminism, consumerism, art, cinema, and the serial format, as well as through theoretical frames such as critical race theory, gender, queer theory, global studies, and psychoanalysis. – Excerpt from Publisher


CFP: The Fashion Project: Exploring Critical Issues

Thursday September 24 – Saturday September 26, 2015

Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations:

Coco Chanel observed that fashion is ‘not something that exists in dresses only,’ and ‘has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.’ Scholars, designers, artists, bloggers, and ordinary individuals who are putting a ‘look’ together, agree. For them, fashion is an evolving creative historical, political, economic, and social process that reflects contemporary preoccupations. Fashion is a statement, a stylised form of expression, which displays and is part of what defines a person, a place, a class, a time, a culture, a society, a nation, and membership in global subcultures and communities. Georg Simmel described fashion as a system of sense and social stratification, based on group definitions. This inter- and trans-disciplinary conference explores the historical, social, economic, political, psychological, and artistic phenomenon of fashion, a powerful component of contemporary local and global culture. While some aspects of fashion can be exclusive, fashion is inclusive and lies at the very heart of persons, their construction of identity and the communities in which they live. Individuals emerge as icons of beauty and style, cities are identified as centres of fashion, and the business of fashion is a billions of dollar per annum global industry, employing millions of people. The project assesses the history and meanings of fashion; evaluates its expressions in politics, business, pop culture, the arts, consumer culture, and social media; determines its effect on gender, sexuality, class, age, race, ethnicity, nation, religion, and other sources of identity; and explores future directions and trends.

Building on the foundations of previous meetings, publications, and collaborations, the conference will be structured around five main areas of focus that will appeal to a wide range of fashion-oriented participants from all countries, formations, and trades, with the goal of building global pathways, dialogue, and understanding across disciplines and practices. Academics, theoreticians, designers, artists, and skilled professionals will have the opportunity to enjoy specific as well as whole group sessions, designed to provide them with opportunities for long term engagement beyond their initial participation. Papers, presentations, demonstrations, and workshops are invited on the following themes:

1. Understanding Fashion:
– Fashion, Style, Taste-Making, and Chic
– Fashion and Fashionability
– Fashion and Zeitgeist
– History of Fashion
– The Future of Fashion
– The Psychology of Fashion
– Philosophy and Fashion

2. Studying Fashion:
– Tools and Methodologies
– Theorizing Fashion: Disciplines and Perspectives
– Fashion Studies & Fashion Education
– Identifying, Defining and Refining Concepts (e.g., ‘style,’ ‘fashion,’ ‘look,’ ‘fad,’ ‘trend’)
– Documenting and Curating Fashion
– Fashion Construction and Craft
– The Materials of Fashion

3. Representing and Disseminating Fashion:
– Fashion Icons
– Fashion Models
– Fashion and Glamour
– Designers and Muses
– Costumes and uniforms
– Masquerades and other ruses
– Fashion, Popular Culture and Celebrity
– Style Guides and Makeover Shows
– Fashion Photography
– Fashion, Art, Literature, Architecture
– Fashion Magazines, Blogs, and Social Media
– Films and Documentaries about Fashion
– Fashion and the Performing Arts, Music and Television; Costumes

4. Identity and Fashion:
– Fashion and Identity
– Fashion (Sub)Cultures
– Fashion, Politics, and Ideology
– Fashion as Performance
– Fashion, the Body, and Self-Fashioning

5. Economies of Fashion:
– Fashion Professions and Trades
– Fashion Cities, Fashion Weeks, Fashion’s Night Out
– Fashion Marketing (e.g., brands, flagship stores, guerilla stores, eCommerce)
– Shopping and Consumption Practices
– Fashion Forecasting
– Marketing Platforms (e.g., communication, streaming video, social media, etc.)
– Fashion Markets: Vintage, Mass, Luxury, Accessories, Emerging, Other (e.g., food)
– Producing and Displaying Fashion
– Sustainable and Ethical Business Practices

What to Send:

300 word abstracts are due by Friday April 10, 2015. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 10th July 2015. Emails containing the abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: FASHION7 Abstract Submission.

