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MA Documenting Fashion Holiday Wish Lists

 

It’s December and Holiday goodies are on our mind. We decided to come up with a dress-themed holiday wishlist where each of us dreamed up a fantasy gift and a realistic gift to ask Santa for this year. Check out our answers below!

Dr. Rebecca Arnold

Fantasy: I would very much like a Madeleine Vionnet dress – I don’t mind which, but what a dream…

Realistic: I would like the new Richard Avedon biography – Avedon: Something Personal, by Norma Stevens & Steven M L Aronson. I love his work and would enjoy reading more about his life.

Niall Billings

Fantasy: Myrtle Snow’s leather pleated gloves by Gaspar Gloves but in black

Realistic: Fetishism in Fashion by Lidewij Edelkoort

Olivia Chuba

Fantasy: Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy designed dress for the 1954 film Sabrina is my dream gift. This is the dress that made me fall in love with fashion, film, and of course Audrey Hepburn!

Reality: My more practical wish list gift is the exhibition catalogue from the V&A’s wonderful exhibition, Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. It was a beautiful show and I would love to be able to have the catalogue to flip through whenever I want!

Abby Fogle

Fantasy: As the self-proclaimed biggest fan of the Met’s Costume Institute, I would want an invitation to this year’s Met Gala.

Reality: Keeping with my Met Gala theme, I am asking for last year’s exhibition catalog Rei Kawakubo/Commes des Garcons: Art of the In-between.

Destinee Forbes

Fantasy: Custom Gold Grillz. I have been looking to improve my dental bling aesthetic.

Reality: Match Stix Trio in Deep from Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. Ready to work on my #fentyface!

Grace Lee

Fantasy: A Paco Rabanne 1967 mini disc-dress, altered slightly to be long enough for my tall self to wear — perfect for New Year’s Eve!

Reality: A DSLR camera, so I can take better quality abstract pictures of my surroundings.

Lily Mu

Fantasy: Live as Princess Galitzine (fashion designer, model, and WW2 Codebreaker) for a week, preferably, when she created her famous palazzo pyjamas. Princess Irene Galitzine was a WW2 codebreaker, Terence Rattigan muse, Dior model, actress, M&S advisor, TV presenter, Russian princess, and fashion designer, whose most renowned creation was the “palazzo pyjama” suit. Because why not? Sounds exciting doesn’t it?

Reality: An original Kenneth Paul Block illustration, in monochrome framing. I Absolutely love his beautiful and gestural fashion illustrations that are energised and full of movement.

Arielle Murphy

Fantasy: Issey Miyake’s Bao Bao tote is on my dream Christmas wish list. The metallic prisms are attached to a mesh setting, making it is semi-structured—so playful and fun!

Reality: What I really need, though, are more sweaters. It has been a running joke throughout this term that I moved to London with only two jumpers. A cashmere turtleneck would be the perfect winter addition to my California wardrobe.

Nelleke Honcoop

Fantasy: For this year’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities back in the Netherlands, I would love to wear this gorgeously green, printed silk evening dress made in 1938–1939 by Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906–1978). Its fabric was designed by the artist and illustrator Jean Cocteau (1889–1963). The masks in the print are portraits of the artist and his love, the young actor Jean Marais. The dress is currently on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Fashion, Room 40). The colour and print of this dress are stunning, and I adore its construction, with the crossover bodice with keyhole in the front and the slight V-shaped back. A girl can dream, right?

Reality: While writing an essay on Simplicity’s paper patterns, I became obsessed with a sewing pattern designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, which was brought to the public by the American chewing gum company Wrigley to promote their ‘Double Mint Chewing Gum’. In an advertisement in the March 1938 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Hollywood actress Anita Louise modelled the ‘Schiaparelli Double Mint Gum Dress’ made with Simplicity Pattern no. 2740, which could be purchased at the time for $0.15. I would absolutely love to have this pattern in size 16 to create my own Schiaparelli.

Dress Talks: Crossing Boundaries: Dress and Exclusion in Italy, 1550-1650

Join us for a talk by Elizabeth Currie this Friday, 10 November. Elizabeth will discuss dress and deviancy in early modern Italy, from the perspectives of the fashionable elite to others at the social margins.

