New Journal: International Journal of Fashion Studies

The first issue of the International Journal of Fashion Studies was recently published. Edited by Emanuela Mora (Università Cattolica di Milano), Agnès Rocamora
 (London College of Fashion) and Paolo Volonté (Politecnico di Milano), it presents an innovative publishing model, by allowing articles to be submitted and peer-reviewed in a number of languages besides English. This approach acknowledges the scope and geographical breadth of the field and allows for a greater range of scholarship to be widely read, as the accepted articles are translated and published in English—which has become (for better or worse) the lingua franca of academia.

The first issue presents a diversity of approaches fully aware of the complexity and multi-disciplinarity of fashion studies. A few years back, I wrote an article on the topic for Fashion Theory, and thus found the introduction co-written by Mora, Rocamora and Volonté particularly interesting and an important addition to these discussions. Among other topics, the introduction makes evident the anglo-phone bias of the field (not unlike most academic fields) and calls for a post-colonial fashion studies.

The issue is a beginning toward the fulfillment of that wish with a number of contributions from Latin America alongside those from the U.K., Finland, the U.S., France and New Zealand.

To find out more, you can read the first issue, free of charge, on the Intellect site

Francesca Granata

Posted in General, Publications, Research/University Programmes

Titania Inglis: Fade From Green

By Sarah Scaturro

A favorite look from Titania Inglis’ F/W 2012 collection.  Photographer: Dan Lecca

Fashion Projects has been a fan of Titania Inglis ever since she launched her eponymous label a few years ago, so it was such great news to hear that she had won the 2012 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award for Sustainable Design.  While I initially thought of Inglis as an “eco” designer, it quickly became apparent that the term “eco” was simply too reductive for her design philosophy. For her, sustainability is not a gimmick, or just about sourcing yet another ecotextile. Rather, she is moving towards a concept of sustainability that emphasizes longevity, quality, and thoughtfulness.  We are very pleased to present this interview with Inglis, coming on the heels of her recent F/W 2012 fashion presentation at Eyebeam.

Fashion Projects: Congratulations on your recent Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award for Sustainable Design.  How has winning the award affected your business?

Titania Inglis: Thank you! Receiving the Ecco Domani award is such a dream come true — I didn’t believe it at first when I received the email telling me I’d won. It’s opened a lot of doors for me already within the fashion industry, and I was able to put together an incredible team for my show this season, including stylist Christian Stroble, makeup artist Lisa Aharon and hairstylist Ramona Eschbach, photographer Aliya Naumoff, set designer Ryan Crozier of Forgotten City — and collaborating on a series of leather body accessories with Bliss Lau, a designer whose innovative work I’ve admired for years.

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Posted in Designers, Fashion Shows, General, Interviews, Sustainable Fashion, Textiles, Uncategorized

Fashion Projects and Other News

by Francesca Granata

This upcoming fall, I will be starting a new post at Parsons the New School for Design as Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design History and Theory.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the school, its faculty and their impressive new MA Fashion Studies program, please visit the school’s and program’s sites respectively.

Additionally, Fashion Projects is thrilled to announce that our new print issue — on the topic of fashion criticism — is underway. It will feature interviews with Suzy Menkes, Robin Givhan, Judith Thurman and many others…so please stay tuned!

Posted in General, Research/University Programmes

Recent Fashion Exhibitions in Paris

“Madame Grès, la couture à l’oeuvre,” at the Musée Bourdelle, photo by Laura McLaws Helms

by Laura McLaws Helms

While fashion is often viewed as a lesser art, used by museums to draw in a broader range of visitors, recent exhibitions in Paris have illustrated the vastly different ways costume can be looked at in regards to its place in society. Of them, the exhibition “Madame Grès, la couture à l’oeuvre,” at the Musée Bourdelle (till July 24th), covers the most traditional view of fashion history – a retrospective on a single couturier. Conversely, “L’Orient des femmes vu par Christian Lacroix” at the Musée du Quai Branly and “Les années 1990-2000” at the Musée de La Mode et du Textile in the Musée des Arts décoratifs are focused on aspects of dress history that are commonly overlooked, and when viewed together allow for a more varied understanding of costume.

