5 Minutes With… Niall

 

Niall is a Courtauld MA Student currently on Rebecca Arnold’s Documenting Fashion course, about to graduate in July. During our end-of-year class trip to Kew Gardens, I caught up with him about his style.

Describe what you are you wearing today?

I’m wearing a black turtleneck with black trousers, a black blazer, and a black umbrella to keep away the summer sun.

Does your style differ depending on where you are?

I literally wear a black turtleneck and high waisted black trousers everywhere, even at home.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style by saying, “I’m going to the opera at 7, and I’m meeting my Coven at 11.” That’s how I would describe it, especially because in the Winter I have this big, black faux-fur coat, and I tend to wear velvets a lot. I feel like my approach to style is very Minimalist because the basis of what I wear is very plain and I wear the same things everyday, but then I also have more extravagant items as well which add a little touch. Because I love texture, I like velvets, satins, lace and silk, so I’ll wear those fabrics sometimes. I actually was going to wear black lace gloves today, too.

Have you always dressed like this?

No, I haven’t. I used to wear colour but then I felt really self conscious and it made me feel like I stood out, and then I started to wear all black — just because I think it looks best on my skin tone and my hair.

Do you remember an early fashion memory?

When I was four of five I would wear every single day the same red Postman Pat t-shirt with black trousers and the same pair of white trainers. I wore them everyday, until the shoes fell apart and the t-shirt had holes in, which I think is interesting because now I wear the same thing everyday as well.

Are you associated with the word ‘uniform’?

Yes, I like to wear a uniform because it makes me feel like I always look put together. It takes so much time out of the morning… I never have to be self conscious about what I’m wearing. I found my uniform just by accident because I ended up just naturally gravitating towards things that I felt the most comfortable in and the things that I feel like I looked best in. Because I wear the same thing everyday, I never have to worry about whether it looks nice or not, and can just throw something on and have it always look put together.

Do you have any favourite accessories?

One item that I wear a lot is my black and purple velvet shawl. It’s more of a Wintery thing, but I like that its kind of witchy. I got it after I went to see Stevie Nicks in the Summer Hyde Park concert, so obviously have a fond memory of it.

Can you note any inspiration for your style?

A big inspiration for me was a picture of Audrey Hepburn. Its a studio portrait of her and she’s in a black top with high waisted black trousers which are basically the same ones that I wear, and she’s got black ballet flats on. Another inspiration, honestly…. in the first two Harry Potter films, Professor McGonagall always wears a black turtleneck dress with a green velvet cape and a brooch around her neck. That was a big inspiration to me as well because I like vampiric, witchy things. And obviously American Horror Story’s Coven is a big aesthetic inspiration too. Stevie Nicks is also a style inspiration to me because she doesn’t strictly wear a uniform, but she’s always in all black, and she wears similar things to me.

 

All photographs taken by Niall

 

Live Podcast Recording: What Do We Want From Fashion Writing And Imagery Now?

Please join us Friday 29 June, 2018 at the Courtauld Institute of Art 10:30am-12:00pm for a live recording of The Conversations with Jason Campbell & Henrietta Gallina podcast, open to all free admission

Speakers include

  • Jason Campbell – journalist, personal stylist and forecaster
  • Henrietta Gallina – creative strategist

Organised by

  • Dr Rebecca Arnold – The Courtauld Institute of Art

Writers and critics represent a shrinking talent pool in the fashion industry, meanwhile fashion imagery has become a staple in our daily social media digest. With that, how we document fashion is shifting in an unprecedented way, so we will discuss how these changes are manifesting and put forward the question of what is needed and wanted today.  Join us for a live recording, with Q&A.

The Conversations With Jason Campbell & Henrietta Gallina is a weekly podcast hosted by two fashion professionals and enthusiasts. For years, Henrietta and Jason found that the conversations they were having about the fashion industry and culture were not ones being had in mainstream arenas, so in the summer of 2017, they decided document their ongoing discussions via their podcast which can be found on iTunes, Podbean and Stitcher.

