A True #ThrowbackThursday: CSA Western Region Archives

Costume Society of America. Go to home page.

When I became the Archivist for CSA Western Region, I inherited seven boxes of files on our region’s 39 years of history and activities. These boxes have been added to and passed along to each successive Past President/Archivist for many years, and I thought it was high time we digitized them. The board agreed, and I have begun the long scanning process. I’ve just started on “Book 1” (a large three-ring binder), and I’m learning so much.

Here are five fun facts from the Archives:

  • The Western Region was established as the first region of CSA in 1976.
  • Mary Hunt Kalenberg, curator of Costumes and Textiles at LACMA was along with Jack Handford were co-chairmen of the board set in place prior to the first Western Region election. Kalenberg, “was instrumental in the organization of CSA and one of its 15 charter members. She served on the original National Board of Directors.” (CSA-WR Archives, Folder one, “Founding of CSA and the Early Years of Region V—Phylis Specht”). LACMA was generously supportive of the region during this period.
  • During the first 10 years (1976-86), the region hosted a whopping 66 programs. Subjects included:
    Folk/Ethnic (18); Art & Fashion (13); Western History (17), Theatre & Film (10); Conservation (1); Academic (4); and Miscellaneous (3).
  • The region operated solely as a Los Angeles chapter, with programs held bi-monthly, until 1981 when Inez Brooks-Myers was elected to the board and membership expanded to all the western states.
  • The first Symposium was Fashion and the Doll, held in November of 1985 at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach. A ‘mini-symposium’ on costume for work and travel was held in February of the following year at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. An impressive number of these kinds of events were held over the next several years.

As I go through more of the material, I plan to share more information about the impressive history of
the Western Region.

This article was first published in the Newsletter of the Costume Society of America Western Region, Spring 2015 issue. Click here to read the full issue: Spring+2015+CSA-WR.

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Fashion History Primary Sources: Les Modes Online

Les Modes Nov 1909
Vicomtesse De Fontenay (Nee Pichon) in Les Modes, November 1909

For some research I’m doing, it has become incredibly helpful to have access to the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France). They have a vast online collection, including searchable Les Modes (where the above image came from). It’s a marvelous resource for anyone doing research on Haute Couture. Happy Hunting!

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Guest Post: “When Redskin Was the New Black” by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell

When Redskin Was the New Black

By Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell

Louis-Charles Desnos, “Coëffure à l’Insurgente.”Souvenir à la Hollandoise, enrichi de nouvelles Coëffures les plus galantes, 1780. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (92-B23531)
Louis-Charles Desnos, “Coëffure à l’Insurgente.”Souvenir à la Hollandoise, enrichi de nouvelles Coëffures les plus galantes, 1780. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (92-B23531)

Whether it’s famously blonde Blake Lively wrapped in a Navajo blanket on the cover of Vogue or a Karlie Kloss walking the runway in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show wearing a feathered headdress and little else, high-fashion knockoffs of Native American clothing and textiles inevitably make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Of course, this kind of cultural appropriation is nothing new—a century ago, Paul Poiret and Sonia Delaunay drew modernist inspiration from ancient Native American textile patterns—but it’s been going on even longer than you might think.

The coiffure à l’insurgente was one of many French fashions of the late 1770s and 1780s inspired by the defining philosophical issue of the time: America’s battle for independence, in which France was a key political and military ally. Ship-shaped coiffures à la Belle Poule and gowns of “Franklin gray”—the color of Benjamin Franklin’s hair—adorned the court of Louis XVI; coiffures à l’Americaine and chapeaux à la Pensilvanie appeared in French fashion magazines. At the time, “insurgente”—meaning “rebel”—was a synonym for “American” in French. A habit à l’insurgente appeared in the fashion magazine Gallerie des modes in 1779; it was described as being similar to gowns worn by Anglo-American women. But while its relation to American dress is obscure—and possibly invented to capitalize on the trend—the coiffure à l’insurgente clearly resembles a Native American feathered headdress, or war bonnet.Far from being perceived as offensive or exploitative, the coiffure à l’insurgente and other pro-American fashions advertised their female wearers’ patriotism and political acumen.

