This is the time when everyone starts to go a little wild with holiday shopping on the brain, often not knowing what to buy. Perhaps your list has a fellow fashion-minded friend or colleague, or maybe someone who has always had an interest in subculture? You could consider picking up my book Punk Style!
It features chapters on history, cultural analysis, merchandising, and identity, with interviews from Tish & Snooky, Marco Pirroni, Roger Burton from the Contemporary Wardrobe, and many self identified punks who took the time to speak at length regrading their experiences with the style. Also there are numerous high quality photos of the garments and accessories individually and in use.
Click here to read find a snippet from the book and give it a try.
My publisher Bloomsbury has generously provided a coupon code for Worn Through readers and friends and family. Use the code “PunkHolidays” on Bloomsbury.com and get 15%off thru January 1, 2015. It comes as paperback, hardcover, and e-book.
I just received an exciting invitation for academics to collaborate with a London based radio station on broadcasting their research in a range of creative formats. This is a great opportunity for fashion and dress researchers to produce a speech based programme about their work, supported by an experienced team of broadcast producers.
Modulations is the brainchild of Resonance FM, a London based radio station focused on the arts since 2002, and The Arts & Culture Unit, a media and communications agency dedicated to the dissemination of research and practice in the arts, humanities and social sciences. The idea is to produce a range of programmes, from discussion shows to documentaries, in order to engage new audiences with current research. How exciting to be able to share your research interests in a creative way but also help raise the profile of fashion and dress research amongst a diverse range of listeners!
For this initial round, Modulations are seeking out researchers based in London and the South East with the hope of extending the geographical field in later rounds. They are particularly interested to hear from researchers with little experience in broadcast, who are enthusiastic to collaborate and whose research makes use of a range of media forms and/or oral histories. The project will enable you to learn about broadcast media and production, resulting in both a programme and a podcast that will become part of Resonance’s archive (which I strongly recommend you peruse)
This couldn’t be a more perfect project for a fashion and dress researcher who is looking to bring their subject to life in new ways and wants to extend her/his communication skills.
The deadline is 7 December 2014; you need to submit a 400 word outline and rationale which, with such a low word count, means entry will be highly competitive. If successful, you will start production in January 2015 and the first programmes will be broadcast in Spring 2015.
For further details, you can either go straight to the Modulations website or contact Juliette Kristensen at The Arts & Culture Unit by emailing email@example.com
Image credit: https://twitter.com/resonancefm
Author, Journalist, and Adventurer Jacki Lyden has started a new project entitled The Seams. A team with experience from NPR and a passion for clothes plans to start a radio show/podcast discussing history and cultural stories pertaining to fashion.
It’s a fun new project we at Worn Through are supporting and we would encourage you to as well.
Consider donating to their Kickstarter campaign to help get this off the ground! It runs through Dec. 6, 2014.
Textual Fashion: Representing Fashion and Clothing in Word and Image
3-day international conference at the University of Brighton
July 8-10, 2015
Call for Papers
Since 1990, a critical body of work by scholars in Britain, Europe and America, including Jane Gaines, Caroline Evans and Clair Hughes, has underscored the key role that verbal and visual representations of fashion and clothing have in understanding issues such as period style, taste and human identities. Building on their achievement, this event will foreground international cutting-edge research in what Roland Barthes terms ‘l’écriture’, that is the ways that fashion and dress are mediated and translated into word and image in literature, journalism, memoirs and correspondence, photography, illustration, film, television, advertising, music video, and online through websites and blogs.
(i) Abstracts of between 250 and 300 words for individual papers from scholars working on any of the above areas from any disciplinary, interdisciplinary or methodological perspective, in any country and at any historical period.
(ii) Abstracts of up to 1000 words for panels with 3-4 speakers dealing with a particular theme, method, source or archive, in any country and at any historical period.
We welcome contributions dealing with non-anglophone cultures in particular, and from early-career (including postgraduate) and established researchers alike.
