Book Review: Costume: Performing Identities Through Dress

When I was a teenager, I loved to try on new personas with clothes, makeup, and hair, imagining myself to be more glamorous and cool than I really was. During a particular period I was enamored with 1960s London and the stylized mod and futuristic looks that prevailed in the fashion magazines, films, and shop windows of the time. As I emerged from my room …

Book Reviews preview: Transformations

Between personal matters and a looming deadline, Book Reviews is on hiatus this month. Coming next month will be a review of a study that is revealing itself as an engaging and in-depth look at the power of clothing to transform the wearer.  While this may not seem like a new, revelatory statement, Pravina Shukla’s book Costume: Performing Identities Through Dress argues forth the thesis …

Book Review: Young Originals

It’s been several generations since the fashionable ideal was a woman in her 30s or 40s (the ubiquity of model Lisa Fonssagrives Penn in the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s, for example), so it may be slightly difficult for many readers to imagine or recall a time when young adults in their teenage years were awkward outliers of the fashion world. …

Book Reviews: Art + Fashion

This is the time of year that we turn our attentions towards beautifully packaged surprises and time with family and friends.  The generous size, plethora of lush color photographs, and lively, eye-catching graphic design of E.P. Cutler’s and Julien Tomasello’s Art + Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons are tailor-made for holiday excess and communal viewing.  The overall tone is exuberant and infectious, and feels like …

Museum Life: Making Fashion Underground

While in New York I was able to visit Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch at the Museum at FIT, which just closed this past weekend.  I was completely blown away by the critical mass of beautifully presented, fantastic fashion in the ambiance of a recreated clubland environment. The music, lights, and clothing in the galleries transported me back to my 12-year old self, when I …

Book Reviews: Forbidden Fashion

Around 1564 there were in Venice over 30 convents and monasteries, inhabited by 2,107 nuns. Isabella Campagnol begins her absorbing study, Forbidden Fashion: Invisible Luxuries in Early Venetian Convents, with a startling statistic. These numbers, coupled with firsthand accounts of the convent population, throw into stark relief the reason for her emphasis on fashionable clothing and accessories in Venetian convents from the 16th through 18th …

Museum Life: Film costume onscreen, on the street, and in the museum

Last month I was fortunate to be able to attend and participate in New York University’s second annual conference on film costume, “Film Costume / Rendering Realities”, a collaboration between the Costume Studies and Film Studies departments.  This one-day event brought together film costume scholars, designers, directors, students, and museum, library, and auction professionals to talk about the power of costume and clothing both on and …

Book Reviews: Sustainable Fashion

“Once a revered commodity, fashion is now all too often considered disposable.” (p. xvi) Jennifer Farley Gordon and Colleen Hill’s Sustainable Fashion: Past, Present and Future is a book that delivers to fashion-loving consumers everywhere a clearly written, concise, and well-researched reminder that our current system of clothing production and consumption is dangerously broken.  Sustainable Fashion makes abundantly clear, chapter after chapter, that there are no …

Museum Life: The museum and shopping

It is nearly impossible to separate a visitor’s personal tastes and perceptions from an exhibition narrative of costume or dress. This is how many visitors connect with clothing on display, which may seem either very familiar (a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, for example), or completely foreign to our contemporary bodies (an 18th century robe à la française). Shopping and commerce are already very much a part …

Book Reviews: Fashion and Jazz

While it is no surprise to Worn Through readers that dress can play an important, carefully considered role in very serious endeavors such as conflict and revolution, it may be unexpected for non-fashion-interested persons to learn that fashion was (and arguably remains) a complex, meaning-charged tool in the fight for civil rights and social justice. Alphonso D. McClendon’s Fashion and Jazz: Dress, Identity and Subcultural …

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Available now: Punk Style by Worn Through founder, Monica Sklar, PhD. Find it at : Amazon.com, Powell's Books, or a bookseller near you.