This image comes from a rare edition of the 1780 almanac Souvenir à la Hollandoise, enrichi de nouvelles Coëffures les plus galantes in the special collections of the Getty Research Institute (GRI), Los Angeles. The GRI is a research library adjacent to the J. Paul Getty Museum, with its own extensive holdings and exhibition program. Its special collections include rare books, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, correspondence, and archival material, much of it useful to fashion historians. A photo archive of two million images of artworks—housed in boxes sorted by genre and country—is a valuable resource for hard-to-find images, or just idle browsing. The GRI also has a good selection of fashion books, journals, and exhibition catalogues on open shelves, plus a wealth of reference material and extensive online resources like the BHA and ArtStor.

While its changing exhibitions gallery and Plaza Level (which includes Getty publications, recent periodicals, and general reference books) are open to the public, you need to apply for a reader’s card to visit the GRI’s stacks, photo archive, and special collections. It is worth getting one. Although the Getty has recently made its images available to the public free of charge under an open content policy, only a fraction of the GRI’s vast holdings have been photographed, and searching the Digital Collections can be frustrating. But helpful, knowledgeable librarians and an unusually user-friendly environment make the GRI’s embarrassment of research riches manageable.

Dr. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is an independent scholar and consultant with an impressive background in fashion and history.  She received her B.A. from Stanford University, her M.A. from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and her Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen. Chrisman-Campbell has published numerous journal and magazine articles on 18th– and early 19th-century French fashion.  She has also contributed to several books and museum catalogues, including Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915 (Los Angeles: Prestel and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2010) and Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century (Los Angeles: Getty Publishing, 2011).

Her new book, Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, (Yale University Press) is available as of this week.

 

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Issey Miyake to Western Wear to Amazons at CSA Western Region Symposium

 

Issey Miyake’s Tattoo (1970)

The Western Region of the Costume Society of America held their symposium this year at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR, on October 11. I was fortunately enough to attend and was treated to seven lovely papers (some works in progress), and two lively discussions with attendees on the papers presented, as well as on the state of the western region and what members want more (and less) of. Attendees were very engaged in the discussions, more than I’d seen at a regional level.

The papers topics were based loosely on the topic “From the Street to the Catwalk, Cultural Influences on Contemporary Fashion” and the Museum of Contemporary Craft made for a wonderful setting (especially because of their exhibit, Fashioning Cascadia, which ended that day.

After opening remarks, the Annual Business meeting, and a short talk by CSA National President, Kathy Mullet (who is a Western Region member), the papers were presented. Given by Brenna Barks, Clara Berg, Meghan Hanson, Jennifer M. Mower, Linda Florence Matheson, Ilana Winter and JoAnn Stabb, the papers were varied – both in their topics, as well as in the progress of research. Topics included

  • Issey Miyake’s use of Japanese revival style,
  • GLBTQ style clothing in a regional museum,
  • a preview of the Michel Arnaud Fashion Photography Archive at FIDM,
  • pre-WWII WPA sewing rooms,
  • Street to runway fashion from the 40s-80s,
  • A history of Rockmount Ranch Wear, and
  • Romaine Brooks’ Amazon/Tuxedo fashions and their influence through history

It was also a good mix of emerging professionals and well –seasoned presenters. Regional diversity was good too – presenters were from Fresno, Los Angeles, Davis, Seattle, and Corvalis, covering three states (California, Oregon, and Washington).

Happily, attendees were also given packets of information with abstracts for all the papers presented, and much discussion was generated by the topics in the symposium wrap-up. I was glad to get to spend such good time, considering these interesting topics. It makes me glad that there is still so much research left to do! Below are some photos I took from the Fashioning Cascadia Exhibition:

Photo Oct 11, 8 26 30 AMwtmkPhoto Oct 11, 8 25 40 AMwtmk  Photo Oct 11, 8 26 45 AMwtmkPhoto Oct 11, 8 26 34 AMwtmk

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New #FashionBooks for October: Cartier, Havana style, Haute Couture artisans and Textile tales, !

