On Teaching Fashion: Students with Disabilities-UPDATED

Today I am reposting the Students with Disabilities article from June because a reader provided a useful link that I want to share with everyone: http://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/disabled-students/

This article covers your legal rights, what type of academic adjustments will be provided for you, and useful links to help students with disabilities. There is so much information so please click the above link and read over it. Thank you readers for writing in and contributing to Wornthrough.com!

The first year I attended Central Saint Martins, I served as the student course representative for my program. Course reps were given the opportunity to attend faculty meetings and I thought this was a great chance to see the behind the scenes work at my school. The most memorable meeting for me focused on students with disabilities. We discussed both physical and learning disabilities and strategies for working with them. I learned so much and left feeling inspired. I no longer have any of the paperwork from that meeting but there are many articles, such as “The prevalence of dyslexia among art students written by Ulrika Wolff* and Ingvar Lundberg,  if you would like to read up on this subject.

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My first year teaching at a university, I followed our syllabus requirements guide and included the disability office information with the short paragraph saying that any student with a disability has a right for reasonable accommodation. Over the years, I have had a few students approach me with a request for more time on tests and assignments. One semester I was given a sheet of paper from a student who told me that I had to sign it and return it to the office. I looked at the sheet and saw that the student had a disability that would require me to step in and provide aid when needed. There was a list of steps that I need to be prepared to do if a situation arose. A feeling of panic washed over me. This was quite serious and I couldn’t help thinking what if I made a mistake? When I went to drop off the paperwork I expressed my concern to the staff member and was told: “You don’t need to worry about this student. They have enough foresight to take care of themselves and contact the department and give you this paperwork. That means they will take care of themselves. The students you need to worry about are the ones that never report their problems.” I wondered how many unreported disabilities or even undiagnosed disabilities our student body may be struggling with.

According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 1 in 5 people have a disability in the U.S. which makes the possibility of having a disabled student in class fairly high. A physical disability may require more planning in a class room setting to accommodate a student, especially in a sewing lab. There is a small business in my town that hires people who are sight impaired to work in a sewing factory. The employees are trained to work in each station and learn how to sew and assemble a finished product. This business has a major contract with the government and is able to employ disabled people while teaching them a trade. I had hoped to tour this facility and report more information but was unable to arrange it.

The TedTalks lecture by Hugh Herr titled “The new bionics that let us run, climb, and dance”, is worth viewing if you haven’t already seen it. Herr says that a human being can never be viewed as “broken” by having a disability. He says, “It is our technology that is broken and inadequate”. The word disabled itself implies that something is not working. But with so many new technological advancements in prosthetics there is a major shift happening in the way we view disabled people in society. Our department recently held a lecture presenting current projects on special apparel for disabled people. Apparel is being redesigned with disabilities in mind such as clothing for a person that sits in a wheelchair all day. Clothing can be ergonomically designed in a way to avoid bulky seams that may put pressure on skin with poor circulation. Clothing that uses the same trends and style lines but redesigns closures is one area that is useful for disabled people as well as the aging population. Many of these design discoveries can be used for all people, disabled or not, and perhaps that is part of the positive change that is happening.

This is a topic that I will continue exploring and would love to write future posts addressing any new information I find. I am also interested in exploring the topic of teachers with disabilities, acquired either before of after they began teaching, and any struggles or strategies used in the classroom. Do you have any experiences with disabled students in the classroom that you would like to share? What are your experiences with teaching with a disability? Please leave your comments below. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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Review: The V&A Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion

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In October 2013, the V&A Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion in London opened and so it was nice to mark their one year anniversary with my first visit last month. Due to the Centre only being available via advance appointment or a tour once a month on a Friday morning, it has been impossible for me to get there and I do wonder how anyone who works full-time and/or has an interest in or teaches textiles and fashion study is able to access this fantastic resource. Therefore, I was very excited when I found out that the Centre had teamed up with Open House London to allow several tours to take place on a Saturday in September. Finally, I could get a chance to see the Centre and find out more about what it has to offer as a study resource.