The typical black attire of the Italian nobleman represented an ideal of restraint and sobriety. Other styles that strayed from this model were often denounced, particularly the kind of flamboyance usually associated with soldiers: leather, feathers, and slashed, figure-hugging garments.  How did this impulse to regulate clothing change in the context of groups of ‘outsiders’, increasingly prominent in visual imagery from this period, such as fortune tellers or beggars?

Drawing on contemporary debates on morality, etiquette, and health, the talk will investigate why specific types of dress were vilified and considered to pose a threat. It will highlight clothing’s power to bind together communities as well as to disrupt gender identities and social hierarchies.


Elizabeth Currie
 is a lecturer and author specialising in the history of early modern dress, fashion and textiles.  She currently teaches at the Royal College of Art/V&A and Central St Martins. Her articles have appeared in Fashion TheoryRenaissance Studies, and the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Recent publications include Fashion and Masculinity in Renaissance Florence (2016) and (ed.) A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion, Vol. 3: Fashion in the Renaissance (1450-1650) (2017), as well as contributions to the Bloomsbury Visual Arts blog, Gucci Stories, and Apollo online.

Friday, 10 November 2017 at 12:30 pm in The Courtauld Research Forum Seminar Room 
Open to all, free admission. No advance booking required.

 

Addressing Images

Every term we have a meeting of the Addressing Images Discussion Group.  Actually, that makes it sound far too official and formal, what really happens is that anyone who feels like spending their lunch hour talking about fashion can drop in and join my students and me.  It started as a way to share ideas and has become a regular venue to think about what fashion representation means.  Past sessions have included looking at Bill Cunningham’s entrancing photographs of Editta Sherman dressed in vintage, out and about in 1970s New York, amateur film footage of a late 1930s family holiday to Europe, and Paul Iribe’s images for Les Robes de Paul Poiret – this last one was extra special, as we had the original 1908 book on display from our collections.

Deciding what to discuss is always fun.  We need to choose something that will spark discussion, and interest the wide and wonderful range of people who attend – everyone from fellow Courtauld academics and administrative staff to textile designers, photographers, Instagram friends, vintage collectors – anyone who likes to talk about dress.  Ideas are just as diverse as the backgrounds of the people and that’s the point – sharing what we do at The Courtauld with others, and in turn being inspired by the people that attend.

  Detail of illustration of Elsa Schiaparelli design by Marcel Vertes, 1938

Detail of illustration of Elsa Schiaparelli design by Eric, 1938

Out most recent session focused on Christian Berard’s illustrations for Elsa Schiaparelli’s famed 1938 Circus Collection.  With the original double page spread as our focus we considered the way Berard’s technique drew viewers in to a tumbling series of glimpsed images of couture-clad women, clowns, acrobats and animals.  We compared his illustrations to Eric’s more earthbound, but no less seductive style, and to Marcel Vertes’ fantastical dreamlike drawings.  Discussion ranged from brushstroke to colour, from character to iconography and from fashion to funfair.

It was, as always, a wonderful, enlightening way to spend an hour … so do put the date for next term’s Addressing Images on 9 February in your diaries.

Burberry’s Capes Reimagined at Masterpiece London

This summer I was given the chance to visit Masterpiece London. Upon arrival, I was more than excited to see a fashion exhibit there amongst the prestigious art and antiques that are usually on display.

The exhibition featured a selection of limited edition handmade capes from Burberry’s Capes Reimagined show and February 2017 catwalk, combined and backdropped with black and white photography of Henry Moore sculptures. The sculptures were inspiration for the large and sculptural forms of the Burberry capes. The shadows cast on the floor by the capes were art in themselves, and also reminded me of shapes found in Moore’s sculptures.

Drawing on Moore’s use of found objects, the capes were made out of feathers, shells, pearls, crystals, lace, and wood. The capes were magical – my two favourites were one which had shells all over, and another with white feathers and a collar made out of tiny crystals. From afar the collar looked like it was made out of miniature feathers, but like all the capes in the exhibit, it was only when you got closer that you realised there was something more complex to them than their shapes or shadows.