Fall is always a busy time for books, and this month a number of publishers have provided some unique offerings. Of particular note is a new book on Cartier – a tie-in with an exhibition at the Denver Art Museum (opens November 16). Strange Material: Storytelling through Textiles, was recently reviewed at TheLongThread.com, in an overview of her trip to Portland (I’ll have my own wrap up of my recent trip to Portland for the CSA Western Region Symposium soon!) In the meantime, please enjoy these new books!

Strange Material: Storytelling through Textiles

by Leanne Prain (Arsenal Pulp Press, October 7, 2014)

From the publisher:

 Through text, the act of weaving a tale or dropping a thread takes on new meaning for those who previously have seen textiles—quilts, blankets, articles of clothing, and more—only as functional objects. This book showcases crafters who take storytelling off the page and into the mediums of batik, stitching, dyeing, fabric painting, knitting, crochet, and weaving, creating objects that bear their messages proudly, from personal memoir and cultural fables to pictorial histories and wearable fictions.”

Havana: Street Style

by Conner Gorry and Gabriel Solomons (Intellect Books, October 15, 2014)

From the Publisher:

When it comes to fashion, few metropolitan areas are more synonymous with style than New York, London, Paris, and Milan. But the couture capitals of tomorrow may be located in less likely locales. Addressing the interplay between the development of fashion centers across the world and their relationship to consumption and street style in both local and global contexts, the books in the Street Style series aim to record emerging fashion capitals and their relationship to the physical landscapes of the street. By examining how particular ecologies of fashion are connected to the formation of gender, class, and generational identities, this series establishes a new methodology for recording and understanding identity and its connection to style. Havana Street Style is the first book that explores and reveals the relationship between culture, city, and street fashion in Cuba’s capital. Matching visual ethnography with critical analysis, the book documents a unique street style few in the United States have yet experienced.”

Haute Couture Ateliers: The Artisans of Fashion

By Hélène Farnault (Vendome Press, October 7, 2014)

From the Publisher:

Haute Couture Ateliers takes the reader on a tour of fashion’s backstage, inhabited not only by exceptional designers but also by lace makers, weavers, textile finishers, pleaters, jewelers, feather workers, leather makers, embroiderers, and many other special­ized craftspeople. With painstaking attention to detail and exceptional workmanship, they can create anything and everything a designer can imagine. Exquisite photogra­phy captures this unchanged world of small workshops where artisans practice ancient trades—though a number have evolved with the times: while some weavers still use looms, others use high-speed precision machines, guided by proprietary software. Hélène Farnault, France’s leading authority on haute couture crafts, explains the rarefied hierarchies and mysteries of these extraordinary artisans, bringing talented milliners and trimming experts into the spotlight.”

Cartier in the 20th Century

By Pierre Painero (Vendome Press, October 14, 2014)

From the Publisher:

Created with the expertise of Cartier Heritage, this exquisite book showcases the rich holdings of the Cartier Collection and archive. It features not only a sumptuous array of rings, bracelets, necklaces, and tiaras, but also cocktail and smoking accessories, mystery clocks, and lavish objects created by Cartier’s ateliers in Paris, London, and New York. Organized thematically, the book features magnificent jewels and accessories owned by such arbiters of taste as Daisy Fellowes, the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Grace, Barbara Hutton, and Elizabeth Taylor. Throughout, specially commissioned photographs of Cartier’s legendary jewels are accompanied by vintage photographs—drawn from the Condé Nast and Cartier archives—of these royals, socialites, and Hollywood stars in their Cartier finery, including work by Steichen, Horst, Beaton, and Charbonneau.”

 

 

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Fall Book Notes and Previews (Biba, Art Noveau, and the 19th Century)

The books just keep coming! And not surprisingly, there were many released in time for the new school year. The vast majority of these are museum publications, however, reflecting the ever-increasing popularity of fashion exhibitions in museums.