The deadline for submitting abstracts for peer review is January 19, 2015 and we anticipate confirming those we wish to include by March 2, 2015.
If you are interested, please email your abstract for consideration to:
Paul Jobling (key areas: photography, film, television, advertising, music video, websites). P.Jobling@brighton.ac.uk
Charlotte Nicklas (key areas: literature, journalism, memoirs and correspondence, illustration and blogging). C.Nicklas@brighton.ac.uk
This week’s column examines the department store as a fashion spectacle. These extravagant institutions saw their heyday in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, when it was not unusual for the multi-level buildings to sell pianos and airplanes along with cosmetics and household goods. Contemporary luxury emporiums, like Saks and Bergdorf’s, create holiday displays each year that are almost exclusively fashion-focused–on Friday, Barneys Madison Avenue unveiled windows as a stage for Baz Luhrmann-directed ice dancers and opera singers, wearing costumes by Academy Award-winning designer Catherine Martin. Three relevant articles are linked below. Our first selection examines a 1991 holiday exhibition of Zandra Rhodes dresses at Chicago’s Marshall Fields; the second studies the partnership between Madeleine Vionnet and the Galeries Lafayette department store; the third looks at the effect of mirrors on nineteenth-century female shoppers. Can department store displays ever be considered on par with runway, theater, or exhibition? Are there particular stores you hope to visit over the holidays? We’d love to read your comments.
1. DeLong, M., Casto, M., McKinney, M., Ramaswamy, H., Thoreson, N., and Min, S. (2014). Curating Cinderella: A holiday extravaganza at Marshall Field’s. Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, 2(1), 45-63.
This article explores how a department store holiday extravaganza contributed towards the dialogue between fashion, museums and popular culture and the ways in which holiday displays pushed the boundaries of costume conception and exhibition. Key components of Marshall Field’s 1991 holiday spectacle were the Cinderella gowns presented as a uniquely curated costume ‘exhibition’ highlighting imaginative designs of Zandra Rhodes. The commission of sixteen Rhodes fairy tale dresses for Marshall Field’s annual holiday display epitomizes the wonder created for the visitor. Combined with the traditions of the season, the Cinderella dresses encouraged make believe and the idea that dreams really do come true. The opportunity for the public to see the holiday designs of Zandra Rhodes was a move beyond consumerism towards theatre and artistic vision, and represented a chance for visitors to experience a fairy tale spectacle on Chicago’s State Street. – Full Article Abstract
2. Champsaur, F.B. (2012). Madeleine Vionnet and Galeries Lafayette: The unlikely marriage of a Parisian couture house and a French department store 1922–40. Business History, 54(1), 48–66.
In the past, fashion history has traditionally produced monographs on talented designers emphasizing the creativity of the luxury couture business and the tastes of its elite clientele. This case study, based on the unpublished records of Galeries Lafayette, offers a balanced and decompartmentalized interpretation of relationships among the players in the fashion system. Fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet never considered herself an artist and was well aware of the commercial aspects of the business, while the owner of Galeries Lafayette, Théophile Bader, tried to generate corporate synergy between the couture house and the department store. The examination of the partnership between Vionnet and Bader raises important questions, not only about counterfeiting but also about the transfer of creativity from designers to manufacturers. – Full Article Abstract
3. Carlson, E. (2012). Dazzling and Deceiving: Reflections in the nineteenth-century department store. Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation, 28(2), 117-137.
The seemingly ubiquitous object, the mirror, simultaneously advertised new commercial goods and shaped subjectivity in the late nineteenth-century department store. Mirrors could be found throughout the store, serving simultaneously as entertainment, advertisements, and monitoring devices. This new reflective environment implicated the female consumer in unexpected and contradictory ways, thereby complicating an understanding of the flâneuse. I show how, on one hand, mirrored interiors worked to manipulate women by reflecting consumers into the displays, and encouraging them to buy while simultaneously monitoring their shopping. On the other hand, I suggest ways in which these mirrored spaces had unintentionally liberating effects by expanding the consumer’s viewing position and creating more mobile social identities that temporarily documented her within the expensive merchandise and décor of the store. – Full Article Abstract
Image credit: Goldstein Museum of Design Blog
In the second half of the eighteenth and the early nineteenth century, various countries in the Western world underwent both revolutions and reforms that are especially noteworthy for dress history. The French Revolution and its effects on the clothing of the upper class is well documented, a touchstone for the concepts of protest dress, trickle-up fashion, political fashion, and more. Although I couldn’t find a caption for the cover image (just a copyright note), the red phrygian cap brings to mind that bloody exercise, and will be the most familiar case of nationalism and revolution for most readers.
