Tartan & Hair

Alexander McQueen, "Highland Rape" collecion, AW 95-96

Among the number of fashion titles to be published this year, two caught my attention most, partially because they are both focused on a single “material” or textile. The first discusses the history of tartan and its symbolic significance up to the present day.

Particularly fascinating is the book’s discussion of the traditional, yet rebellious lineage of Tartan, which was exploited by contemporary designers such as Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, as well as by artists like Matthew Barney. Written by Jonathan Faiers, it is the first in a series by Berg titled “Textiles that Changed the World” dedicated to one single textile. The next book in the series will be on felt.

Also of interest, is a collection on hair—Hair Styling, Culture and Fashion (to be published by Berg and edited by Geraldine Biddle-Perry, Sarah Cheang )—which discusses the cultural and symbolic import of hair both on and off the body, with articles ranging from “Fashionable Hair In The Eighteenth Century: Theatricality and Display” (by Louisa Cross) to “Hairpieces: Hair, Identity and Memory in the Work of Mona Hatoum” (by Leila McKellar).

Mona Hatoum, Hair Necklace, 1995