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Public entrance to Blythe House (author’s own)

It was a rainy Saturday morning when I arrived at Blythe House in Olympia, the home for the Centre as well as other collections belonging to the V&A’s Archive of Art and Design, the British Museum and the Science Museum. As part of the Centre’s design, it was decided to reopen Blythe House’s original public entrance to what was once the largest Post Office Savings Bank in the country. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century, Blythe House served as its headquarters until the 1960s when it relocated to Glasgow. It is a huge, rather grand but formal, building that once was packed with thousands of employees, both men and women, looking after ordinary people’s savings. Walking in, I felt very much like this place had been both factory and civil institution.

The Centre was designed by Haworth Tompkins Architects and to some extent, it is an essay on intervention given that Blythe House is a Grade II listed Edwardian building and so cannot be drastically changed or rebuilt. For example, the reception area has been created by installing a large display case that will contain a rolling exhibition of the V&A’s study collection.  The first display is Eduardo Paolozzi’s Krazy Kat Arkive of Twentieth Century Popular Culture, which includes toys, figurines as well as some of his own work.[1]

The redesigned conservation studios have been installed so as to maximise natural light while allowing enough access for the transportation of objects to and from storage. On our tour, we were able to glimpse through the windows and although there were no conservators there that day, a few had kindly left out a few examples for us to have a look at.

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Glimpse into the Textile Conservation Studios (author’s own)

With the Centre itself, one of the main issues for the architects was being able to spread the weight of a collection of textiles and fashion evenly across a space the size of a football pitch without altering the ground or the supporting columns. As a result, a huge raised floor was installed as well as limitations on the weight of the collection at any one time. According to one review, every item had to be weighed before it could enter the building.[2] This must have been a considerable task, given that the V&A’s textile and fashion collection includes approximately 104,000 objects that span more than 5000 years.

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The Centre’s storage; note the raised floor and the large space (author’s own)

The main study area is beautiful in an understated way, with functionality at the heart of the architectural interruptions to the existing building. Tables are on wheels to allow visitors to move around objects, lights are retractable to allow for close ups or to reduce potential damage and there is even a mirror and a magnet board in the area designated for large study groups. It was nice to see one of the original wooden display cabinets for textiles from the V&A’s former Textile Galleries had been included [3], a reminder that these have been closed since 2011 and that to have access to the collection now was no mean feat on the part of the V&A and the architects.

Detail showing bees and flowers from evening dress, Norman Hartnell, 1957, V&A

As part of the tour, we were shown a few highlights from the collection, which included an evening dress designed by Norman Hartnell and worn by Queen Elizabeth for a state visit to Paris in 1957. I had previously seen this dress on a display mannequin at The Golden Age of Couture. Paris and London 1947 – 1957 exhibition in 2007 but to see it so close up, laid flat on conservation tissue paper, was a special moment. Not only was it a delight to see the diplomatically inspired embroidery of French field flowers and Napoleonic bees again but the evidence of being worn was also more apparent and somehow more poignant. I could immediately imagine Elizabeth wearing this garment and all that might have happened,  seeing it laid out in all its years of existence than I could have when posed on a mannequin in a state of presentation that was never its original destiny.

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Study tables in the Centre (author’s own)

The main aim of the Centre is to provide more access within a suitable setting for conservation and study. My understanding is that it was the V&A’s response to long waiting times for people to see the collection up close. I think the Centre is a critical resource and am glad that it is now in a dedicated space. However, I still think access is an issue. It is definitely not possible to visit the Centre spontaneously as it requires you to book in advance and give a reason for your visit. You are also required to provide photo identification on arrival and so you do need to be prepared in advance.

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Information desk and note the old wooden display case from the former Textile Galleries to the right (author’s own)

Although this may be apparent for those of us who are researchers and curators, I do wonder whether how inclusive this is of teachers and lecturers in the field. For example, the study group room can only take up to 18 people and is available only for five and a half hours a day, four days a week.  Having just begun the academic year again, I am very aware that I am very aware that my classes never seem to be less than 25 students and we may meet on a day when either the Centre is closed or the hours are not suitable.  I think this is a missed opportunity because students would benefit greatly from the opportunity to see such amazing primary sources in a setting that is very different from that of the curated exhibition display. It would also provide me, as the teacher, with a new physical context within which to guide student’s learning.