One of the real strengths of Alexander Maxwell‘s new book, Patriots Against Fashion: Clothing and Nationalism in Europe’s Age of Revolutions, however, is his insistence on including historical examples from a wide range of Western countries. Newspaper clippings from Madrid, Polish poetry, Latvian law, and first-person Turkish accounts are integrated seamlessly with the more common French and German fashion magazines and British colonial writing. As he states in his introduction, the book “refuses to conflate the history of ‘Europe’ with the history of its two greatest powers.” (5)
The academic tone and few illustrations may turn readers off, and the amount of information here can be a bit stunning. Maxwell layers on his primary source examples, at times a little thick. But one can hardly complain about extensive and inclusive research like that which Maxwell offers in this book.
From “Patriots Against Fashion” by Alexander Maxwell. Palgrave, 2014.
Although a pile of books have been published on fashion and revolution, they have often focused on one or two countries (or nations), providing an in-depth study. Patriots Against Fashion offers instead a broad comparative study of clothing and nationalism. Revolution is often an attempt to redefine a nation, to streamline, democratize, renew–for the love of a place. Citizens strive–and sometimes give their lives–for what they see as a better version of the country or nation that they love. Who defines nationalism, and what does it mean to be Latvian, for example? How is that expressed through clothing, and could it be improved with a national costume?
Clothing is visual and immediate; your appearance on the street defines your position, real or imagined, directly to your fellow walkers, shoppers, or protesters. In the second half of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth, fashion was generally considered a feminine vice, shallow and seductive. Male figures of power, be they doctors or politicians, offered not only critical views of fashion, but also passed laws regulating this and forbidding that. One solution to the “problem” of fashion was national dress, separate for women and men. The men’s versions may have included variations for fancy occasions or military service, depending on the country, but Maxwell focuses on the “uniform,” an everyday outfit worn by “all members of the nation.” The (male) leaders of various countries had many reasons for imposing–or suggesting–a national costume, and there were a range of expectations regarding how these costumes would be manufactured, paid for, and distributed. Was the monarch/government to impose it, or “civil society” to “spontaneously adopt” the costume? Would it be based on a sort of formal-military combination, or would it find its roots in regional folk dress?
From “Patriots Against Fashion” by Alexander Maxwell. Palgrave, 2014.
Theoretically a democratic action, Maxwell describes how national dress was actually discriminatory, as various groups were forbidden from wearing the proposed national dress; this echoes nationalism’s darker, racist tendencies.
The author leads us through a logical and well-organized set of chapters, setting up the general attitudes toward fashion in the period, with a focus on anti-fashion in all its iterations. He gives many contemporary examples of fashion’s popular association with a greedy elite and unnecessary waste, both monetary and material. He describes reactions against the “tyranny” of fashion, including the most striking (and well-documented): sumptuary laws.
Maxwell then offers case studies for four different “types” of national uniforms proposed or instituted by various nations: Absolutist, Democratic, Minimal, and Folk Costumes. Absolutist come from monarchs and other absolute leaders, including Gustaf III’s unpopular national Swedish dress. Democratic dress is, as the name suggests, for the people and by the people. Here, Maxwell uses the French Revolution as the prime example, while noting that democratic national dress was a topic of discussion in Germany and America before the revolution in France.