The exhibition was displayed in a small section at the end of the Masterpiece London space. There were no walls, but instead the photographs acted as architectural wall panels which you had to walk through in order to get access to the spectacular capes in the centre. There were also delicate white veils dividing the space, which made the capes seem even more powerful in contrast.

Capes are a symbol of protection. These capes were bold just like Moore’s sculptures, and they seemed to be making a powerful statement. In this exhibit Moore’s sculptures were only nostalgic black and white photographic reproductions, and the real sculptures on display were the Burberry capes. Not exactly wearable in our modern day to day life, these capes seemed to be stating that they are sculpture, they are art. More importantly, this exhibit reinforced the fact that fashion deserves to be seen as an art. In reimagining their capes, Burberry has helped those who haven’t already to reimagine what constitutes art.

By Grace Lee

All photos by the author.

Diary Dates: Documenting Fashion Events Autumn Term 2017

We have two fascinating events coming up this term – do join us if you can. We want to open up discussion of the many, varied themes within fashion and its history and these are a wonderful forum for meeting and talking about dress.

Both are held in:

Research Forum Seminar Room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN

Both are FREE & OPEN TO ALL – we look forward to seeing you there

Christian Berard, Elsa Schiaparelli, Circus Collection, 1938, detail

12.30-1.30 Friday 20 October

The first event is part of our Addressing Fashion Discussion Group seminars and opens up discussion of dress’ significance within imagery – whether paintings, prints, photographs, advertisements, film stills or drawings. It brings together dress and art historians, as well as those interested in exploring issues and meanings within representation. A single image will be shown in each session, giving participants the opportunity to re-examine familiar, and confront new representations of fashion and dress. We will rethink images through the lens of dress history, and consider what is shown from the perspective of participants’ own research. The aim is to provide a forum to debate, share reactions to images, and to consider ideas about fashion, dress and representation in an informal environment. This builds upon the innovative work being undertaken in this field at the Institute with the wider community, and beyond.

Pietro della Vecchia (1603-78), A fortune-teller reading the palm of a soldier

12.30-1.30 Monday 10 November

Our second event is an exciting part of our Dress Talks series titled: Crossing Boundaries: Dress and Exclusion in Italy, 1550-1650, Elizabeth Currie will discuss dress and deviancy in early modern Italy, from the perspectives of the fashionable elite to others at the social margins.

The typical black attire of the Italian nobleman represented an ideal of restraint and sobriety. Other styles that strayed from this model were often denounced, particularly the kind of flamboyance usually associated with soldiers: leather, feathers, and slashed, figure-hugging garments.  How did this impulse to regulate clothing change in the context of groups of ‘outsiders’, increasingly prominent in visual imagery from this period, such as fortune tellers or beggars?

Drawing on contemporary debates on morality, etiquette, and health, the talk will investigate why specific types of dress were vilified and considered to pose a threat. It will highlight clothing’s power to bind together communities as well as to disrupt gender identities and social hierarchies.

Elizabeth Currie is a lecturer and author specialising in the history of early modern dress, fashion and textiles.  She currently teaches at the Royal College of Art/V&A and Central St Martins. Her articles have appeared in Fashion Theory, Renaissance Studies, and the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Recent publications include Fashion and Masculinity in Renaissance Florence (2016) and (ed.) A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion, Vol. 3: Fashion in the Renaissance (1450-1650) (2017), as well as contributions to the Bloomsbury Visual Arts blog, Gucci Stories, and Apollo online.

Passing: Fashion In American Cities Call for Papers

Pepper LaBeija, Paris Is Burning (1990)

Hello,

Welcome back to the Documenting Fashion blog – hope you’ve all had a good summer.

We will be returning to our usual schedule with new posts on Tuesdays and Fridays – and don’t forget you can subscribe by entering your email address on the right of the page to be sure never to miss anything.

The new term starts in a couple of weeks, when I’ll be welcoming a new intake of students. In the meantime, let’s see what’s coming up … today some information about the Call for Papers for our amazing conference Passing: Fashion in American Cities in May.

And to develop this fascinating theme – some stills from Jennie Livingston’s incredible 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning exploring the world of New York’s 1980s drag ball subculture and the beautiful, intricate performances, in which contestants reimagined themselves through dress and vogueing.