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View of Blythe House (author’s own)

The more convenient it is for young people to see what the V&A has to offer, the better it will be for both us and them. Yesterday, one of my fashion students asked me if the objects I had showed them from the V&A’s online collection were replicas. This was a great question and enabled us to consider the origins of museum collections, the ethics of conservation and the availability of artefacts for further study. I was reminded how unfamiliar students are now with museums and their collections.  My final thought as I left the elegant Centre and the rather formidable façade of Blythe House was that archives need to be used, ideally by those who will remember them, if they are to survive in the future.

 

[1], [3]  http://www.kcwtoday.co.uk/education/c5q6xee5a8.html [Accessed 6/10/14)

[2] http://historyfashionculture.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/designing-a-design-archive/ (Accessed 6/10/14)

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CFP: Fashion Tales 2015: Feeding the Imagination

June 18-20, 2015
Università Cattolica of Milan – Italy

Since its beginnings in the middle of the 19th century, fashion has been narrated through multiple media, both visual and verbal, and for different purposes such as marketing and advertising, art, costume history, social research and cultural dissemination. Since then, fashion has represented an important piece of material culture in modern industrial urban societies and in postcolonial and non-western contexts: artefacts that embody workmanship, tastes, lifestyles as well as the costume and art traditions of different countries.

Today, the discourses and the products of material culture developed in the field of fashion are ever more concerned with the issue of sustainability. This issue is seen not just in terms of ecological and ethical practices of production and consumption, as already well established in fashion studies, but also by revealing how fashion is able to create a virtuous circle between the aesthetic innovation of collections and the psycho-physical wellness of the person. The sustainable imaginary of fashion is one which promotes multiple models of beauty, which originates from fashion’s own encounter with other visual cultures worldwide and its dialogue with a variety of fields and disciplines. These can act as a tool to build new social images of bodies, of their health and wellness, new models for actions and practices and for the nurturing of diversity.

Since fashion is a system of material production and consumption, and a system of signs, it involves differently skilled people. Their purposes, however, have often been divergent and too rarely overlapping. Media professionals, communication and marketing consultants, scholars, curators and other actors of the field of fashion develop their own discourses and expertise, but often with little cross over between them. Indeed, comparing and sharing experiences,
concepts and methodologies can be difficult. When these grow out of different national or regional traditions the dialogue can become even more challenging.

The conference Fashion Tales 2015 aims to address this challenge. It hopes to be a platform that facilitates encounters between, skills, knowledge, disciplines and cultures the better to nurture and develop the many products and practices of fashion across which one’s gaze and thought can navigate; those art exhibitions, catwalks, photo books, movies, magazines, ads, blogs, scientific essays and interviews which feed the fashion imaginary.

Call for papers

Recommended topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Fashion and imaginary: how fashion is represented in the fine arts, architecture, music, photography etc., and how these representations inform a sustainable imaginary.
2. Fashion languages and linguistic codes: how to develop a new language for writing and talking about fashion in traditional and digital media (magazines, newspapers, fashion films, blogs, fashion-themed TV series, advertising etc.).
3. Visual methodologies for fashion studies: how to use images and videos in fashion research and communication.
4. Body and beauty: how to represent contemporary bodies in a non-stereotyped way, respecting the differences and the richness of body shapes and ethnic and cultural traits against a standardized image of the body.
5. Fashion and sustainable consumption: how fashion can enhance responsible practices of consumption, including in non-fashion related industries, and act as a tool of identity construction.
6. Social responsibility: how to spread social responsibility through fashion, at different levels (design, production, retail, communication).
7. Fashion houses: how to study and narrate the living culture of the fashion houses, which is an important part of the cultural capital so secretly treasured and guarded by companies.
8. Fashion schools, museums, institutions: how fashion institutions contribute to shaping the sustainable imaginary of fashion.
9. Fashion blogging and social networks: how to promote new fashion communication patterns (top down, bottom up, peer to peer) through web 2.0 and 3.0. How to contribute through them to the construction of new fashion discourses.
10. Fashion trends: how to understand (and forecast) the evolution of society by reading the socio-cultural signals embodied by fashion codes.
11. Fashion and technology: how smart textiles can interact with human body and modify both design and consumption practices on a sustainable basis.
12. Digitalization and materiality: how new personal digital devices influence the construction offashion materiality and its representation.
13. Living fashion vs museum pieces: how to exhibit fashion in museums and in private and public collections without losing its essential dynamism.
14. World tales: how non-Western and postcolonial tales and practices can challenge the Western representation of fashion.
15. Resistant tales: how individuals and groups can produce or use alternative and counter-hegemonic fashion tales.

