From the Archives: Parisian Insights: The Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Online Archives

Today, I invite you to look back at my last September post about the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent’s online archives. The website is being, slowly but surely, completed, with various costume drawings. A quick reminder urging you to keep your eye open on this treasured online resource!


As a student and during my early years as a researcher (not a very long time ago!), I tended to be quite suspicious of the internet. Online resources were not always well developed and except for a few museum’s websites, I would mistrust information found on the web: I would only rely on books! I have, fortunately, since, learnt to see online information as an ally as long as I know how to sort out the material.

In France, fashion and costume museums are late: their websites present little are no patrimonial documentation. Les Arts Décoratifs do propose about 2000 objects within their database and are a future partner of the Europeana Fashion project whilst the Musée Galliera does not even possess a proper website. [at this date, they now do]

I was therefore thrilled to learn that the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent is working on the digitization of their documentation. Little by little, all the fashion drawings, costume projects, posters and spectacle décors will be online. For the moment, you can find the exquisite Paper Dolls imagined by Yves Saint Laurent between 1953 and 1955. A fantastic resource!

As a teenager, the couturier imagined his ideal fashion house, ‘Yves Mathieu Saint Laurent Couture Place Vendôme‘: his models are paper dolls for which he imagines garments and accessories. He also details collection programs that precise who are the textile suppliers and that the models’ hair is done by Carita and make-up by Elisabeth Arden. It is quite amazing to observe how a childlike game can reveal itself as very serious and herald a future fruitful career.

Paper Doll 'Ivy' Copyright: Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent

Paper Doll ‘Ivy’
Copyright: Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent


The foundation, now, possesses 11 dolls, more than 400 paper garments and more than 100 accessories and the online category enables visitors to dress up these dolls: a playful and pedagogic way of discovering the collection.

You can also browse through a few of the designer’s posters and drawings that highlight Yves Saint Laurent’s creativity and artistic sense that did not confine itself to fashion only.

Whilst working for Christian Dior, in 1956, Yves Saint Laurent imagined a cartoon for adults, entitled ‘La Vilaine Lulu‘ (Naughty Lulu) who enjoys being provocative and cruel: a humorous work that was published in 1967.  You can discover on the foundation’s website 10 little illustrated stories.

Finally, are visible costume designs conceived for Jean Seberg in Moment to Moment, Sophia Loren in Arabesque, Catherine Deneuve (his favourite!) in Belle de Jour, la Chamade and La Sirène du Mississippi and Anny Duperey in Stavisky.

Belle de Jour Costume Sketch. Copyright: Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent

Belle de Jour Costume Sketch – 1967.
Copyright: Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent

It’s always fantastic to observe the preparatory work prior to the making of a film. I haven’t seen all the films cited but a few, Belle de Jour , La Sirène du Mississippi and Arabesque: it eases the experience. You can guess behind the pencil sketch, the actress’s figure and character; you can affix the tones and the environment…

I imagine this section is in the making as it is still very poor and lacks further information about the costumes and films themselves; I hope this category will be fed in the future to add a touch of celebrity glamour to the website!

The fashion section has not been started yet and I cannot wait for it to be online: that will be the ultimate resource!

When I was in charge of the organisation of Guy Laroche’s archives, rummaging (that is the exact term! Drawings had all been thrown into boxes and had been sleeping there for more than 10 years) through the sketches and classifying them: I truly sensed the worth of illustrations. Not that I hadn’t before but I was quite an object-obsessed! I needed three-dimensional objects to comprehend a trend or a history and to me, drawings only completed the information. At Guy Laroche, I had no objects to rely on, illustrations and (hopefully!) a few photographies were my only resources. At that point, I started treasuring these documents, understanding the primary data they would diffuse and today, I still need an object because I esteem ‘the finished product’  but I definitely value these handmade elementary resources. 

The foundation’s online archives are not perfect right now: the digitalization is an ongoing process so I imagine that justifies the lack of explanations along certain documents. I, however, find the site very aesthetic and easy to use (especially the Paper Doll section). I don’t know if, once the site is completely achieved, there will be more interaction between the objects and the categories but I do hope so: a method that will enable visitors to stumble upon archives they had not previously planned to research!