Despite its theoretical practicality and universality, national dress would have been a radical move in many countries, and the realities of putting them into practice were essentially insurmountable. Gustaf III here in Sweden actually made his vision a reality, if for a short period of time. But a full outfit wasn’t necessary to show one’s national pride or political affiliation, and perhaps the most popular versions of “national dress” were simple items of clothing or accessories that spoke volumes. Maxwell gives headwear examples, citing the cockade, the bonnet rouge, and the fez. Can these be considered uniforms? As objects or items of clothing they were relatively uniform, but they were worn with citizens’ regular outfits, by both sexes in some cases, and could cross social lines. Here, they are offered as “minimal national uniforms,” no less meaningful than a whole outfit. Elective and powerful, the hats Maxwell describes were wildly popular patriotic symbols in ways we can only imagine now.
The national costume’s nostalgic turn is described in his chapter on folk costume as national dress, from Welsh national costume to Greek foustanela. He addresses the very important–and very current–concept of “buying local.” Even if a national costume failed to gain popularity, buying goods and dress-related services made in your country was considered very patriotic. The whimsy of fashion could be swayed to meet the needs of nations undergoing growing pains. For example, this excellent quotation about Hungarian fashion, written by a British observer in Budapest 1869 and cited by Maxwell:
To subscribe to a journal of a fashions, written in the Hungarian language, is spoken as an act of patriotism. All this seems to us very absurd, but from the standpoint of the Hungarians themselves it is quite intelligible. The most mindless and frivolous of women, even if she have neither husband nor child, has still some influence in society. (199)
That statement is in turn quite absurd to modern readers, but probably intelligible to those (men) reading it in the mid-nineteenth century. Maxwell follows through to the twentieth century in his final chapter on haute couture and textiles, an extension of the buy local-patriotism discussed in the former.
With its extensive research and truly European outlook, this book is a must-read for those interested in the time period. It would be an excellent complement to the more specialized works on specific revolutions, and is rich with primary-source quotations and citations to inspire a rich term paper. With all of his primary source research, I imagine Maxwell must have come across a great number of images, and I wish there were more included here. It would have been exciting to be able to make a visual comparison across countries to accompany his written comparison; maybe that is a different book, or a future project.
Compact, academic, and thoughtful, this book is definitely aimed toward those with more than a passing interest in the subject. In fact, he suggests that this is not a fashion history book at all, but instead a contribution to the study of nationalism. It is too a fashion history book, I argue, and a much more nuanced and well-researched one than many intentionally fashion-based history books I’ve read.
Lead Image: Cover of Patriots Against Fashion: Clothing and Nationalism in Europe’s Age of Revolutions by Alexander Maxwell (Palgrave, 2014).
Find more book reviews on Worn Through here!
**I feel like this is way skewed toward France and England, if you have good non-London, non-Paris suggestions please leave them in the comments section and I’ll add them here!**
Condra, Jill. Encyclopedia of National Dress: traditional clothing around the world. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013.
Jones, Jennifer. Sexing la Mode: Gender, Fashion, and Commercial Culture in Old Regime France. Oxford, UK: Bloomsbury Academic, 2004.
Purdy, Daniel. The Tyranny of Elegance: Consumer Cosmopolitanism in the Era of Goethe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
Roche, Daniel. Jean Birell, trans. The Culture of Clothing: Dress and Fashion in the ‘Ancien Régime.’ Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Starobinski, Jean and the Kyoto Costume Institute. Revolution in Fashion: European Clotthing 1715-1815. New York: Abbeville Press, 1989.
Weber, Caroline. Queen of Fashion: what Marie Antoinette wore to the Revolution. New York: H. Holt, 2006.
Wrigley, Richard. Politics of Appearances: representations of dress in Revolutionary France. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic, 2002.
Worn Through is looking for educators teaching fashion at the university level to discuss their experiences for our “On Teaching Fashion” column.
It’s monthly or bi-weekly on Fridays alternating with another contributor. Posts can be pre-programmed and do not need to be written on Fridays. Preferably someone who is full time or teaches multiple courses regularly in order to have a great deal to discuss. The column is geared toward other educators to promote discussion of tips, anecdotes, and progressions in the field.