Deadline: If you wish to present a paper at the conference you will have to submit electronically, using the web-based submission form, an abstract of maximum 350 words and a 120 words profile of each author (including affiliation and, if desired, your two main publications) in English by October 20, 2014.

Files should include the following information in this order:
a) author(s) b) affiliation c) email address d) title of abstract e) body of abstract

Please use plain text and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline).

The committee is using EasyChair for the submission and the review process. To submit your abstract please first read carefully the abstract submission guidelines and then connect to FT2015 EASYCHAIR WEBSITE.

Click here for the original Call for Proposal.

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Domestic Affairs: Fall Recap

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It continues to be an exciting Fall for fashion exhibitions and events.

Closing soon is the Museum at FIT’s Exposed: A History of Lingerie exhibition on November 15.

Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love is still open at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, which doesn’t close until December 7.

If you missed your chance to see the Downton Abbey season four costumes at the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles, the costumes from seasons one through three are still on display at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware until January 4, 2015.

To lead the new events and exhibitions opening or happening in the next few months, 92y (92nd Y Street)‘s regular series of Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis on October 9 will feature Fern Mallis in conversation with Teri Agins.

In Milwaukee, the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee has opened an exhibition in time for the High Holy Days, Stitching History from the HolocaustSeptember 14, 2014 – February 28, 2015. The exhibition, which was featured in the New York Times recently, celebrates the memory and work of a dressmaker in Prague who could not make it out of the city in time. The opening image is one of Hedy Strnad’s designs on display in the exhibition and is taken from the exhibition website.

At the Des Moines Art Center, an exhibition examining the creativity and friendship between Andy Warhol and Roy Halston Frowick, Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede, opened on September 19, and will be up until January 18, 2015.

At The Metropolitan Museum of ArtKimono: A Modern History opened last week and will be up until January 4, 2015.  The exhibition examines the kimono from the eighteenth century to the present day. And of course, the Costume Institute will be opening its first autumn exhibition in seven years, Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire on October 21.

As previously mentioned, the Chicago History Museum will be opening Chicago Styled: Fashioning the Royal Mile on November 15.

And at the Denver Art Museum, Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Centurywill be opening on November 16.

If you have been to any of these exhibitions, or know of other exhibits and events worth sharing, feel free to share you experiences and suggestions in the comments. You can also email me your events for a future Domestic Affairs column.

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CFP: Critical Costume 2015

Helsinki, Finland, March 25-27, 2015
Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture

What does it mean to study costume in the 21st century?

Early theoretical discourse on costume (Hollander 1975/1993; Wilson 1985/2013; Gaines 1990) underlines the active interrelation between costume, body and character by arguing that “costume assimilates bodily signifiers into character, but body as a whole engulfs the dress” (Gaines 1990: 193).

In the 21st century, costume practices are now encountered through a multitude of different media: from film and theatre to virtual environments and mediated platforms. Mediation has become a prevalent principle of contemporary life and culture. Yet, the role of the costumed body and of how bodily practices are ‘read’ within and explored through these contexts remains a central question of 21st century artistic scholarship and practice.

Costume is still a relatively new and emerging research area. However, the study of costume has significantly grown in profile in recent years as a subject worthy of focused academic study, as evident within the growing number of international scholarly publications on costume and the costumed body in the last decade. Most recently, special issues of academic journals, such as Canadian Theatre Review (2012) and Scene (2014, forthcoming), have addressed the agency of costume in live performance as well as in film and other media. In that regard, Critical Costume 2015 is the second event conceived under the banner of Critical Costume, following a research project initiated by Dr. Rachel Hann and Sidsel Bech at Edge Hill University (UK) in 2013 (see www.criticalcostume.com). The overall aim of the Critical Costume events is to offer a platform for new academic thinking and design practices around the study of costume: with costume conceived as a means of critically interrogating the body in/as performance.

Therefore, Critical Costume 2015 invites contributions from scholars and practitioners that seek to ad-dress the implications of research processes, new technologies and media for the study and practice of costuming today and in history.