I tried to switch on the English version to test it for you but it didn’t seem to work: a momentary problem? The translation has not been done yet? I’d be curious to know whether, despite the website may only be in French at this time,  it is useful and valuable for English speaking-only users. Let me know!

What do you think of online resources? Are you like me a few years ago: a book-only researcher? Do you practice both? 

I secretly wish that in the future, the foundation would also digitalize photographies of its collection of garments: therefore, this online resource will be mere perfection! Do you agree?


You Should Be Watching: The Suit

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.




CFP: World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) 2014

Fashion Takes Action presents: World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) 2014
“Creating Shared Value” Comparing Canadian Experiences With International Benchmarks

November, 2014

Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto

The first conference of its kind in Canada, WEAR will bring together apparel brands and retailers, sustainability experts, NGOs and academia to share best practices, build relationships, present new research and tackle the social and environmental challenges facing the industry today.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Profitability: the profitability case for sustainable and ethical fashion
  • Social Responsibility: make fair/buy fair, navigating corporate social responsibility
  • Environmental: incorporating sustainability into the design and manufacturing process, the need and effectiveness of standards
  • Engagement: consumer perceptions, green washing and transparency

You are cordially invited to submit a presentation proposal or research abstract relevant to our overall theme or specifically referencing one of our topic areas.

Proposals should be submitted by email by no later then August 4th, 2014.

Please format using Times New Roman, font size 12, no longer then one page, and be sure to include contact information for the presenter.

Email submissions to


On Teaching Fashion: Teaching and Learning


Summer Faculty Institute 2014

At the end of each semester my university offers a unique opportunity for faculty to learn. The Summer Faculty Institute offers a weeklong, hands-on curriculum for faculty and others involved in teaching. It is immersive, informal, collegial and extremely fun. The sessions are interactive and focus on the latest technological advances in classroom and online instruction. The opportunity to engage with colleagues across the university in newest insights from educational research, and technological advances is something I look forward to each spring (when I am literally dragging and desperate to replenish my wellspring of inspiration.) The Institute ignites my inner student and re-focuses my energies towards developing significant learning opportunities for my students.

Over my next few posts I will share with you some insights from the 2014 Summer Faculty Institute, themed this year as “Focused on learning: Creative Approaches to Teaching.” I will offer what I learned, breakthroughs during the process as well as what I hope to do with what I learned. I also would like to invite YOU, the reader, to share in the learning and offer (via comments) your own outcomes.

What I learned

My key learning, what I am most excited about is the challenge (opportunity) to inspire agency in my students, I am envisioning that student who approaches me on the first day or at the first of each project with “listen lady, tell me what I need to do to get an A.”

In this post I will concentrate on insights gathered from a presentation by Dr. Kris Shaffer, Colorado University – Boulder titled “Productive discomfort: Fostering Learning in an Inquiry-Driven Class” that addressed learner agency. It is a compelling presentation and you may access it here.

Shaffer first shares an open letter presented to his students as part charge for the semester, part disclaimer, part recipe for success, this is a brilliant declaration he reads to his students on the first day of class. He declares I want you to learn how to learn. In this classroom, the teacher is not holder of golden answers. Here, the student is charged to exercise “learning” as in to understand. The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning as a process and not simply hand out knowledge like a product, wrapped in fancy paper and tied with a pretty bow. Shaffer discusses a lot of material in this lecture, and I won’t discuss all of it in my post. I am going to focus on the notion of “training wheels” and the hope of inspiring agency in my students.

sourced online

Give students a problem they can partially solve, use those skills first, dig deeper. In his presentation Shaffer scrutinizes the pedagogical process of scaffolding as it hinders understanding, i.e., making the unfamiliar familiar and providing context to concepts in a way that the student comprehends and achieves knowledge. Scaffolding in teaching is when, as quoted “the support the master gives apprentices in carrying out a task. This can range from doing almost the entire task for them to giving occasional hints as to what to do next.” As the student—the apprentice—becomes more competent, the teacher—the master—gradually backs away, in effect removing the scaffolding. Shaffer compares scaffolding to the training wheel.