Rebecca.

Paris Is Burning, dir. Jennie Livingston (1990)

Passing: Fashion in American Cities

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

Saturday 5 May 2018
10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Organised by

  • Rebecca Arnold: The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • David Peters Corbett: The Courtauld Institute of Art

The idea of ‘passing’ and the issues it raises in relation to contemporary and historical notions of self-fashioning and identities is of central importance in a period of political, social and cultural upheaval.  The notion of passing also speaks to current discrimination and civil rights issues, and this conference seeks to examine the ways dress has been used to ‘pass’, to negotiate, resist and refuse contemporary prejudice, discrimination and status and beauty ideals.  We aim to explore dress, the body and the idea of ‘becoming’ – in relation to gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and class, with the city as a key locus for attempts to outwit social and cultural mores through the artful deployment of dress.

We welcome proposals that discuss actual dress, as well as its visual representation, with focus on the Americas as a diverse geographical zone in which growing urban centres and mass immigration have hot-housed conformity and, in turn, its resistance.

The conference seeks to highlight and interrogate this important aspect of urban self-fashioning to understand its place within dress practices and visual culture, and to develop analysis of its place within American social life.

Submission process: Please submit abstracts of 150-200 words in English, along with a short biography of approximately 100 words to passingconference@gmail.com by 29 September 2017.

 

Dr Sarah Cheang to Speak at the Courtauld

Join us Monday 19 June in the Research Forum from 12:30 pm-1:30 pm for ‘Transnational Fashion History: Some Problems in Twentieth-Century Chineseness,’ a lecture by Dr Sarah Cheang! It will also be available on a live stream at this link.

‘Cloquelle et Cloky ou le Voyage en Chine,’ in Gazette du Bon Ton, 1921. History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art.

Fashion is an emphatically transnational form of modernity and yet it is continually made to serve national agendas and uses pervasive ethnic stereotypes to create cultural value. Fashion thus creates embodied and material engagements between national and cosmopolitan subjectivities. This paper explores the vexed topic of fashion, nation and diaspora, foregrounding histories of imperialism, East Asian and European identities. New narratives of national identity are investigated by engaging directly with the transnational as a flexible state of in-between during which fashion produces multiple modernities and multiple subjectivities from within colonialism’s complex webs of global exchange and unequal power relations. Posing new questions about twentieth-century Chinese identity by placing iconic forms such as the qipao and the Chinese shawl within a transnational context, the nature of the exotic, constructions of western and non-western fashion, and the field of fashion itself are reconsidered. The paradox of fashion is that it demonstrates through flows of objects and ideas, commerce, people and politics that fashion objects are not reducible to a single culture, but at the same time fashion constantly plays with symbols of national identity in order to create personal and public meaning. This paper takes up that paradox as a key site for a deeper understanding of the East Asian within fashion history.

Sarah Cheang is Senior Tutor in the History of Design at the Royal College of Art, London. Her research centres on transnational fashion, material culture and the body from the nineteenth century to the present day, on which she has published widely. Her work is characterized by a concern with the experience and expression of ethnicity through fashion and body adornment. She co-edited the collection Hair: Styling, Culture and Fashion (2008), writing on hair and race, as well as reflecting more generally on the meanings of hair within a wide range of cultures. Fascinated by states of in-between and the creative potential of metamorphosis and misunderstanding, she recently led the research project Fashion and Translation: Britain, Japan, China, Korea (2014-15), exploring East Asian identities through the ways that fashion travels between cultures. She is currently embarking on a new photographic project on hair, humanity and cycles of life and death.

Reading Fashion Magazines: Celebrating the Courtauld’s History of Dress journals archive

Fashion magazines provide a space for escapism and fantasy, but this imaginative realm of image and text is centred on the very real interactions that viewers have with these material objects. How does it feel to read a fashion magazine? Do you read it dutifully, from cover to cover? Or do you flip through more sporadically, waiting for something exciting to halt you in your tracks? Of equal importance is where we read fashion magazines. Is it in the silence of the library, inhaling the smell of the archive? Or at home, from the comfort of the sofa? Perhaps it’s on the tube, amongst the rush of commuters and the jolt of a train braking? These multisensory encounters all play a part in our interpretation of what we see – and read – within the fashion magazine.

