Exhibit: Cross Colours: Black Fashion in the 20th Century

What: Cross Colours: Black Fashion in the 20th Century
Where: California African-American Museum
When: September 27, 2019 – March 1 2020

“Cross Colours: Black Fashion in the 20th Century showcases vintage textiles, media footage, and rare ephemera that illuminate how Cross Colours has permeated popular culture and how fashion can be used to tell history anew.”

Learn More:

 

New Books: Fall

New titles you have may have missed for October and November!

Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion Marcella Reynolds, Harry N Abrams; October 2019
This Guy: Portraits of Modern Men’s Style Jamie Ferguson, Hardie Grant; October 2019
The Flowering Desert: Textiles from Sindh Hasan Askari and Nasreen Askari, Paul Holberton Publish; November 2019
Worn On This Day Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, Running Press Adult; November 2019

Fibershed: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers for a New Textile Economy  Rebecca Burgess and Courtney White, Chelsea Green Publishing; November 2019
Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale  Adam Minter, Bloomsbury Publishing; November 2019

Call for Papers

Fashion in the Library

Editors: Courtney Becks and Cristina Favretto
Manuscript Submission Deadline: December 1, 2019
Publication date: August 2021

Nature and Scope of the Issue

Certain fields are viewed as “for girls”–decorative arts, textiles, interior design, anyone?–and fashion is one of them. These “girl zones”  have traditionally not been considered worthy or serious fields of inquiry and practice like film, the fine arts, architecture, or music.“Girl zones” are not buttressed and validated by a discourse of mythic salvation and transcendence like the ones that benefit, for example, hip-hop or punk (i.e. music) or film. Academic inquiry into fashion and adjacent fields (and consideration for inclusion within Special Collections and archival environments) are very often ignored or belittled because they dare favor the feminine-coded body in opposition to the often masculine-coded mindset of what constitutes a valid subject of research and study.

Indeed, libraries and fashion, as both professions and fields of research, have more in common than might seem immediately apparent. Both fields are gendered spaces, typically coded feminine/female/femme. Because of their association with women and femme qualities, both libraries and fashion must justify their continued existence in ways the film industry, for example, never does. Both the fashion industry and the library field depend upon the passion and labor of women, yet have historically tended to reward male/masculine involvement and agency to a much greater degree. Though it is a given that the work of, for example, Alexander McQueen is of genius and worth saving, the work of the many seamstresses, pattern-makers, and “hands” within the industry is barely acknowledged; nor has the importance of women fashion journalists or editors been as documented and enshrined as that of men.

Starting in the 1990s, fashion studies began to emerge (in the wake of home economics’ name change) as an academic subject in its own right. Increasingly, attention is being paid to the importance of fashion history and practice in the study of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and class. 

In the early 21st century, fashion is a multibillion dollar global industry and cultural force. Popular culture idioms like fast fashion outlets and reality shows bring fashion to a vast audience.

It is clear that the study of fashion and its role in shaping self and society will not go away, and the intersection of fashion and libraries will increasingly offer an increasingly productive vector for inquiry.

Questions this issue will consider include (but will not be limited to): what role does fashion play in library collections, outreach programs, and programming? Where does fashion belong in the library? In Special Collections? In the archives? Are three-dimensional objects allowed? Should or can libraries collaborate with museums? How do we ensure that spontaneous yet relevant intricacies of “vernacular style” and self-presentation are documented, studied, and given the respect that other less loaded forms of artistic and self-expression are given? We hope this issue will be highly interactive, exploratory, revelatory…and revealing.

List of Potential Topics

  • Librarian Fashion Tropes
  • Where Does Fashion Reside in the Library?
  • Home Economics Collections
  • “Women’s Work”
  • Disappearance of Clothing Design/Textile/Apparel Programs at Land-Grant Universities
  • The Bureau of Home Economics
  • Documenting “Hand Work” (Seamstresses, Milliners, Pattern Designers) and Fashion-Related Small Businesses
  • Fashion Studies
  • Fashion Bibliographies
  • Fashion Librarians/hip
  • Fashion (In) Special Collections
  • Who Has Access to  Fashion Collections?
  • Importance of Library Collections to Fashion Studies
  • Researching Fashion (for Exhibits, Collections, Shows, Etc.)
  • Fashion Histories

This list is by no means exhaustive. The editors are excited to consider and enthusiastically encourage the submission of perspectives and topics that haven’t occurred to them.

Instructions for Submission

The editors for the Fashion in the Library issue of Library Trends invite authors to submit full manuscripts by December 1, 2019. Manuscripts should be sent to bexlib [at] illinois [dot] edu with the subject line “Library Trends Submission.”

All submissions should follow the Library Trends formatting guidelines. Authors should use the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition author-date format for citations and bibliography.

Manuscripts should include the author’s name, affiliation, and e-mail address. Editors will communicate with the only first author of co-authored manuscripts.

Authors will be notified of their manuscript’s acceptance status in late January 2020. The double-blind peer review process begins at the same time.

The Fashion in the Library issue’s publication date is August 2021.