In his lecture Shaffer presents training wheels as a metaphor for the kinds of compromises teachers make with students so that learning appears to happen. He points to the research of Mark Sample (where the training wheel concept originates.) Sample writes that training wheels externalize the hardest part of riding a bike. If you’re a little kid and want to start riding a bike, training wheels are great. If you’re a little kid and want to start to learn how to ride a bike, training wheels will be your greatest obstacle.

Breakthrough in the process

This spring I developed a CAD study guide to assist my students step-by-step and page-by-page on how to learn adobe illustrator. My thinking was that the guide was a sort of road map that my student would use enthusiastically in her reading and tutorials, digging deep as to completely absorb the software. Boy, was I mistaken!

This guide acted as “training wheels” for adobe illustrator. All my student learned was how to scan and copy terms from her technical manual so that she could complete the assignment as fast as possible, like a product, wrapped in fancy paper and tied with a pretty bow. According to what I learned in this presentation, I failed to provoke my student, to offer incentive, to require that she connect to her prior knowledge. I did not give her a chance to figure out something she did not know, student is charged to find her way.

Students in CAD lab smile because they are learning to learn.

What I hope to do with what I learned

What agency can I give my student? Perhaps I can frame the adobe illustrator module as an industry project in future classes to make it more relevant. Bring in an industry critic to create incentive. Frame the project as a “real-world” scenario that she has to solve, using her wits, involve her in her learning. Can you thing of any training wheels in your classroom? How do you inspire agency in your student? Happy Teaching!


Rainio, A. P. (2008). From resistance to involvement: Examining agency and control in a playworld activity. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 15(2), 115-140.

Discussion on Learner Agency –

Images sourced online.

Red gift:

Photo Credit: Kelly Cobb



Book Review: Caps/One Size Fits All

caps cover image

In my very short time as a substitute teacher in the Swedish public school system, I suddenly had a new relationship with baseball caps: trying to get boys 12-15 to please take them off, if I have to ask you a fifth time there will be consequences, et cetera. What, besides an emphatic need to do the opposite of anything a substitute teacher says, makes these caps so irresistible, so difficult to remove? Steven Bryden has been equally besatt with hats his whole life, beginning with a Marlboro merchandise hat his father gave him. Now that caps have become the objects of obsession and collection, a new book on the subject was in order: Bryden’s Caps/One Size Fits All was released this year. One cap enthusiast even called it a “bible.

photo 3

For the fashion historian this is a meritorious material culture study from a true insider. The book prioritizes the object as a collector’s item, and offers a pop history of the ubiquitous accessory that is heavy on images and photography. From wool flannel vintage remakes to the Odd Future Golf cap, Bryden centers his book around a selection of hats that represent the width and breadth of cap culture.

After a (very) short history by Gary Warnett, the reader is presented with diagrams from a baseball cap patent, which allows Bryden to show us the “Anatomy of a Cap”: here is the brim, the buckram, the sweatband. It may seem like overdrive for such a simple garment, but I like the democratic approach. Caps and sneakers have become, oxymoronically, elite street fashion, but this book allows everyone to come in on the same level. Bryden outlines the major manufacturers, including the well-known New Era and the perhaps lesser-known Sports Specialties Corporation (later sold to Nike). The book has a collector’s tone: just enough information so that you can impress your friends and keep an eye on what you might like to own and wear yourself.

So it’s no surprise that the most substantial section of this book is about individual specimen, listing specs like date, type of hat, and a few lines of observation, maybe a snippet of historical significance or an insidery trivia gem. The museum-collections-report-like sentence structure can sound unnatural considering the pop-history function of the book, but the empirical observation also serves to honor the objects with respectful distance:

photo 2


The [ESPN 'Boo-Yeah!!'] cap is a promotional item for the US TV network ESPN; it was only available on studio tours. It features the network’s ‘Boo-Yeah!!’ strapline stitched onto the rear; this was a well-known catchphrase of SportCenter anchor Stuart Scott. The cap has an adjustable strap and is constructed from cotton twill. (93)

While each of these descriptions may be fascinating to cap collectors, and possibly very useful for future fashion historians (what was “in,” collectable, or at least available in 2014?), the second half of the book provides the most entertaining sections: interviews with innovators, photographs of the film and sports stars that made caps a Thing, and street style. Offering the reader insights from “key insiders from the streetwear world,” Bryden continues to let us in on the ground floor. The interviews in the “Influencers and Innovators” section are short; Bryden asks marginally more interesting questions than we saw in the Fashion Scandinavia book, but we the readers want more! Fittingly, only one woman is interviewed: this is a male fashion world.