While we welcome all proposals on the subject of costume, Critical Costume 2015 is particularly interested in contributions from practitioners and scholars that investigate the following:

a) Methodologies for researching costume in live performance, film and media: this includes practice-based approaches, new technologies as a tool for costume research, as well as historical, sociological, ethnographic, anthropological or other cultural perspectives in studying costume practices.

b) Media and mediated costume, and new design practices: costume in media and media in costume; these include digital costume, wearable technology, interactivity, latest technology and special effects, and the dramaturgical implications of interpreting screen-mediated or projected costume.

c) Costume practices and performances that examine the performative qualities of material (whether physical or virtual), body, flesh, and design.

The event includes
- an exhibition of artistic work and artistic research,
- a conference comprised of academic presentations on current research in the field of costume and performance,
- Flash Talks – short presentations by artists, and
- film and media screenings.

In that regard, we invite all interested parties to submit their proposals stating which presentation format you wish to be considered for:

• 20min paper presentation (title and 300-word abstract)
• Flash Talk presentations (title and 200-word summary)
• Exhibition or Installation work – physical or mediated object (title and 200-word description)

Note: We welcome applications to present in more than one format.
The event language is English.

Deadline for the submission of proposals: 20 October 2014
Please submit your proposals online: HERE

Critical Costume 2015 is curated by Professor Sofia Pantouvaki and hosted by the Costume in Focus research group, based at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

Important dates:
Deadline for the submission of proposals: 20 October 2014
Notification of acceptance: 25 November 2014
Event dates: 25-27 March 2015

For more information, please contact: Prof. Sofia Pantouvaki, email: sofia.pantouvaki@aalto.fi
Twitter: @CriticalCostume

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On Teaching Fashion: Interactive Engagement Lab

 

I generally teach fashion design studio courses where my student number around 18-20. This is Ideal. I like to get to know my students, their process, their names and aspirations. In the fall each year I teach a foundation lecture course that focuses on Sustainability in the Fashion Industry. My classes are large and switching from the intimacy a studio course provides to a lecture format has always been extremely difficult and painful for me. With a large class it is hard to get to know each student.

If my goal is to assist each student personally in, essentially getting a job, this is a dubious task. I have felt so deflated in the past after teaching my large lecture courses; I have discussed this in previous posts. My fall lecture course is a three-hour lecture of 40 students. Three hours? Yes! I have to say, though, three weeks into teaching that it is going swimmingly. I have structured the course in a way that saves me from going completely crazed.

The second hour of my lecture is, what I call, an active engagement lab. The structure is experimental. I am providing hour-long demonstrations that are active in that students move around. The lectures are tactile and always involve a component of touch. Finally, I have had the students create a tumblr site to capture our weekly activities. Personally, I am delighted by the outcomes.

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My students are engaged and excited. The energy generated by the labs are contagious and influence the energy levels of student interaction before and after. The lab is a free hour of experimentation and I would like to share our activities here, maybe you will be inspired to embed a lab activity similar to mine in your own courses? Personally, the idea of the three-hour lecture is painful to me. As a learner I do not do well in a situation where I am sitting and listening to a professor. Our lab is a free space of experimentation, where I can try experimental activities. On either side of the lab I give a more traditional lecture with quizzes and activities so my student goal outcomes can be assessed.

The Lab

 

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Each week I offer an activity concurrent with our readings that tease out the material in a more hands on way. I teach a lecture on four pillars of sustainability so the content relates to the environmental, social and labor, consumption and body image aspects. During our first week, I challenged students to define sustainability.

They were then paired in groups to define the term in relation to the key areas listed above. During the second week, I handed out images of women roughly my students’ age. Below the image of the woman her name was printed. The students were given the task of uncovering her story, and then they were asked to reflect and imagine sitting and talking to the woman, on a plane, in an effort to inspire empathy.

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Hashra Katun

The exercise was called “an exercise in empathy”. In our third week we, after researching as a group “workplace ethics” developed a “fashion worker manifesto” geared at college fashion workers: fashion interns, design assistants, buying assistants and sales associates. I offered up a series of manifesto statements:

  1. I believe…..
  2. I want to live in a world where…
  3. If there is one thing I know
  4. The fourth was a wild card, some piece of lived advise……

You can find the student blog here. It is very much in progress and I cannot promise correct edits or spelling at this point in the semester. If you can take in the idea of a free form lab experience and how that might push your student to do or think differently, that is what I hope my post this week inspires.