The Biba Years, 1963-1975 By Barbara Hulanicki and Martin Pel

(September 23, 2014, V &A Publishing)

A revealing look at the fashion revolution of the 1960s and ’70s through the groundbreaking, hip, and now-legendary London emporium Biba, this book looks at “the most beautiful store in the world.” Biba, founded in 1963 by designer Barbara Hulanicki, quickly gained cult status and outgrew several locations before the five-story “Big Biba” opened in 1973. More than a store, it was a haven of cool for artists, movie stars, and rock musicians. This book tells the story of the Biba decade, and how the label revolutionized retail and fashion culture. With a wealth of previously unpublished material, including full-color facsimiles of the six luxurious Biba catalogs and archival photographs, The Biba Years, 1963-1975 looks at the first retailer to bring affordable fashion to young consumers. Stunning new photography documents the unique Biba look, and the designer and her contemporaries offer their personal insights.”

Art Noveau Fashion By Clare Rose (September 16, 2014, V & A Publishing)

The stunning designs of Worth, Paquin, Poiret, Fortuny, and more are showcased in this look at the glamorous world of Art Nouveau fashion. Providing an introduction to the style, which overlaps with late Arts and Crafts in the 1890s and early Modernism in the 1910s, the book focuses on these important designers before discussing Art Nouveau jewelry and accessories, advertising, the influence of exotic Eastern cultures, and artists, among them Beardsley, Klimt, and Mackintosh. New color photographs of gar­ments from the V&A’s collection are accompanied by period images of such style icons as Lily Langtry, Loïe Fuller, and Consuelo Vanderbilt, many previously unpublished. Striking and seductive, Art Nouveau styles were revived by the counterculture in the late 1960s and continue to resonate today.”

Fashioning the 19th Century: Habits of Being 3 By Cristina Giorcelli and Paula Rabinowitz (August 7, 2014, Univ of Minnesota Press)

In nineteenth-century Europe and the United States, fashion—once the province of the well-to-do—began to make its way across class lines. At once a democratizing influence and a means of maintaining distinctions, gaps in time remained between what the upper classes wore and what the lower classes later copied. And toward the end of the century, style also moved from the streets to the parlor. The third in a four-part series charting the social, cultural, and political expression of clothing, dress, and accessories, Fashioning the Nineteenth Century focuses on this transformative period in an effort to show how certain items of apparel acquired the status of fashion and how fashion shifted from the realm of the elites into the emerging middle and working classes—and back.

The contributors to this volume are leading scholars from France, Italy, and the United States, as well as a practicing psychoanalyst and artists working in fashion and with textiles. Whether considering girls’ school uniforms in provincial Italy, widows’ mourning caps in Victorian novels, Charlie’s varying dress in Kate Chopin’s eponymous story, or the language of clothing in Henry James, the essays reveal how changes in ideals of the body and its adornment, in classes and nations, created what we now understand to be the imperatives of fashion.
Contributors: Dagni Bredesen, Eastern Illinois U; Carmela Covato, U of Rome Three; Agnès Derail-Imbert, École Normale Supérieure/VALE U of Paris, Sorbonne; Clair Hughes, International Christian University of Tokyo; Bianca Iaccarino Idelson; Beryl Korot; Anna Masotti; Bruno Monfort, Université of Paris, Ouest Nanterre La Défense; Giuseppe Nori, U of Macerata, Italy; Marta Savini, U of Rome Three; Anna Scacchi, U of Padua; Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, U of Michigan.