The “Caps Made Famous” chapter is the most engaging, visually strong and nostalgic. Pop culture icons from Eddie Merckx and Will Smith to Lewis Hamilton and A$AP Rocky are shown in their cap of choice, providing a historical flow. Remember Daryl Strawberry? Did you know that the Tri-Mountain Baseball Club was the first New England team to take up New York-style baseball?

“Street Snaps” brings the cap back into the present, offering a variety of different faces (mostly young, mostly male) framed by an equally broad range of caps. The volume ends with a list of shops for those readers inspired to start or expand his or her own collection.

photo 4

This book shows how not only the aesthetics and the materials but also the meanings and the use of caps have changed from their earliest years in the late nineteenth century, in brief. Acknowledging and furthering the cult status of the cap, Cap/One Size Fits All provides a foundation for collectors and maybe even collections personnel in museums with forward-thinking accessions policies. While it is an interesting, quick read even for those not interested in wearing caps, I’m not sure it’s worthwhile to fashion historians except for the value inherent in its insider perspective (it’s not the first book about the cap phenomenon, but it is the first one in almost 20 years) It collates pertinent information into one resource in a way the internet cannot, with a clear structure and a nice flow. Far from academic, it is the ideal analog homage to a now-timeless accessory.


Lead Image: Cover of Caps/One Size Fits All by Steven Bryden [Prestel, 2014].

Further Reading:

Garcia, Bobbito. Where’d You Get Those? New York City’s Sneaker Culture 1960-1987. New York: Testify Books, 2003.

Harris, Alice. The White T. New York: HarperStyle, 1996.

Sullivan, Deidre. Caps. New York: Andrew McMeel Publications, 1997.

Talbot, Stephanie. Slogan T-Shirts: cult and culture. London: A&C Black, 2013.


If you speak Swedish, I suggest you listen to the Baseballkepsen episode of Stil i P1. If you have any other insider baseball cap research tips, leave them in the comments section and I’ll update this bibliography!


Domestic Affairs: GORGEOUS, World War I Women, Lingerie, and more


Distance may prevent me from seeing the Charles James exhibition at the Met, or the Museum at FIT‘s current exhibition, Exposed: A History of Lingerie, which opened June 3 and will be up until November 15; but I will still be travelling quite a bit this summer, from one end of California to the other.

In July, in addition to a trip to Los Angeles especially to see the latest FIDM Museum exhibition, Designing Hollywood: Sketches from the Christian Esquevin Collection (open until November 1) and LACMA‘s Kimono for a Modern Age (July 5 – October 19) and Treasures from Korea (June 29 – September 28), I will also be making the trek to San Francisco to see the Asian Art Museum‘s GORGEOUS, open June 20 – September 14GORGEOUS intrigues me because it seems to aim at encouraging visitors to explore or even challenge their perceptions of beauty — be that in art or in appearance and aesthetics in general. According to the Asian’s website, the exhibition features 72 paintings, sculptures, objects of high design or decoration and photographic works from both the Asian’s collection and that of the SF MoMA (currently undergoing a major renovation); the exhibition spans cultures and millennia and “in an attempt to shift the focus from historical and cultural contexts, emphasiz[es] instead the unique ways each work announces itself or solicits a viewer’s attention emphasizing instead the unique ways each work announces itself or solicits a viewer’s attention.”

Look for my Los Angeles reviews in my August columns, and my review of GORGEOUS in my July 23rd post.

For my first column in July (July 9), I will be covering (virtually) the upcoming Kent State University exhibition, The Great War: Women and Fashion in a World at War, which opens July 24. I cannot attend, but I will be interviewing curator Sara Hume about the exhibition, its challenges and its aims. World War I fashion is something I have long loved — it is the only reason I started watching Downton Abbey, I confess — so I am looking forward to speaking with Sara and sharing what I learn with you.

Other fashion-related happenings in June and July include the Fashion Tech Forum, happening today in New York city. According to the website, the forum’s purpose is to “provide a platform for fashion, design, and technology to connect and collaborate on hot to work together in the future.” This sounds like an interesting topic, and I’d be curious to hear if anyone went, what they thought, or if any of you have had any ideas or experiences with something similar in your classrooms or museums in the comments!