The ongoing renovations of the Musée Galliera have left Paris without a museum expressly devoted to fashion, but provided its curators with the opportunity to stage a fashion exhibition amongst the sculpture of the Musée Bourdelle, the first time a multi-disciplinary show has been done there. The high quality work of Grès’ dresses, many of which can be closely analyzed, is a remnant from a past world – a fact which is further emphasized when compared with “Les années 1990-2000″ organized by Musée de La Mode et du Textile (which closed May 8th). The second half of their ‘Histoire idéale de la mode contemporaine,’ the designers and looks chosen were the very apotheosis of Grès’ inimitable classicism.

Azzedine Alaia exhibited in “Les années 1990-2000” at the Musée de La Mode et du Textile in the Musée des Arts décoratifs, photo by Laura McLaws Helms

Opening with Margiela and the Belgians, the two floors of the exhibition were a rabbit warren of glass boxes filled with mostly prêt-a-porter outfits that bare little in common with the stately chic of Grès. The work of the thirty designers on view revealed the unquestionable influence of street style on contemporary fashion, with disparate ideas from grunge, punk and goth all making appearances. The diverseness of the looks on view (Lacroix’s gaudy couture vs. Miyake’s architectural pleated forms) made for an enjoyable exhibition, though one that at times seems too have been organized too soon — Lanvin RTW cocktail dresses two years out of the stores appear more ridiculous than prescient in the context of a museum. It is always difficult to truly analyze trends as they occur from a historical point of view, and the constructed tableaux often drew directly from the runway videos, emphasizing the seemingly unbreakable bonds between the garments and their mediated visions.

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Posted in Designers, Exhibitions, General, Museums, Textiles, Uncategorized

Unravelling Knitwear in Fashion

Sandra Backlund, Collection ‘Body, skin and hair’ (c) Photography: Johan Renck, Stylist Ellen Af Geijerstam

by Sarah Scaturro

I first met Karen Van Godtsenhoven when I was in Brussels last fall giving a lecture as the keynote speaker at the Camouflage Takes Center Stage conference at the Royal Military Museum.  She gave a wonderful presentation on camouflage in Belgian fashion – it was quite hilarious to watch all of the stiff military personnel (mostly men) chuckle uncomfortably as she showed a video of Bernard Willhelm’s Spring/Summer 2004 presentation parodying the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in which partially-clothed men walked out of a closet (literally) wearing camouflage and face paint and then proceeded to irreverently jump on a couch (see the video at the bottom of this post).

Van Godtsenhoven is a relatively new fashion curator with a promising future – “Unravel,” the exhibition on view now at Momu, is the first time she has taken the helm as lead curator (along with the guest curator Emmanuelle Dirix, a lecturer at Central Saint Martins and Antwerp Fashion Academy.)  Following is an interview in which she talks about why she chose to dissect knitwear in fashion, what some of the challenges were in mounting an exhibition on this topic, and who she thinks some of the best knitwear designers are today. Her upcoming projects include exhibitions about Nudie Cohn and Walter Van Beirendock.

Fashion Projects: What inspired you to curate a show about knitwear in fashion?

Van Godtsenhoven: It’s been a favorite subject and fascination of ours here for years. It was literally a research file ‘in the cupboard’ waiting to come out. With the current vogue for knitwear with young designers, but also the popularity of knitting within the wider public (think knitting cafés,, guerrilla knitting), we thought it was the right time for the subject to come out of the closet.

Unravel Installation,  MoMu, Antwerp, Photo: Frederik Vercruysse

You selected a mix of historical and contemporary pieces – besides the actual structure of the garments (non-woven, single element) did you find any surprising similarities or differences in how knitwear was used in the past as compared with today?