Jason Campbell is a 25-year veteran of the fashion industry working as a journalist, personal stylist and forecaster. From 2002-2012, Jason published the seminal newsletter JC Report, covering trends, talents and movements from across the globe. In his role as consultant, brands such as the NFL, American Express Centurion, and Limited Brands depend on his fashion wisdom to inform their strategic marketing. Jason has also been a contributing writer to Style.com, New York Times Magazine and Surface Magazine.

Henrietta has over 12 years of experience working with a multitude of fashion, lifestyle and corporate companies across brand, creative and digital strategy and storytelling. Having worked with notable companies as Fred Perry, Topshop, Shinola, COS, Karla Otto, Nike, Parley For The Oceans, Universal Standard and many more, her focus is overall brand and cultural relevancy via bespoke strategic thinking, creative vision, content and special projects.

Dissertation Discussion: Evie

 

What is the working title of your dissertation?

A Biography of Tapestry: Moki Cherry: Home, Stage, Museum

What led you to choose this subject?

I was led to writing about Moki Cherry’s tapestries and their relationship to different environments because of the eerie absence of critical writing about her artwork (despite being exhibited internationally and being such an important part of jazz musician, Don Cherry’s aesthetic).

Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?

The best thing I’ve read is an issue of the feminist arts journal Heresies called Women’s Traditional Arts, The Politics of Aesthetics, from 1978. I found the writing and photography in here to be provocative and relevant. Lucy Lippard’s article ‘Making Something from Nothing (Towards a Definition of Women’s Hobby Art)’ provided a feminist approach to my research into Cherry’s tapestries and the social conditions they were made in.

Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?

My favourite image is a poster that Moki Cherry made for a concert in Stockholm 1967. It was the first concert that she collaborated on with Don Cherry as Movement Incorporated. It was really rewarding to discover this poster among other archived papers, and to see the symbols of hands, lips, birds and stars that are recurring motifs throughout her later tapestries.

 

Favorite place to work?

Anywhere quiet with natural light…

Dissertation Discussion: Olivia

 

What is the working title of your dissertation?

 

My current working title is ‘Hats, Jackets, and Two Bloody Shirts: Costumes, Masculinity, and Genre Subversion in Brokeback Mountain’ but that will probably change by the time I’m finished.

What led you to choose this subject?

 

I’ve really always been fascinated by film and costumes, and as the course progressed I found myself gravitating more and more towards that topic. For my second essay and my virtual exhibition I focused on costume design in Hollywood’s Golden Age. In my research for those projects I became more interested in costumes that you don’t particularly notice, but definitely have an impact on your understanding of the characters, their emotions, and their situations.  Brokeback Mountain is one of those films to me where you may not necessarily notice the costumes (and that’s a good thing!), but you feel them and they contribute enormously to our understanding of the characters. From there I began to think about it in terms of other Western films and how it compares and contrasts, and my topic really developed from that comparison.

Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?

 

I love Deborah Nadoolman Landis’s catalogue from the Hollywood Costume exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was such a fantastic exhibition and the catalogue is beautiful. I always end up getting sidetracked from what I’m meant to be reading when I use it because it’s all so fun to look at! I’ve also really enjoyed reading David Greven’s book Manhood in Hollywood from Bush to Bush, just a fascinating read with a great discussion of evolving ideas of masculinity in film in the late 20th and early 21st century.

 

Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?

 

I love them all, but I think my favorite has to be one of the most iconic/memorable images from Brokeback Mountain of our two heroes Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar on the titular Brokeback Mountain, where Jack is standing up and he playfully lassoes Ennis. It’s a beautiful shot in the film that really contrasts the grandeur of their setting with the intimacy of their relationship. It encapsulates a lot of what I’m trying to say in my dissertation about the contrast between iconic images of cowboy mythology and a more modern, emotional ideal of masculinity.

 

 

Favorite place to work?

 

My favorite place to work is probably the Reuben Library at the British Film Institute, it has a lot of the books I need and is a really nice, quiet, small work environment. I also love working at the café at Foyle’s bookstore.