Timeline

December 1, 2019                   Manuscript Drafts Due

January 20, 2020                      Peer Review Begins

April 30, 2020                          Peer Review Ends

May- August 30, 2020              Manuscript Revision Period

November 1,  2020                   Final Manuscripts Due to Editors

August 2021                             Final Publication

Editors

Courtney Becks (MA, MALIS) is the Librarian for African American Studies and the Jewish Studies Bibliographer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a former blogger and sometime fashion zinester. She is co-directing the Fashion, Style, & Aesthetics Research Cluster through the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities for the 2019-2020 school year. She can be reached at bexlib [at] illinois [dot] edu.

Cristina Favretto (MLS, CAS) joined the faculty of the University of Miami libraries in 2008 as the Head of Special Collections, where she curates collections documenting the history of Miami and South Florida, the Caribbean and South America, countercultural movements, artists’ books, architecture and art, and fashion. Before joining the Special Collections Department, Cristina has held a variety of posts throughout the country, including Head of Special Collections at San Diego State University, Curator of Rare Books at UCLA’s Charles E. Young Library, and Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University.  She has also worked at the Boston Public Library, Harvard University Libraries, and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. She received her M.L.S. and C.A.S. (Certificate of Advanced Studies) at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in English Literature and Art History at the State University of New York at Albany. Cristina spent her formative years in Trieste, Italy, and received her Baccalaureate from the Liceo Giosuè Carducci in that city. She also has had a shadow life as a performance artist and lead singer in a post-punk cabaret band.

FIT Fashion Research Survey

We would like to invite you to participate in our research project on access to fashion research collections. Our survey is designed to elicit information about access for outside researchers and visitors at top fashion research collections.

Participation in this survey is completely voluntary and should take no more than 8-10 minutes. 

Although our results may refer to particular libraries by name, no personally identifying information about individuals will be collected in this survey. We hope that your participation and the overall results will benefit the wider fashion research community by allowing us to better understand the current landscape of access to fashion research materials by researchers who are not affiliated with institutions holding these collections.

The survey is available at this link: http://fitnyc.libsurveys.com/loader.php?id=7b624e11633df6b86b342a3a17564af4

Only one response is necessary per institution, but please feel free to share this survey with colleagues working at other fashion research collections. The survey will be open through November 4, 2019.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Carli Spina (carli_spina@fitnyc.edu) or Lana Bittman (lana_bittman@fitnyc.edu). 

FTC and ARLIS NY Happy Hour – New York City – Nov 1

Members of the Fashion, Textiles, and Costume SIG and ARLIS New York are invited to join us for happy hour on Friday, November 1st at The Wheeltapper in New York City following the Fashion: Now & Then conference. Members of FTC, ARLIS New York, ARLIS/NA, and their guests are welcome. Registration is encouraged.

Mrinalini Mukherjee

Last month I got to see the exhibition Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee at The Met Breuer. Mukherjee worked in fiber, mostly hemp and cotton rope, before exploring ceramic and bronze at the end of her career. This was the first retrospective of the Indian sculptor, a collection of works that left New York Times art critic asking, “How on earth did someone even think to do this, never mind to do it?”

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above: Nag Devta (Serpent Diety), 1979: “Abounding with fecundity and vitality, the piece comingles male and female sexual attributed into a single form” (from the exhibition guide)

below: Apsara (Celestial Nymph), 1985

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in foreground: Pushp (Flower), 1993 – these works are inspired by the magnolia flower but clearly suggest female genitalia and erotic passion

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In the late 1990s, Mukherjee started to transition away from fiber, namely because the work was physically demanding and the locally sourced rope she used had changed fiber content and she could not dye the material to these gorgeous colors. Yet her ceramics have the same softness of movement as her fiber work, as seen below in Night Bloom I, 1999-2000.

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Her bronzes are cast from plant fragments and still allude to genitalia and possess a femininity not often seen in metalwork. Here are Palmscapes I and II from 2013.

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Camp: Notes on Fashion

Just before the exhibition closing, I got up to New York City to see the Costume Institute’s Camp: Notes on Fashion. The show layout is mimicked in the catalog – two volumes that are bound together. The first volume covers the first half of the show, the history and development of camp. For me, this was the best part of the show because it emphasized how intentional dress choice has been throughout history. My favorite piece was this Ocsar Wilde-inspired ensemble from Gucci’s 2017 menswear collection.

Gucci menswearThe second half of the exhibit largely took place in one, two-story room. This was full-on camp. In the catalog, this is volume two, a flip book of all the costume from modern and contemporary designers.

exhibit detailI had a lot of favorites from this huge exhibition, but fell in love with these House of Balenciaga ensembles from the 2016-2017 autumn/winter collection.

Balenciaga dresses

For those of you who couldn’t make it, I do recommend the catalog. The images of the costume portray the fabric and cut, and camp, in clean presentation. The essays are insightful and this was a well-researched show.

While at the Met I caught another show just ending, the textile work of Mrinalini Mukherjee. I’ll share images from that exhibition next month!