Email me if interested. Ideal start date Jan 1.
Among the many things that I am preparing for with the approach of the holiday season is how I’m going to work various fashion exhibitions into my schedule.
Obviously, those exhibitions outside of California are impossible for me, but hopefully they will be possible for many of you.
Most exciting for next week is Fern Mallis’s conversation with Valentino at 92Y in New York City. Tickets are currently sold out, but there is a wait list available for Mallis’s November 18 program with the legendary designer. This is in addition to the Death Becomes Her having opened in the last couple weeks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Jill discussed her visit to the exhibition in her post, yesterday), and Killer Heels still open at the Brooklyn Museum.At the Museum at FIT, while Exposed: A History of Lingerie is closing, their special exhibition, Dance & Fashion will remain open until January 3.
As I was informed by Jon in a comment on my last exhibition round up, there is another exciting exhibition on the east coast examining Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Cartier collection at the Hillwood Estate. Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems has been open since June, but will not close until December 31.
In the Midwest, Chicago Styled: Fashioning the Magnificent Mileopens November 15 at the Chicago History Museum. It looks to be a truly fascinating exploration of the local fashion industry and the people who both worked in and utilized it, based upon the amazing blogposts that have led up to the exhibition’s opening.
In Des Moines, Halston & Warhol: Silver & Suede will be open at the Des Moines Art Center until January 18.
Here in California, Hollywood Costumeopened a month ago and will be up until March just across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Also in Los Angeles, the Fowler Museum at UCLA has three textile exhibitions on display: Bearing Witness: Embroidery as History in Post-Apartheid South Africaup through December 7; Textiles of Timor: Island in the Woven Sea up through January 4; and Yards of Style: African-Print Cloths of Ghanaopen through December 14.
In San Francisco, not directly related to fashion — but indirectly since his V magazine photo shoot — Ai Weiwei’s @Largeis currently on display on Alcatraz Island; at the de Young Museum, Keith Haring: The Political Line while not actually involving clothing or textiles offers visitors a chance to see some of the original drawings used by Vivienne Westwood in her 1983 collaboration with the artist. At the Legion of Honor, Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country Houseis open until January 18. I will be writing my review of it in early December.
Opening January 31 at the de Young is Embodiment: Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpturewhich will be a wonderful opportunity to explore bodily depiction from approximately 110 different cultural groups. It may be a wee bit early to get excited about March openings, but I must confess I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland opening on March 7 and featuring not only Henry Raeburn’s Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, but his portrait of Colonel Alastair Ranaldson Macdonell of Glengarry in full Scottish military regalia which inspired my master’s ‘virtual exhibition’ on tartan and Scottish dress. Even more exciting is the arrival of High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Legion of Honor on March 14.
What exhibitions are you making time for this winter? Are there any exhibitions you want to share with Worn Through readers? If so, feel free to either email me or to share your thoughts in the comments!
Opening image from the website for Hillwood’s Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gem
Last month I was able to take a long overdue vacation and view many wonderful exhibitions along the way, as well as attend and present at the 4th annual Fashion Now & Then conference at LIM College, which I’ll discuss in next month’s post.
One thread that that ran through my gallery observations was a heightened awareness of sound incorporated into the exhibition experience. Obviously, the visual sense is privileged in the gallery setting–both for object presentation and preservation. Touch is a strong urge among gallery goers–especially when sumptuous fabrics or iconic garments are involved–and this audience longing for a real, tangible connection with the object is often overlooked, and of course must be controlled for conservation reasons. There have been some inventive ways to incorporate the sense of touch into exhibition experiences, such as the inclusion of half-scale, touchable models of Charles James gowns at the Charles James: Genius Reconstructed exhibition at the Chicago History Museum in 2011.