Yes, the changing status of knitwear in fashion is a subject of endless study possibilities. Whereas we see knitwear emerging very early on as a kind of handmade utility garment (related with warmth, hygiene and sturdiness – this element is still with us today), machine knitting is also a very old technique (16th century, long before the industrial revolution), which was very technologically advanced and resulted in very fine gauze- like materials. There are a few dresses and jackets in the show from the 17th, 18th and 19th century, of which many visitors cannot believe that they are knitted, the same goes for many of the 19th century socks: they are embellished and knitted so finely it looks like embroidery or lace. So, before the industrial revolution, machine knitting was considered high-class. Now we see an opposite appreciation: handmade goods are more costly than machine made ones.

There are many continuing ideas about knitwear (jersey is still used for sportswear, handmade goods are still associated with the domestic sphere and now also the DIY movement), but the short history of knitwear in fashion shows that there have been many (r)evolutions: from underwear and swimwear to Chanel’s jersey dresses and marine sweaters, to Schiaparelli and Patou’s abstract motifs, to the knitted A line dresses in the sixties, as a result of the sexual revolution, and the deconstructed 1990s knitwear that had its origins in the 1970s punk movement. Knitwear has always gone with the waves of society, and that makes it very interesting. I think the so called ‘revival’ (whilst knitwear has never really been away from the catwalk) of knitwear these days can be linked to heightened ecological awareness and a longing for handmade and body-hugging goods, and I’m curious in which form it will come back in the future.

Bathing suit by Elsa Schiaparelli, ca. 1928 (c) Condé Nast Archive/CORBIS

Were there any challenges to exhibiting knitwear pieces, especially due to conservation issues?

Yes, both the heavy and voluminous pieces, as well as the fine gauze-like knits weigh themselves down under their own weight: knitwear is a more ‘open’ material than a woven cloth and will hence open up even more when hanging. This is a risk for skirts and dresses stretching, or growing longer up to 40 cm in the 5 months they are on show.

We covered the busts and mannequins with a fine jersey, which ‘clings’ well to the knitted silhouettes and keeps the pieces in place – we also provided waist and hip supports for the dresses. The very frail pieces are displayed flat in cases. Knitwear is really always best kept flat…I’ve learned this from my own experience!

Tilda Swinton for Sandra Backlund. Published in Another Magazine, Autumn 2009 (c) Photography by Craig McDean, Styling by Panos Yiapanis

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Posted in Designers, Exhibitions, General, Interviews, Museums, Uncategorized

Cosa Vostra: Contemporary Art in Italy

Michelangelo Pistoletto

It’s sad to report that drastic budget cuts to be enacted in 2011 threaten the health of contemporary art museums in Italy—an area which is already underfunded vis-a-vis the rest of Europe.

AMACI, the association of Contemporary Art Museums in Italy, is launching a campaign “Cosa Vostra” to publicize the imminent cuts and to raise awareness of the importance of contemporary art to Italy’s past, present and future.

Among the artists who contributed by allowing their work to be used in promotion of the campaign are Carla Accardi, Stefano Arienti, Maurizio Cattelan, Enzo Cucchi, Marisa Merz, Luigi Ontani, Giulio Paolini, Mimmo Paladino, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Paola Pivi and Francesco Vezzoli.
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Posted in General, Museums

Julie Gilhart leaving Barneys

Julie Gilhart speaking at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

It is quite sad to report that Julie Gilhart will no longer be Fashion Director and Senior Vice President at Barneys. Together with Judy Collinson, who will also be leaving Barneys, she championed emerging, often experimental designers in an otherwise often mind-numbing department-store horizon.

What’s more, Gilhart was an early and outspoken supporter of sustainable designers, such as John Patrick Organic and Loomstate, and also, more generally, of sustainable consumption/production practices of good design which followed a realistic tempo for fashion. She often brought Dries Van Noten, an independently owned company and designer, who produces two well-made collections yearly as an example of integrity in design. Gilhart has spoken on the topic of sustainability in design quite extensively, including at the panel Sarah Scaturro and I moderated at Pratt in conjunction with the “Ethics+Aesthetics” exhibition, as well as contributing to our exhibition catalogue. She also spoke at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

Partially the victim of an incredibly ill-timed over-expansion, Barneys seems to be destined to go down-market or, perhaps more simply in a generic direction. This decision seems an ill-advised attempt at temporarily saving their bottom line while in the long run diluting their brand identity and potentially damaging their bottom line more permanently. (Brands like the Gap and/or American Apparel, albeit completely different in scope, are clear examples of such a downward spiral.)