In Detroit, Bruce Weber’s photographs of the city’s people and their clothing are on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The exhibition combines two projects of Weber’s, the first an assignment from magazine to photograph Kate Moss in unfamiliar surroundings, the second highlighting the city, its people, evolution, and dynamic. The exhibit opened June 20, and will be up until September 7.

As always, please feel free to share your experiences of and thoughts about any of these exhibitions — or even those I’ve not mentioned — in the comments below. Also please share any exhibitions or events you want shared either in the comments or by email.

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CFP: Brazilian Fashion Special Issue

Brazilian Fashion: A special issue of Fashion Theory – the journal of dress, body and culture 

Publication date: April 2016 (Issue 20.2)

Guest editors: Rita M. Andrade (Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil) and Regina A. Root (The College of William and Mary, USA)

Despite its popularity around the globe, the richness and complexity of Brazilian fashion remains relatively unstudied by scholars of fashion history and theory. This call for papers seeks contributions on the diverse influences and cultural construction of Brazilian fashion that surpasses any single notion of Brazilianness: its diverse styles, its postcolonial issues and avant-garde possibilities, its ethical concerns and challenges, its relationship to time and space. Integrating Brazilian fashion into a larger narrative on global trends, this volume will prioritize essays that detail history and analyze design creation and consumption, cultural references found in museum collections and archives, interactions with popular and visual culture, and projections for the future.

Submission Guidelines

Proposal due date: August 1, 2014.

Proposals should include:

  • Title
  • 300- word abstract
  • Brief bibliography (that provides a glimpse into both the subject of study and the theoretical framework)
  • 50-word biography
  • Contact information

Email: and We will accept preliminary abstracts in Spanish and Portuguese with the final essay written in English. Completed essays will be due no later than March 30, 2015.

Please see the Fashion Theory website for more information.


Review: Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014 at V&A Museum

In The Language of Clothes, the author Alison Lurie suggests that a bride’s preference for a one off all white outfit can be what the earlier costume commentator Prudence Glynn describes as wanting on the one hand “one marvelous, escapist, romantic moment in an otherwise drab life” or, on the other “by wearing archaic dress she is stating her unconscious belief that the ceremony itself is archaic.”[1]

Display featuring the pink background and in the foreground, an ensemble of accessories dating from the early to mid 19th century.

Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, the latest exhibition in the V&A’s wonderful Fashion Galleries, certainly appears to embrace this perceived romance and escapism of what to wear on the special day with its emphasis on a ‘western wedding style’, predominantly British, in sartorial form. Upon entering the exhibition, the visitor finds herself looking at a timeline of white dresses, displayed against pink walls, with curvy fonts highlighting the wonder of weddings as expressed by a range of contemporary cultural commentators. Once on the upper gallery, it is possible to see huge projections of photographs showing the more current dresses on their owners, in-situ, replete with soft focus edges and flowery transitions. This exhibition holds to the ideals associated with a particular normative notion of femininity, where weddings are a bride’s ultimate dream rather than a complex socio-cultural event where ideas and values are negotiated through dress.

Jenny Bishop in Ian Stuart wedding dress, with the exhibition in the background. Victoria & Albert Museum.

Despite there being several outfits on display that make reference to different religious systems, local traditions and economic groups, these often felt like a novel footnote to the main body of text rather than a full paragraph or chapter. The primacy of the ‘western wedding style’ meant that it was hard for me to place experiences such as the double wedding of my Trinidadian neighbour, who celebrated her nuptials in both a Hindi and Christian ceremony, into this exhibition. Similarly, I struggled to find examples of the angst experienced by many brides to be when it comes to finding the one dress, knowing that it is likely not to be worn again. I recall one friend who decided to overcome this challenge by buying a dress for 99p on Ebay while another gave herself only one day to find something to wear, recounting the experience as if it was had been a prison sentence.