Sound can also be an effective tool in enriching sensory experience, establishing context, and creating a certain mood. Upon my visit to Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I became very aware of the use of sound, which suffused and spilled over beyond the exhibition space. Before a single ensemble was glimpsed, the strains of Gabriel Faure’s Requiem, Op. 48 could be heard as one descended the steps into the galleries. Only the exhibition title was in view at this stage, placed in a cameo shape encroached upon by a painted weeping willow, referencing both mourning jewelry and embroidered memorial paintings of the 19th century.
Death Becomes Her exhibition entrance
Photo by the author
The music did not detract from the setting, but added to the physical and metaphorical weight of the clothing that women (and men, also represented through a few examples) wore through the mandatory stages of mourning. The music also seemed to affect the audience mood and conversation. People spoke in hushed tones or not at all, as though they were attending a funeral or other somber memorial event. (I should say that I attended the exhibition in the middle of the week, when there were less crowds than on the weekend—with a crowded gallery, the music may be muted and not have the same effect).
Another interesting use of sound in the galleries could be found in the exhibition, Kimono: A Modern History, also at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A fountain by Isamu Noguchi could be heard near a display of 19th century fireman’s jackets–fascinating garments that I did not expect to see in an exhibition on kimono. The flowing water certainly evoked the calm of the Japanese home, palace, or garden where kimono were worn, but could also be a tangibly audible reference to the function and use of the fireman’s jacket. Before fighting a fire, the jacket would be turned inside out with the decorated side against the body, and would then be soaked in water for added protection.
Installation view of 19th century fireman’s jackets, Kimono: A Modern History
Photo by the author
A museum that may seem an unlikely subject in a discussion of costume exhibitions is the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but it is filled with numerous textile-based items--uniforms and other fascinating artifacts of the luminaries of baseball’s past.
Installation view of women’s 1940s uniforms,
National Baseball Hall of Fame
Photo by the author
Filling the galleries were audio interviews with players, music that may have been heard during the early 19th century days of the game or from the Caribbean islands from which so many great players have hailed. These auditory pieces added by the museum were augmented by the lively banter of the audience themselves–reminiscenes of games past, memories of experiences in the stadium, the sound of “whooaaa”s by young baseball fans in awe. This in itself is also part of the exhibition experience.
How have you experienced sound in an exhibition? Are there creative ways you have heard it used?
A symposium on the historical and contemporary representation of cultural and creative professions
Research Department, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, March 27, 2015
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Agnès Rocamora
The labour market is increasingly made up of those working in the creative professions of fashion, art, design and advertising, but what does it mean to be defined and represented as a ‘creative professional’? From artist to curator; couturier to fashion intern; designer to art director; architect to design student; stylist to blogger; these professional identities can be viewed as social practices, enacted and performed through media, which includes the fashion press, lifestyle magazines, daily news, television, film, and the internet. Here social, cultural and professional identities are co-constructed. These professions and their professionals are both products of, and productive in meanings and values that inform our understanding and knowledge of culture, in both the past and present. They also vary in their representation according to different levels of expertise and career status.
Focusing on the representation of cultural and creative professions, Fashioning Professionals asks the following questions: How have photography and media worked to define and represent creative labour in particular ways? How have individuals represented and defined themselves as professionals in different fields of culture? How do different aspects of cultural identity, such as gender, class and ethnicity, inform these representations? How do different methodologies and disciplinary approaches enrich the study of cultural and creative professions? How can histories and theories of fashion and design contribute to a wider reading and understanding of the professions?
We welcome papers from a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives that respond to and reflect upon these questions in relation to the following cultural sectors and their professions:
Proposals: If you wish to present a paper, please submit a 250 word abstract in Word format to firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstracts are to include the following information:
- Email Address(es)
- Title of Abstract
- Body of Abstract
Deadline for Submissions: Monday January 5, 2015
Acceptance Confirmation: Monday January 26, 2015
Please note that there will be a £10 fee for attending the symposium, which will cover lunch, tea and coffees. Registration for the symposium will open in February 2015.
Organising Chairs: Dr. Leah Armstrong and Dr. Felice McDowell
Email address: email@example.com
Symposium blog: www.fashioningprofessionals.org