The tumblr can be found here: http://210lab.tumblr.com/manifsto

Please look back during the semester as we will be adding to it. The site will be proofread and optimized in December.

Do you use free form activities or capture actions via blogs in your class. How do you do it? What are your outcomes? I would love to hear from you! Happy Teaching!

(all images sourced online)

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Domestic Affairs: Kimono for a Modern Age at LACMA

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I have eagerly anticipated the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) Kimono for a Modern Age exhibition for over a year. I started out as a Japanese language and culture scholar, and while my research focuses since I entered the field of dress history have drifted westward, I still have a love for and fascination with Japan and Korea. I had also become very interested in the type of kimono this exhibition explores – meisen — through a paper of my own delivered at the CSA Western Region symposium in 2012, which I reiterated in a post for Worn Through.

As mentioned on Unframed, the LACMA blog, the kimono in many ways symbolizes Japan itself. However, people have a very distinct impression of what kimono should look like — a stereotype, if you will — which this exhibition challenges and challenges well.

Instead of small, delicate patterns we are accustomed to in kimono fabric, meisen kimono popular between the end of the Meiji period (1868 – 1912), through the Taisho (1912 – 1926), and up to the post-war period of the Showa period (1926 – 1989) had large, bold patterns in bright colors. In my previous post, I discussed the methods of creating the most distinctive feature of meisen: the ikat-imitation effect of stencil-dyeing the warp and weft threads before the fabric is woven. The other distinguishing feature is that much of the meisen designs can be seen as borrowing from art and artistic movements in the West at the same time that Japan was influencing these same Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements, as well as modernizing their own traditions such as screen painting and calligraphy (examples below).

Now that we’ve gone over how meisen are unexpected, let’s examine this particular exhibition, which features of 30 kimono spanning the period from approximately 1920 to 1960.

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The exhibition is located in LACMA’s pavilion of Japanese Art, and is brilliantly laid out to take full advantage of the unusual exhibition space, the permanent Japanese art collection, and the other exhibition in the pavilion, Zuan: Japanese Design Books. The pavilion’s layout requires that visitors take an elevator to the top — where they can see both the permanent collection and Zuan off to the right — and then perambulate down various ramps to the display spaces on each floor to make their way to the basement and then up the elevator again to the ground floor. The space is designed to compliment Japanese art which traditionally was created with the intent of inspiring contemplation rather than intense emotion or awe. In many ways the pavilion also mimics an Indian stupa, which became the pagoda in the far east, encouraging walking in a circular or spiral pattern as a form of moving meditation. This enables the visitor to take in each of the ten or so displays of three kimono each, in a calm, contemplative manner similar to the way in which you are encouraged to appreciate the traditional arts in Japan.

It worked very, very well. The slow pace that the building’s ramps encouraged and the pause at each landing allowed me to see subtle similarities of patterning I otherwise might not have noticed had the display been set up in the usual single-floor manner of fashion and dress exhibitions. The open-plan layout, with clear, perspex railings so you could see through to the next level below you, also leant a sense of anticipation to the exhibition as you could see glimpses of kimono to come, and compare the patterning to those you were currently appreciating.

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What I appreciated most about this particular exhibition was the emphasis on re-interpretations of traditional Japanese art and kimono patterns in meisen, instead of the usual focus on cross-cultural references. For example, in the blue kimono above you could interpret the design as simply “polka dots” on a blue background, but thanks to the well-written tombstones that accompanied each kimono, it was revealed that multi-coloured dots had long been used in kimono as well as paintings to emphasize sun- or moon-dappled dew drops and had specific symbolism within Japanese art.

This is indeed how the exhibition starts, with three kimono featuring three very different uses of an enlarged, traditional arrow patterning. Each kimono is in a different color scheme, each reinterprets this symbol of samurai status in a new way, sometimes emphasizing it with palm fronds that were connected with sixteenth-century warlord, Oda Nobunaga, sometimes simply using the pattern in bold red, yellow, and gray colors. This also adds more layers to the meisen of both overt and subversive political messages.