If that’s the case—and taking away the unique and quirky aesthetic of Gilhart and Collinson from the mix seems to suggest it is—one will be hard-pressed to see why the so-called luxury consumer would shop at Barneys over Net-a-Porter, or, if outside New York, at a department store such as Neiman Marcus.


Posted in Designers, General, Sustainable Fashion

A Textile Arts Community Grows in Brooklyn

Summer Camp at the Textile Arts Center

I first heard about the Textile Arts Center (TAC) from my friend Isa Rodrigues, a textile conservator and fiber enthusiast who works there as the studio manager. She kept telling me I needed to meet the “TAC girls” because not only were they young and cool, they were doing something that nobody else in the city was doing – singlehandedly crafting together a vibrant community of like-minded people interested in textiles and fiber arts. I stopped by one of their free open-house weaving sessions that they have every last Friday of the month, and I was thrilled with the beauty of the space, the incredible looms, the colorful spools of yarn and the welcoming feeling that greeted me. Once I met Visnja Popovic and Owyn Ruck, the co-founders of TAC, I was instantly swept up by their enthusiasm and commitment towards forging a place where textile experts, novices, enthusiasts, and artists can learn and practice this most ancient of arts. Owyn took a moment out of her busy schedule to talk to Fashion Projects about their work and vision for the Textile Arts Center.

Fashion Projects: Recently TAC has gotten a lot of people in the local fashion and textile
 fields buzzing, even though it seems like you popped out of nowhere.
 Can you give us a little information on the backstory of the center 
and tell us about your gorgeous new space in Brooklyn?

Textile Arts Center: Buzzing?! Are they? That’s good to hear…I feel like we have our noses to the ground, pounding work out without taking a second to stop and see how much we’ve changed in the past year.

Textile Arts Center started just over a year ago in a small weaving studio in Park Slope. Visnja and I really wanted to expand to offer other programs, especially for adults, and create the “center” we envisioned. I think the main thrill was in bringing together everyone with a love for fibers, or even slightest interest, and creating the environment that was comfortable, fun and really conducive to making great work. The feeling of art school, without going back to art school.

We went through a long process of finding the right space, kind of with haste at one point… But we found this one after a few mishaps! And that’s what’s important. It felt like home immediately. Our move to Carroll St was in April and since then we’ve just sort of grown. I think a big part of that growth was feeling secure in what we were presenting to the public. The space speaks a lot for itself and we’ve been working hard to reach the right audiences with the confidence that we are doing something people could really love.
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Posted in General, Interviews, Sustainable Fashion, Textiles, Uncategorized

Conference Review: Finding Our fashion Footing

by Marco Pecorari

What is the Future of Fashion studies? If one year ago affirmed fashion scholars met in Warwick to find an answer (McNeil 2010), “Finding Our Fashion Footing” was the occasion for Phd students to discuss their research future as a possible answer to such challenging question.

Organized the last 19th March by the research students at London College of Fashion and the Center for Fashion Studies – Stockholm University, this first International Fashion Phd workshop was hosted by LCF. The presentation of each project was the occasion to discuss, problematize and individualize personal experiences, methodological issues and future research connections. As the title of the meeting suggests, it was also an opportunity for placing each individual work in a global geography of Fashion research.

The one-day meeting started with a session on Style and Youth Culture that saw the presentation of “The Indie Project: style and youth culture in London” by Rachel Lifter. Her research cuts across three diverse trajectories: the London fashion environment, theoretical style’s approaches and contemporary youth culture. Despite the diverse disciplinarian affiliation, Lifter’s use of Foucault’s discourse is shared by Pecorari’s Phd that aims to argument an archeology of the fashion discursive formation on contemporary ephemera through three different but generative dimensions of such discourse: academia, museum and designers.

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Posted in Designers, General, Lectures, Research/University Programmes

Spring Fashion Events around NYC

Jane Fonda in Klute

by Sarah Scaturro

This spring there are a lot of events occurring around NYC with fashion as the main focus. Here is a breakdown of the ones that I’ve been able to find, and they are all free! Please leave a comment if I’ve left anything out.