 

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Come to the CSA Western Region Conference for the papers! (Details)

*

I’m excited for the upcoming Costume Society of America Western Region conference (October 10-12 in Portland, OR). You can still register (through October 1). The paper presentations have just been announced and will include:

  • From Rice paddies to Parisian Runways: Issey Miyake’s Revival and Reinvention of Traditional Japanese Peasant Textiles by Brenna Barks (Worn Through and CSA Western Region board member)
  • Queering the Costume Collection: Collecting and Displaying GLBTQ style in a Regional History Museum by Clara Berg
  • The Michael Arnaud Fashion Photography Archive by Meghan Hanson (of FIDM Museum)
  • WPA Sewing Rooms in the Pacific Northwest, 1935 to 1943: Developing a Regional Study by Jennifer M. Mower
  • Convergence of Clothing Cultures: From 20th Century Streets (1940’s to 1980’s) to 21st Century Runways by Linda Florence PhD
  • Fashioning the Weil West: the Influence of Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Company  by Ilana Winter
  • Romaine Brooks and the Amazons in the Drawing Room: The Tuxedo Deconstructing Gender by JoAnn Stabb (UC Davis professor emeritus)

*Women at work in a WPA sewing room.

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Fashion Books of Summer 2014: Turquoise, Dress Patterns, Luxury, Branding, and the Kimono

This summer saw a number of fashion-related titles published from both University and traditional Trade publishing houses. Here’s a quick round-up of some of those titles you might want to add to your fall reading list:

The Sky Blue Stone: The Turquoise Trade in World History by Arash Khazeni (UC Press, May 2014)

This book traces the journeys of a stone across the world. From its remote point of origin in the city of Nishapur in eastern Iran, turquoise was traded through India, Central Asia, and the Near East, becoming an object of imperial exchange between the Safavid, Mughal, and Ottoman empires. Along this trail unfolds the story of turquoise–a phosphate of aluminum and copper formed in rocks below the surface of the earth–and its discovery and export as a global commodity.

In the material culture and imperial regalia of early modern Islamic tributary empires moving from the steppe to the sown, turquoise was a sacred stone and a potent symbol of power projected in vivid color displays. From the empires of Islamic Eurasia, the turquoise trade reached Europe, where the stone was collected as an exotic object from the East. The Eurasian trade lasted into the nineteenth century, when the oldest mines in Iran collapsed and lost Aztec mines in the Americas reopened, unearthing more accessible sources of the stone to rival the Persian blue.

Sky Blue Stone recounts the origins, trade, and circulation of a natural object in the context of the history of Islamic Eurasia and global encounters between empire and nature.”

History of the Paper Pattern Industry by Joy Emery (Bloomsbury, June 2014)

Sewing patterns have been the principle blueprint for making garments in the home for centuries. From their origins in the tailoring manuals of the 16th century to the widely produced pamphlets of the 18th and 19th centuries, through to the full size packet patterns of today, their history and development has reflected major changes in technology (such as the advent of the sewing machine), retailing and marketing practices (the fashion periodical), and shifts in social and cultural influences.

This accessible book explores this history, outlining innovations in patternmaking by the companies who produced patterns and how these reflected the fashions and demands of the market.

Showcasing beautiful illustrations from original pattern pamphlets, packets and ads, as well as 9 complete patterns from which readers can reproduce vintage garments of different eras, the book provides a unique visual guide to homemade fashions as well as essential exploration of the industry that produced them.”

Luxury: Fashion Lifestyle and Excess by Patrizia Calefato and Lisa Adams (Bloomsbury, June 2014)

Luxury has been both celebrated and condemned throughout history right up to the present day. This groundbreaking text examines luxury and its relationship with desire, status, consumption and economic value, exploring why luxury remains prominent even in the context of a global recession.

Using approaches from cultural studies, semiotic research and aesthetics, Luxury presents a wide range of case studies including urban space and new technologies, travel, interior design, cars, fashion ads and jewellery to explore what luxury represents, and why, in the contemporary world.”

Global Fashion Brands: Style, Luxury & History by Joseph H. Hancock II, Gjoko Muratovski, Veronica Manlow and Anne Pierson-Smith (Intellect, Aug 15, 2014)

Fashion branding is more than just advertising. It helps to encourage the purchase and repurchase of consumer goods from the same company. While historically fashion branding has primarily focused on consumption and purchasing decisions, recent scholarship suggests that branding is a process that needs to be analyzed from a style, luxury, and historical pop cultural view using critical, ethnographic, individualistic, or interpretive methods.