For example, the “star-patterned” kimono at the beginning of the post also resembles the Japanese war flag of the rising sun with red rays. This kimono was made around 1940 and so while not as overt as some “propaganda” kimono of the same time period is a piece that might have been gotten away with post-war during the occupation. Another kimono from the 1950s or 1960s later on in the exhibition seems to depict a city scene at dawn, but while the sun isn’t visible the red rays associated with the war flag are seen beyond the mountains. Was this a quiet protest against American occupation, or a decree of loyalty even in the midst of defeat?

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I have often wondered if there were or weren’t political elements to meisen kimono. The height of their popularity coming in midst of patriotic and nationalistic fervor in the lead of to the second World War, while taking much of their inspiration from Western art movements is full of contradictions. On the one hand, the military industrial complex (bakufu) was very keen on adopting Western ways as a way of defeating both the West and Japan’s neighbors in battle. On the other hand, were the wearers of these kimono making political statements against war through their clothing? If so, is it not possible that those who had different political leanings might not do the same with their meisen?

I consider exhibitions that not only teach you something, but encourage you to re-evaluate perceptions of a particular art form and to ask questions to be the absolute best. Through the display, layout, grouping of various kimono, and informative tombstones, LACMA did just that.

They did not altogether ignore the Western influence, either. On many pieces, such as the third kimono featured in this review, they referenced not only the traditional art of screen paintings of landscapes, but the works of Impressionists and modern painters in the LACMA collection such as Matisse or Cezanne that might equally have influenced the design.

My only critique would be that all the kimono were displayed as you see in the images, none were mounted on mannequins. This however is a critique I have often of all kimono exhibitions, not LACMA in particular. I fully understand that this is the traditional method for displaying kimono in Japan, where they are admired as individual works of art in their own right; I also deeply admire LACMA’s conservation department turning to Japanese tradition when they were looking for new methods to store their kimono collection. However, since my personal fascination is with how such pieces were worn and who they were worn by, I would have loved to see at least one kimono dressed on a mannequin. Though I understand there might be conservation issues with displaying kimono this way.

This however, did not in any way diminish the exhibition. The display, use of the pavilion — even the touch of displaying one of the design books in Zuan on the pages the showed kimono designs — were magnificent. All of which combined to challenge perceptions of not only kimono, but perceptions I had about meisen kimono.

Kimono for a Modern Age will be on display in the pavilion for Japanese art at LACMA until October 12, 2014.

As always, if you have any thoughts, contributions, or want to notify me of an exhibition or events in your area please feel free to leave them in the comments, or to email me.

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CFP: Kentucky Foreign Language Conference

Kentucky Foreign Language Conference

Modern Bodies: Corporeality in Spanish Silver Age Literature and Culture

 April 23-25, 2015

The advent of modernity and the processes of modernization in early twentieth-century Spain, during the so-called Silver Age (1900-1936), radically changed the existing representations of the human body.  The advancement of science and technology, the rise and consolidation of disciplines like sexology, eugenics, and psychology, growing urbanization, the emergence of feminist debates, the appearance of new literary genres and movements, the development of mass culture, or the arrival of foreign fashion and ideas are some of the factors that contributed to the rethinking and reshaping of the body.

This panel seeks papers that analyze corporeality from different perspectives and disciplines. We welcome contributions on the following topics:

  • Naked bodies: nudism, naturism, erotic artifacts
  • Athletic bodies: sports and leisure
  • Sexed bodies: sexology, medicine, sex reform
  • Visual bodies: photography, film, art
  • Queer bodies
  • Technology and the body
  • The body and avant-garde literature and art
  • Racialized bodies

Please send a 250-word abstract in English or Spanish to Jeffrey Zamostny (jzamostn@westga.edu) and Itziar Rodríguez de Rivera (ir224@cornell.edu) before October 15, 2014.

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Seeking New Interns

Worn Through is still looking for 1 – 2 new interns to start as early as September or October and preferably work with us for the entire 2014-15 school year.

We are particularly looking for people who are comfortable with Twitter, academic journal articles, and those who want to help with finding and posting CFPs, interesting videos, doing research with contributors, and other tidbits our readers would enjoy.

We need someone who checks email daily and can be fairly quick in response time, although this is the type of position where you can do many of your tasks in chunks (such as pre-posting weeks’ worth of CFPs). Therefore we can work with your workplace or school schedule as long as you are a good email communicator. The ideal candidates are involved in the research/academic/history & culture side of apparel studies and want to continue in those fields. Although someone in marketing/trend research or similar may be great too.