Dissertation Discussion: Grace

What is the working title of your dissertation?

 

So far, it is ‘Movement in Metal: The Representation of Paco Rabanne’s 1960s Fashion Designs’

What led you to choose this subject?

 

My virtual exhibition was about late 1960s minimalist sculpture in relation to fashion. One of my exhibits was a metal ‘sound sculpture’ robe made by the Baschet Brothers for the 1966 film Who are You, Polly Maggoo? I became interested in how the models moved in this uncomfortable metal dress, which eventually drew me to Paco Rabanne and his metal dress creations from the late 1960s. In 1966, Rabanne presented a collection titled ‘Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials’ at the Georges V Hotel in Paris, which I will discuss further in my dissertation.

Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?

 

I enjoyed reading Jane Pavitt’s Fear and Fashion In The Cold War (V&A, 2008). Pavitt discusses late 1960s avant-garde and space-age fashions, stating the reasons why designers and wearers chose to make such statements in what was a politically turbulent time. The book also features many entertaining photographs of strange space-age costumes.

Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?

 

I found an advertisement in the January 1967 issue of British Vogue for Goddard’s ‘Long Term Silver Polish’. In the photograph, a model wears a Rabanne style metal disc dress, and the advert explains the polish’s use for the dress. It is interesting to see the connection between ‘traditional’ metal surfaces and Rabanne’s style of dresses, and also imagine the mixed attitudes towards them during this period.

Favorite place to work?

 

The National Art Library at the V&A is beautiful, and I like that it isn’t too overwhelmingly big.

 

By Grace Lee

Addressing Images Talk Friday, February 9th

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. This session 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.

Guided by PhD student Leah Gouget-Levy, a single image will be shown, 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 reflects our desire to share and build upon the innovative work being undertaken in this field at the Institute with the wider community, and beyond.

Taking place this Friday over the lunch hour, these sessions are open to all.

Friday 9 February 2018

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

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

MA Documenting Fashion visits the Courtauld’s Prints and Drawings Collection

Our Documenting Fashion MA class recently visited the Courtauld’s Prints and Drawings study room. Our class theme that day was ‘Modernity,’ and we were focusing on texts by Charles Baudelaire to explain the shift towards modernism, and how it impacted both art and the representation of dress. The Courtauld’s Prints and Drawings room houses approximately 7000 drawings and watercolours, and 26000 prints ranging from the Middle Ages up to the twentieth century. The prints, drawings and paintings we were studying on this visit were mostly from the late nineteenth century, around the same time that Baudelaire was writing about modernism.

It was interesting to view the shift in that period in respect to the representation of women, class and their dress, but most notably the techniques of depiction. Whereas earlier paintings which we viewed strived to be more realistic in both colour and shape, the later drawings seemed to be more relaxed, with free flowing lines and unaltered black ink. In ‘The Modern Public and Photography,’ Baudelaire discusses dreams and reality in relation to both photography and painting, and is against taking either at face value as real life: “The painter is becoming more and more inclined to paint, not what he dreams, but what he sees. And yet it is a happiness to dream, and it used to be an honour to express what one dreamed.” In the study room, a portrait of Lady Adelaide Stanhope by Alfred Edward Chalon was on display next to Paul Cézanne’s sketch of Hortense Fiquet. Completed circa 1880, Cézanne’s graphite drawing was done a few decades later than Chalon’s and it certainly shows a difference in their techniques. Lady Adelaide’s portrait is in colour and is extremely detailed – her hair and the textures of her dress are what some would call ‘realistic,’ whereas Madame Cézanne is compositionally incomplete, with many large blank spaces and ‘unfinished’ shading. In this example, it is the viewer who dreams and fills in the missing elements of the picture.

[Left] Lady Adelaide Stanhope by Alfred Edward Chalon
[Right} Madame Cézanne by Paul Cézanne, 1880.