In this collection, the contributors explore the meaning behind fashion branding in the context of the contested power relations underpinning the production, marketing, and consumption of style and fashion as part of our global culture. “

Kimono: A Modern History by Terry Satsuki Milhaupt (Reaktion Books, Aug 15, 2014)

What is the kimono? Everyday garment? Art object? Symbol of Japan? As this book shows, the kimono has served all of these roles, its meaning changing across time and with the perspective of the wearer or viewer.
Kimono: A Modern History begins by exposing the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century foundations of the modern kimono fashion industry. It explores the crossover between ‘art’ and ‘fashion’ in this period at the hands of famous Japanese painters who worked with clothing pattern books and painted directly onto garments. With Japan’s exposure to Western fashion in the nineteenth century, and Westerners’ exposure to Japanese modes of dress and design, the kimono took on new associations and came to symbolize an exotic culture and an alluring female form. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the kimono industry was sustained through government support. The line between fashion and art became blurred as kimonos produced by famous designers were collected for their beauty and displayed in museums, rather than being worn as clothing. Today, the kimono has once again taken on new dimensions, as the Internet and social media proliferate images of the kimono as a versatile garment to be integrated into a range of individual styles.
Kimono: A Modern History, the inspiration for a major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, not only tells the story of a distinctive garment’s ever-changing functions and image, but provides a novel perspective on Japan’s modernization and encounter with the West.”

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My Nightstand: Schiaparelli in “Fashion and War in Popular Culture”

I’ve had the same book resting on my nightstand for months now: Fashion and War in Popular Culture by Denise N. Rall (Intellect, (March 15, 2014). It’s there for those now increasingly rare moments when I have a little free brain space (and time) to pick it up. My main interest has been Chapter 4 “In the service of clothes: Elsa Schiaparelli and the war experience” by Griffith University Professor, Annita Boyd.

1940. “As her status as an Italian in Paris is becoming risky, she sets off to live in New York until 1945 and continues to help France through many initiatives across the Atlantic.” (Schiaparelli.com)

This chapter focuses on how war, and the military, influenced Schiaparelli’s design – but it also offers some valuable information on what she was up to during the war (and how those experiences later influenced her work). I’ve not read much about her career during and after the war, so I was immediately drawn to this particular essay.

As explained in Boyd’s essay, Schiaparelli’s career was viewed as a failure after the war and her work was seen as ‘out of step with post-war sensibility.’ – Boyd examines this notion, but also offers information on what Schiaparelli was doing during these years (1945-1954 and 1955-1973). This in itself makes the book worth it’s (quite affordable) price.

Very little has been written on Schiaparelli during this time. It is fascinating stuff: she was accused of being anti-French (for promoting French couture in America); of being a fascist for wearing a hat; but smuggled American money to friends in Europe in a hat, toured America lecture about French couture in 1940; and volunteered (along with her daughter) for the American Red Cross in New York. The all too brief chapter goes on to discuss how Schiaparelli’s military and surrealist influenced designs failed to take hold in the post war years, and also to discuss the recent Schiaparelli revival.

1940. Elsa Schiaparelli in New York Legion of Honor, George Hoyningen-Huene.

Other essays in this book include historical and more recent military and fashion interactions, including: “Fashionable fascism: Cinematic images of the Nazi before and after 9/11” by Kylee M. Harman-Warren;  “The discipline of appearance: military style and Australian flight hostesss uniforms 1930-1964” by Prudence Black; and “Battle dressed – clothing the criminal or ‘the hoddie’ in Britain” by Joanne Turney.