Monica Maurice’s red wedding dress, 1938. Victoria & Albert Museum

So, for me, the most interesting outfits were those that were more idiosyncratic because they went some way to demonstrating the complex socio-cultural negotiations that take place around weddings. Take Monica Maurice, for instance.  The first woman to become a member of the Association of Mining Electrical Engineers in 1938 and who decided to wear red for her wedding of the same year to celebrate her love of the colour.  Or Elizabeth King, who had her dress made from furnishing fabric in 1941 as a way to circumvent clothing rations. More recently, imagine the moment when Christopher Breward and his partner James Brook wore suits for their civil partnership in 2006. I also enjoyed the dress worn by Lisa Butcher in 1992, whose literal baring caused her husband to pass judgment on the appropriacy of bridalwear at a wedding.

Suit worn by Christopher Breward in 2006 for his civil partnership with James Brook. Victoria & Albert Museum.

I thought the arrangement and presentation of the dress worn by Margaret Whigham in 1933 was excellent because it was possible to acknowledge the context more vividly with the inclusion of Pathe footage documenting the event. It also provided an early example of the way in which the white one off costume could be completely removed from fashionable dress, which in this case meant having a spectacularly huge train.

I appreciated those outfits where additional contextual information was present, which included photographs, accessories, design sketches and wedding invitations.  It was fascinating to spot a napkin souvenir created by Maud Cecil for her wedding in 1927, drawing our attention to the inherent ephemerality of nuptial occasions. It was also interesting to note that there was very little jewelry on display despite the fact that this can often play an important role in nuptial ceremonies.

Wedding dress designed by Norman Hartnell and worn by Margaret Whigham in 1933. Victoria and Albert Museum

Yet, overall, I found that the chronological approach to this exhibition made for quite a dull experience. Much of the label descriptions were given over to aesthetic references with very little explanation, intimating an art historical approach to understanding objects where prior knowledge is assumed. I find this quite irritating because it not only makes information appear esoteric but it fails to engage the visitor in a more critical dialogue with the objects on view. Interestingly, the aim of Wedding Dresses 1775- 2014 is to demonstrate how fashion has impacted upon the design of wedding dresses from a historical perspective yet in doing so, the one off all white outfit becomes increasingly fetishlike as it moves further away from its various spatial and temporal locations.

I think the exhibition could have extended to asking more reflective questions around the roles and responsibilities of those involved in a wedding. For instance, what do a bride and groom actually do in a wedding? How and why? What other factors play a part in wedding practices? What impact might this have upon their choice of dress?

Ending on a more positive note, the accompanying exhibition blog is very informative because, through curatorial narrative, the nuances of wedding dress design and wear are given more space as the curators move in and out of people’s lives through the chosen objects, forcing them to consider their relationships in a more immediate way than in the actual exhibition. This is most vividly realized when the curators meet with the designer Gareth Pugh and Kate Shillingford, fashion editor of Another Magazine to discuss how she wore his dress on her wedding day. The curator observes how intimate the relationship is between the designer and the client in their negotiation of specific details. I wonder if the exhibition could have benefited from having observations like this or even recordings of those who wore the garments recounting their experiences included as an audio guide to accompany the visitor.



[1]Alison Lurie (1981) The Language of Clothes London, Heinemann

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You Should Be Reading: Fashion and Fantasy

fashion books from

This week’s Reading column focuses on the interplay of fashion and fantasy, paying particular attention to the ways in which fashion presents a specific sort of fantasy world for the viewer and consumer. By carefully choosing the narrative, the fashion industry and media have the ability to promote a fantasy world for the consumer (either through the pages of a magazine or, more directly, through the purchasing of the clothes themselves). What sorts of fantasies are being promoted to audiences now? And why does this matter? These questions and more are answered in the three articles below. Enjoy!

1. Barry, B. (2014). Selling whose dream? A taxonomy of aspiration in fashion imageryFashion, Style & Popular Culture, 1(2), 175-192. 