Please Note: In this email please attach TWO versions of your abstract as follows:

1) One with title and body of abstract only (no identification of the author—this version will be for our blind peer review process).
2) The other with the following information about the author(s): affiliation, email, title of abstract, title and body of abstract

All abstracts will be at least double blind peer reviewed. Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:
Jacque Lynn Foltyn:
Rob Fisher:

The conference is part of the Critical Issues series of research projects. The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence


Under the London Fashion Umbrella: From the British Path

Emma is away for the month, so for her two April columns I’ll be digging around the British Pathé fashion reel archives.

To start, especially since racing season has begun, who could say no to a three-minute reel about the Queen’s hats?


Parisian Insights: Shozo Shimamoto

This weekend ended the Parisian art fair entitled Art Paris. I regularly attend art fairs in order to discover new artists and also take note of the trends of the art market. As I passed by the De Buck Gallery’s space, I was attracted by a hanging shirt splattered with paint. The art work was by Shozo Shimamoto, a Japanase artist – who died in 2013 – who had participated to the foundation of the Gutai movement, an eastern answer to the American post-war action painting. Shozo Shimamoto specialized, from the 1950s, in the making of art pieces via the elaboration of dynamic performances. During his performances, the artist would throw paint entrapped in various containers that would thus explose once they had hit their targets, most often a simple canvas. The performance would therefore lead to three art moments: the performance itself, the canvas and all the collateral damages – adjacent objects splattered by paint.

Shozo Shimamoto, Felissimo 40 - 2007 - De Buck Gallery

Shozo Shimamoto, Felissimo 40 – 2007 – De Buck Gallery


Shozo Shimamoto not only produced paintings but also invited trivial reminders of his performances, that from minor witnesses would later become major art works as soon as the artist decided to isolate them, sign them and enclose them within a frame. I must admit I have found very little information about the artist and his performances. All I did discover is that the different painted clothing signed by the artist and that can be found today in various collections are the result of a performance entitled Felissimo as it was commissioned by the Japanese brand bearing the same name and took place at the Kobe Fashion Museum in 2007. The Felissimo performance is one of the rare artistic moments in the artist’s existence that had something to do with fashion. Yet fashion here did not serve a purpose nor a discourse, the white clothes used during this performance were simply an innovative canvas, the means of a transformation. The whole performance engaged with sound and action, there’s something very chaotic and almost violent in the way the painting containers are hit and thrown towards the floor below and when we observe the splattered clothes, we can’t help but think of them as victims stained by watercolor that evokes blood. Like all the objects found within his performances, Shozo Shimamoto turned the pieces of clothing into unique art works. The shirt I saw at the fair is signed and numbered and hangs within a glass case: fashion and art closely mingled.

Alexander McQueen, SS 1999 - Shalom Harlow

Alexander McQueen, SS 1999 – Shalom Harlow

The Felissimo art works instantly recalled two further artistic projects. First, I could not help but look back at Alexander McQueen‘s 1999 Spring-Summer show and Shalom Harlow’s encounter with mechanical robots that sprayed paint on her immaculate dress. I don’t know whether Shozo Shimamoto had this peculiar moment in mind when he organized his own performance but to me there’s something similar in the violence of the action. The main difference yet resides in the fact that when Alexander McQueen used inorganic machines to ‘attack’ a human being, Shozo Shimamoto invited humans to assail inanimate objects.

François Aubert, Emperor Maximilien's Shirt, 1867

François Aubert, Emperor Maximilien’s Shirt, 1867

Finally, examining the framed shirt, I was reminded of François Aubert’s iconic photography from 1867. The French photographer created a historical and artistic momentum when he photographed the shirt of the Emperor Maximilien that had just been executed in Mexico. Without depicting the execution itself and with this stained shirt pierced by bullets, the photographer evoked a macabre shroud and turned the intimate piece of clothing of a man into the abstract symbol of death.  Within Shozo Shimamoto, I found that similar morbid feel and the process of turning something trivial into a more grandiose concept. When clothing is seized by contemporary art, it often takes on disturbing feelings as if the inanimate garment, separated from flesh and movement, comes too close to death and sorrow. That is why there lies the whole challenge for fashion curators who need to bring life to their motionless objects..

I would love to hear about your opinion on that subject and if any of you have further information concerning Shozo Shimamoto’s work and the Felissimo performance, I would love to read about it.

Further Resources:

You can watch the performance, here.