Worn Through is a volunteer network of individuals who work as thriving museums, schools and doing independent research projects of all sorts, so this is a strong networking and professional experience opportunity for a student or new graduate. Many of our interns move onto nice jobs and/or become contributors here at Worn Through. Internships are unpaid, however we have worked it out with schools in the past to do any paperwork needed to get credit if that is an option for you. Also note we have 30-40,000 hits per month and almost 1000 Facebook fans so your efforts will be visible to the public and your hard work recognized. Also upon a strong job we are happy to write letters of recommendation.

Please email Dr. Monica Sklar with your CV and brief cover letter by September 30. Goal start date is October 15, October 31 at the latest.

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A Postcard from Abroad: Autumnal Activities in London

This is the time of year when academic life goes up a gear as we begin our teaching and learning programmes, embrace a new cohort of students and welcome back the older ones.  It is also a time of great pressure and the weight of the so many ‘to do’ lists can become unbearable! So, between running around like a maniac and wanting to stick my head in the ground, I am taking this opportunity to mention some autumn activities worth noting.

There would seem to be a buzz for f20th century fashion photography exhibitions this winter as we see two retrospectives open at the V&A and Somerset House.  The former features Horst. The Photographer of Style and is on until 4 January.  Featuring many unseen prints and restored colour photographs, the exhibition explores the prolific work of Horst P. Horst, the photographer whose work redefined fashion photography during the 1930s and 1940s.   Covering a later period but no less esteemed fashion photographer, Somerset House hosts Guy Bourdin: Image Maker from 27 November until 15 March 2015.  Showing over 100 works, spanning his 40 year long career, the exhibition is curated by Alistair O’Neill with Shelly Verthime and will also include the entire ‘Walking Legs’ series, his iconic campaign commissioned by Charles Jourdan in 1979 (and from which the above image is taken from).

An intriguing exhibition at Sotherbys S/2 Gallery entitled Stitched Up caught my eye and is open until the end of September. This small display of pieces by contemporary artists working in the medium of textiles claims to show the historical relationship between contemporary art and textiles since the 1980s as well as shine a torch on the breadth of practices seen today.  I think this is worth a visit in order to see how textiles as an artistic medium has developed in the last 30 years, something that has yet to be done on a larger scale in the bigger design museums.

Staying with the art and fashion theme, I noticed there is an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery featuring a ‘psychological’ portrait of Coco Chanel by Sam Taylor-Wood, the director of the much hyped film Fifty Shades of Grey and Turner Prize nominee.  Taylor-Wood presents 34 photographs that capture the interior of Chanel’s private apartment in Paris, which has been preserved since her death over 40 years ago.  The exhibition, called Second Floor, has been curated to coincide with London Fashion Week.

I’m excited to see an exhibition on dress and identity starting soon at the Design MuseumWomen Fashion Power opens on the 29 October until 26 April 2015 and offers us insights into how influential women have used dress to define and embellish their status.  Featuring 25 women and spanning over 150 years of fashion history, the exhibition features outfits and personal style stories from figures involved in fashion and music to politics and economics.

This also reminds me of a new book by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton which focuses on how women choose to dress as an integral aspect of their daily lived livesWomen in Clothes  seems to promote itself as a philosophical ponderance on what it means to get dressed, presented as a stream of dialogues rather than a set of rules.  I have yet to read it but understand that this is a take on fashion and dress that draws upon the conversations started in publications such as Worn Magazine, where clothes are rarely about fashion and almost always about stories relating to who we were, are and could be.   If you have read the book, it would be great to hear from you.  I am very interested to know what you think about this emerging interest in clothes as identity narratives; in the ‘getting dressed’ process might offer fashion and dress scholars new material to consider and reflect upon.

Lastly, I am excited to say that later this week I will visit the V&A’s Clothworkers Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion for the first time – it’s taken me a year to get an appointment!  I hope to share my experience at a later date but for now, it’s back to crazy running around!

 

Photo credit: Guy Bourdin, Charles Jourdan advertisement (1979) Accessed at http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/photography/picture-galleries/2010/august/16/fashion-photography-guy-bourdin/?idx=12&idx=12

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