April 9th – Richard Martin Visual Culture Symposium
Tonight is the Annual Richard Martin Visual Culture Symposium at NYU, which allows the graduating students of the Visual Culture MA program to lecture on their thesis topic. Worn Through has a breakdown of the topics and schedule.

April 13th, 20th and 27th – Fashion In Film: New York City
The brand new MA program in Fashion Studies at Parsons The New School for Design is hosting a fashion in film series for the entire month of April. Curated by Jeffrey Lieber, Assistant Professor of Visual Culture Studies, the series has some fashion classics – Annie Hall and Sabrina – but also some lesser-known films with impressive fashions, such as Klute (Jane Fonda) and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (Barbara Streisand).

April 15th – 16th Bard Graduate Center Annual Symposium
Bard Graduate Center is having their annual symposium on April 15-16th on the topic of Secondhand Culture: Waste, Value, and Materiality. I can’t wait for to hear Senior Curator of Costume at the ROM Alexandra Palmer speak on “Back to Back: Retro-fitting Fashion within the Museum.” There will also be a screening of the film “Secondhand.”

April 19th – Anna Wintour Lecture
According to NY MAG Anna Wintour is giving a free lecture on the 19th at 6 pm at Pratt Institute.

April 22nd – FIT’s 4th Annual Sustainable Business & Design conference
This year’s theme is Redesigning for a Sustainable Future. Go here for more information.

April 27th – Mannequins in the Museum: Perspectives on Curating Fashion
The lecture I’m most excited for is by Joanne Dolan Ingersoll, a truly talented curator from RISD. She will be giving a lecture for SVA’s Design Criticism MFA lecture series on a topic I have great interest in due to my work: “Mannequins in the Museum: Perspectives on Curating Fashion.”

April 29th – Predicting Color Trends in Fashion
FIT is hosting the seriously hardworking historian Reggie Blaszczyk on April 29th when she’ll give a lecture on the history of predicting color trends. I was fortunate enough to meet her at the Business History conference last year in Milan – I had just read her article on Dorothy Liebes called “Designing Synthetics, Building Brands” in the Journal of Design History. As someone who studies synthetics and has handled Liebes’ textiles, the article about blew my mind.

May 4th – Towards Sustainable Fashion Symposium
In conjunction with the Scandinavian House’s Eco-Chic exhibition, there will be a panel discussion featuring Marcus Bergman, Karin Stenmar, Sass Brown and Eviana Hartman, and moderated by Hazel Clark, Dean of the School of Art and Design and Theory, Parsons: The New School for Design.

May 8th – FIT’s Annual Fashion and Textiles Symposium
This year’s topic for FIT’s Annual Fashion and Textiles Symposium on May 8th sounds great – Americans in Paris: Designers, Buyers, Editors, Photographers, Models, and Clients in Paris Fashion.

May 21st and 22nd – Costume Collections: A Collaborative Model for Museums
The Brooklyn Museum and the Costume Institute are hosting a 2-day symposium about their new costume collaboration. I’m looking forward to seeing both exhibitions this spring!

Posted in Exhibitions, Film, General, Lectures, Museums, Sustainable Fashion, Uncategorized

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About Fashion Projects

Fashion Projects began in New York in 2004, with the aim to create a platform to highlight the importance of fashion — especially “experimental” fashion — within current critical discourses. Through interviews with a range of artists, designers, writers and curators, as well as through other planned projects and exhibits, we hope to foster a dialogue between theory and practice across disciplines.

We are primarily a print journal, however we also publish web-based updates and interviews (a “digest” version of which you can receive by signing up to our mailing list or via our RSS feed) and are currently working on exhibits based on past and future issues. To order any of our issues visit our ordering page.

We are a nonprofit organization, which has previously received grants from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

We are currently a sponsored project by the New York Foundation of the Arts, a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization. Contributions on behalf of Fashion Projects can be made payable to the “New York Foundation of the Arts,” and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the law. For more information please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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