These are some of the questions we are going to be thinking about on Saturday 6th May, at our conference ‘Reading Fashion Magazines: Celebrating the Courtauld’s History of Dress journals archive’. In celebration of the Courtauld’s recently catalogued History of Dress journals archive, our one-day symposium will examine how the fashion magazine has constructed and circulated social, cultural and political ideas concerning dress, body and identity.  In opening up the collection, we will examine fashion magazines more broadly as documents of the time in which they were produced, reflecting changing tastes and attitudes as well as social and technological developments. We will explore how the fashion magazine has been consumed by readers, whether glanced through or thoroughly read from cover to cover, and consider the sensory connections to be made between looking, seeing, being, feeling and wearing.

Speakers include Paul Jobling, Alice Beard, Rebecca Arnold, Lucy Moyse, Marta Francheschini and Maria Angela Jansen, will consider these overlapping themes from the interdisciplinary perspectives of design history, fashion studies, visual culture, sociology, and those working professionally within the field. The day will include a viewing session of some earlier examples from our collection as well as an opportunity to see a fashion magazine display curated in collaboration with History of Dress MA students. This symposium will provide the opportunity to question changes in the way that dress has been documented, worn and consumed throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as to study the fashion magazine as image, object, text, idea and experience intertwined.

Booking is now open at the link below, so hurry!

http://courtauld.ac.uk/event/reading-fashion-magazines

Prof. Elizabeth Edwards to Speak at the Courtauld

Join us Monday 20 March in the Research Forum from 12:30 pm-1:30 pm for ‘Thoughts on historical pagents as photographs,’ an Ad/dressing History lecture with Professor Elizabeth Edwards!

Image: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The early twentieth century saw a craze for historical pageants – popular re-enactments of the history of a locality. In these the stress on authenticity of historical representation through words, scenes and costume was particularly important. Prof. Edwards will consider the role of photography in perpetuating these quasi-ritual processes, values and the social efficacy of the pageants. She argues that photographs of pageants were not merely records of pageants, but, through the temporal complexity and reality effect of photographs, created a subjunctive ‘as if’ of history which extended the reach of the ritual qualities of pageants. This paper is part of a larger ethnographic project on photography and the emergence of public histories 1850-1950.

Elizabeth Edwards is a visual and historical anthropologist. She has worked extensively on the relationships between photography, history and anthropology. She is Professor Emerita of Photographic History at De Montfort University, Honorary Professor in the Anthropology Department at UCL and will soon join the V&A Research Institute as Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Professor.  She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2015. Her current book projects are on photography and the emergence  concepts of the collective ownership of ancient monuments, and on photography and the apparatus and practice of history.

Fashion Illustrator Richard Haines to Visit the Courtauld

Join us next week for two events with renowned fashion illustrator and visiting artist Richard Haines! After years as a fashion designer, Richard uses his eye for detail of fabric and form to produce striking images of fashion for clients like Prada, J.Crew, Pennyblack, Il Palacio del Hierro, Calvin Klein, Coach, Georg Jensen, Bobbi Brown, Unionmade Goods, Barneys, Mr. Porter, Grazia, The New York Times Style Magazine, Man of the World, GQ and GQ Italy. Richard also runs the fantastic blog “What I Saw Today,” where he records the style of trendsetters on the streets of New York City.

On Tuesday 21 February, Richard will be in conversation with London-based writer and editor Dal Chodha to discuss how he found his way to illustration from fashion design. This event will be held in the Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre at the Courtauld Institute of Art. The event is free to all, but make sure to come early to secure a seat!

We will be holding another event with Richard later in the week on Thursday 23 February. At this smaller lecture, Richard answers the question, “What does it mean to be a fashion illustrator in 2017?” through discussions of social media and collaboration. The event is open to Courtauld staff and students, though non-affiliated visitors may book a place at the lecture by emailing researchforum@courtauld.ac.uk. Seating is limited, so reserve your place soon.

If you can’t wait to learn more about Richard, check out his illustrations on Instagram. We hope to see you there!