Scholars and practitioners assume that women aspire to fashion photographs of idealized models. It is unknown, however, what makes a fashion image aspirational because previous researchers have not explored the various dimensions that evoke this concept. In this article, the author shares the development of a taxonomy that explains the evaluative criteria and image elements that elicit aspiration in fashion photographs based on data gathered in focus groups with 100 women. Findings reveal that women aspire to a fashion image according to their evaluations that it is honest, empowering and socially responsible. The models, creative direction and visual cues in the image trigger these three aspirational criteria. The author’s research contributes the first taxonomy of aspiration in fashion photographs and to the enhancement of knowledge about consumer engagement with images. Industry professionals are encouraged to incorporate promotional photographs into their corporate social responsibility agenda and produce imagery that represents women’s diverse beauty and character alongside glamour and artistry. – Paraphrased Article Abstract 

2. Bonadio, M. C. (2014). Brazilian fashion and the ‘exotic’International Journal of Fashion Studies, 1(1), 57-74. 

The construction of an exoticism associated with diverse elements of Brazilian cultural identities is a subject that has been widely investigated in several studies. Although much of what one sees and does in Brazilian fashion is characterized by images of exoticism, there has been little reflection on how it has become exotic. And yet, is this something that is just exotic to ‘others’ or also to Brazilians? Do Brazilians also understand themselves as such? In this article, the author seeks possible answers to these questions by outlining a brief history of the way the visual identity of Brazilian fashion has been created, by examining the role of the textile industry and cultural institutions (in particular the São Paulo Museum of Art) in the preparation of this visual understanding. – Paraphrased Article Abstract

3. Huppatz, D. J., & Manlow, V. (2014). Producing and consuming American mythologies: Branding in mass market fashion firmsGlobal Fashion Brands: Style, Luxury & History, 1(1), 23-40. 

The majority of contemporary fashion encompasses a vast middle ground comprised of popular and influential brands whose designs are neither haute couture nor trendy. These mass-market brands rely on intensive marketing and advertising to evoke ideals of an American national identity and lifestyle. In this article, we employ a holistic analysis of Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger’s lifestyle branding strategies aimed at creating coherent American mythologies, Gap, J. Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister’s less coherent approach and American Apparel’s new ‘authenticity’ in its portrayal of American ideals. In their respective branding strategies, each of the brands constructs a hyperreal American world based on appearances and associations, in which contradictory ideologies are conflated and consumed by global audiences. The companies produce coherent systems of signification through advertising and promotional strategies in which consumers are invited to become a part of their mythological constructs. Through the kaleidoscopic lens of the production-branding-consumption cycle, an examination of several mass-market brands exposes variations on American national identity and differing responses to broader cultural and political changes over the last four decades. – Full Article Abstract 


Image Credit:


CFP: Pretty In Kink – Culture, Theory, Sex, Kink

This collection will focus on the many ways in which various sexual practices are framed, represented, and commodified as aberrant, transgressive, or non-normative in popular culture. Embracing a fluid and dynamic definition of the term “kink” as sharing a continuum with “normal” sexual behavior, this collection of 15-20 chapters will explore the intersection of sexuality, cultural norms, and power through focused examination of popular representations of and discourses surrounding kink.

Chapters are sought  from scholars who study, encounter, and/or teach artifacts, texts, and issues related to kink, from fields including (but not limited to) gender/queer studies, film and media studies, literature, performance studies, sociology, fashion and design, and cultural history. Possible essay/chapter topics might include, but are not limited to:

- Kink throughout history: Victorian erotica, “medical” literature, stag films.
- The “mainstreaming” of kink – fashion and advertising.
- The historical relationship between kink and queerness/homosexuality
- Kink and leather: representations of dominance and submission
- Kink and representations of trans culture and bodies
- The sideshow: watching kink/voyeurism
- Kink and public/private performance of sex (orgies, parties, swinging, webcast/amateur porn, etc)
- Kink and feminism: demonization and sex-shaming trends
- Kink and sex work: “professional” kink
- Representations of kink, pain and “extreme” lifestyles
- Kink and legal issues (secrecy, surveillance, blackmail, etc.)
- Kink and trends in mainstream and alternative pornography
- Kink in popular/alternative music
- Kink and race/nationality/ethnicity/religion
- Kink in the classroom: the pedagogy of kink

Please submit proposals of approximately 500 words to

Initial deadline to meet first publishing proposal is July 15, 2014.

Please include a brief c.v. or bio which includes information about relevant research, experience, or previous publications. We welcome submissions from independent and early career scholars or others with specific related experience or expertise.

Proposals that approach the study of human sexuality from a variety of methodologies are encouraged, particularly those that are sex-positive and approach the study of this subject from a critical but non-judgmental perspective.