Another example we viewed of these new techniques in depicting reality was Edouard Manet’s 1871 La queue devant La Boucherie. The etching effectively shows people queuing for food in Paris, whilst remaining open in shape and form. The umbrellas highlight the shapes in the image, whilst simultaneously forming the outline of the unified yet fleeting crowd. As Baudelaire notes about one of his subjects in ‘The Painter of Modern Life,’ “he is the painter of the passing moment and of all the suggestions of eternity that it contains.” For Baudelaire, modernity is ephemeral and contingent on the times. It is up to the painter, the drawer or the photographer to capture these moments, in order for us to observe them and their many differences, as we did in the Prints and Drawings study room.

By Grace Lee

To book a visit to the Courtauld Prints and Drawings study room, visit http://courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/collection/drawings-prints/prints-and-drawings-study-room

Bibliography

Baudelaire, Charles, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, (London: Phaidon, 1964)

Baudelaire, Charles, ‘The Modern Public and Photography’, in Alan Trachtenberg, ed., Classis Essays on Photography, (New Haven: Leete’s Island Books, 1980), pp. 83-89

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.

 

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.

Highlights from the Courtauld’s History of Dress Journals Archive: Elle UK

Our conference Reading Fashion Magazines: Celebrating The Courtauld’s History of Dress Journals Archive is this Saturday! Book your ticket here for a day of amazing speakers and beautiful objects, including those from the exhibition we have previewed the last few weeks, ‘Addressing the Courtauld’s Fashion Magazines.’ We look forward to seeing you there!


‘French Fashions’ photographed by Chris Dawes. Elle UK, March 1986. History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art.

The 1980s were turbulent years in Britain. From extreme hardships and upheaval to pop culture and newfound affluence, the decade had a lasting influence on modern-day life. In this explosive climate, some relief came with the birth of iconic magazines such as i-D, The Face, Arena and, in November 1985, the British version of Elle Magazine, the originally French style bible. Aimed at young career women, Elle combined carefree fashion with serious articles, or ‘style with content,’ as Dylan Jones, the Editor-in-Chief of GQ put it. Today, Elle holds the title of the largest fashion magazine, boasting 43 international editions published in 60 countries worldwide.

With Sally Brampton as its first Editor-in-Chief, Elle became the to-go magazine for the well off, modern 18-30 year old, who was uninterested in the world of luxuries, haute couture and pampering offered by Vogue. Instead, the magazine published frank and provocative features about love, sex, dating and health alongside interviews with the likes of Harrison Ford, Mickey Rourke, Jasper Conran or Paula Yates. The glossy fashion pages, graced by Naomi Campbell, Claudia Shiffer, Linda Evangelista, Carla Bruni and Yasmin Le Bon, were daring, powerful and unrestrained, full of spirit and joy. The articles were relatable and fascinating while the fashion photographs by Mario Testino, Eamonn J. McCabe or Neil Kirk shot in exotic locations provided a much-needed element of fantasy and aspiration. With such ingredients, Elle was set to become the cult publication of a generation.

This spread here, entitled ‘French Fashion’ and photographed by Chris Dawes for the March 1986 issue of Elle, showcases why the magazine was so groundbreaking in its first few years. Tapping into a younger, yet still style-conscious audience, guides on how to achieve a look which appears to be taken straight from the catwalk were a common fixture in the magazine. Chanel, a favourite of the modern working woman, plays a main role on this double page. The classic skirt suit of Coco, trimmed in black with gold details, complete white gloves and a black quilted bag with a chain strap, could be yours for a mere fraction of the original price. In style, however, it packs the same punch. French-chic without the price tag!

The sleek, glossy page hints at the opulence one experiences when wearing such an outfit. Framed as a Kodak contact sheet, the idea of a luxurious lifestyle is further alluded to by positioning the wearer of this ‘Chanel’ look as someone worth photographing. Yet, the girl is not simply a society lady going between luncheons and afternoon teas. She is in movement, her bag flying behind her. Perhaps she is on her way to a business meeting, or rushing to work in the morning. She appeals to the career woman of the 80s and inspires younger readers to embrace a working life – you can still look incredibly à la mode in office attire. Magazines should create a fantasy, but they should also be rooted in reality – Elle masters it!