PS: You can follow author Annita Boyd on Twitter at @AnnitaBoyd

 

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Catching up: Fashion books you should know about

Since the beginning of 2014, I’ve found myself swimming in a wealth of new fashion history scholarship. In the coming weeks and months, I hope to share some of these gems with you: some in passing and some in greater depth. If you’ve read any of these and have comments, I hope you’ll share them with me and other readers as we go. Here are just a few that I should have already mentioned, that have come out relatively recently*:

Fashion and Age: Dress, The Body and Later Life by Julia Twigg (Bloomsbury, September 2013)

Throughout history certain forms and styles of dress have been deemed appropriate – or more significantly, inappropriate – for people as they age. Older women in particular have long been subject to social pressure to tone down, to adopt self-effacing, covered-up styles. But increasingly there are signs of change, as older women aspire to younger, more mainstream, styles, and retailers realize the potential of the ‘grey market’.

Fashion and Age is the first study to systematically explore the links between clothing and age, drawing on fashion theory and cultural gerontology to examine the changing ways in which age is imagined, experienced and understood in modern culture through the medium of dress. Clothes lie between the body and its social expression, and the book explores the significance of embodiment in dress and in the cultural constitution of age.

Drawing on the views of older women, journalists and fashion editors, and clothing designers and retailers, it aims to widen the agenda of fashion studies to encompass the everyday dress of the majority, shifting the debate about age away from its current preoccupation with dependency, towards a fuller account of the lived experience of age. Fashion and Age will be of great interest to students of fashion, material culture, sociology, sociology of age, history of dress and to clothing designers.”

The Language of Fashion by Roland Barthes (Bloomsbury, December 2013)

Roland Barthes was one of the most widely influential thinkers of the 20th Century and his immensely popular and readable writings have covered topics ranging from wrestling to photography. The semiotic power of fashion and clothing were of perennial interest to Barthes and The Language of Fashion – now available in the Bloomsbury Revelations series – collects some of his most important writings on these topics. Barthes’ essays here range from the history of clothing to the cultural importance of Coco Chanel, from Hippy style in Morocco to the figure of the dandy, from colour in fashion to the power of jewellery. Barthes’ acute analysis and constant questioning make this book an essential read for anyone seeking to understand the cultural power of fashion.”

The Handbook of Fashion Studies by Amy de la Haye, Agnès Rocamora, Joanne Entwistle and Helen Thomas (Bloomsbury, December 2013)

The Handbook of Fashion Studies identifies an innovative spectrum of thematic approaches, key strands and interdisciplinary concepts that continue to push forward the boundaries of fashion studies. The book is divided into seven sections: Fashion, Identity and Difference; Spaces of Fashion; Fashion and Materiality; Fashion, Agency and Policy; Science, Technology and New fashion; Fashion and Time and, Sustainable Fashion in a Globalised world.

Each section consists of approximately four essays authored by established researchers in the field from the UK, USA, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada and Australia. The essays are written by international subject specialists who each engage with their section’s theme in the light of their own discipline and provide clear case-studies to further knowledge on fashion. This consistency provides clarity and permits comparative analysis.”

Dress Casual: How College Students Redefined American Style by Deirdre Clemente (University of North Carolina Press, April 2014)

As Deirdre Clemente shows in this lively history of fashion on American college campuses, whether it’s jeans and sneakers or khakis with a polo shirt, chances are college kids made it cool. The modern casual American wardrobe, Clemente argues, was born in the classrooms, dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and gyms of universities and colleges across the country. As young people gained increasing social and cultural clout during the early twentieth century, their tastes transformed mainstream fashion from collared and corseted to comfortable. From east coast to west and from the Ivy League to historically black colleges and universities, changing styles reflected new ways of defining the value of personal appearance, and, by extension, new possibilities for creating one’s identity.

The pace of change in fashion options, however, was hardly equal. Race, class, and gender shaped the adoption of casual style, and young women faced particular backlash both from older generations and from their male peers. Nevertheless, as coeds fought dress codes and stereotypes, they joined men in pushing new styles beyond the campus, into dance halls, theaters, homes, and workplaces. Thanks to these shifts, today’s casual style provides a middle ground for people of all backgrounds, redefining the meaning of appearance in American culture.”

 

 

*Please note these descriptions come directly from the publishers.

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