Excerpts from my latest scholarly contributions ... from design to pop culture.
“There's a historic (and false) presumption that women are irrational, frivolous, and flighty,” says Kim Jenkins, a visiting assistant professor of fashion history and theory at Pratt Institute and part-time lecturer at Parsons School of Design who specializes in the intersections between fashion, race, gender, psychology, and politics. “T-shirts that express a preoccupation or excitement over alcohol support an idea that ‘femininity’ and sobriety are distant relatives. We see men walk around in their favorite beer T-shirts, but there are fewer hoops to jump through when it comes to assumptions about their character.”
Read on for my sociocultural context contribution to this article on women and alcohol-themed t-shirts here.
“Graduating designers of color either need that crucial break from someone influential to scale the fashion hierarchy, or the boldness and savvy to circumvent the status quo and build a fashion system that works for them,” said Jenkins.
Read the rest of my commentary and observations on the state of the fashion system here.
"We are performing our identites” in everyday life, and clothes are a huge part of that expression, says Kim Jenkins, a visiting assistant professor of fashion design at the Pratt Institute. Your wardrobe houses your personal history, your sense of place in the culture, your ethnic identity. And a uniform says something special..."
Read the full article here.
“Military dress has had this trickle-down effect,” says Kim Jenkins, a visiting assistant professor of fashion design at the Pratt Institute, “and men wore these garments home, and they ended up on the street,” like the comparatively unvilified bomber jackets, for instance, or peacoats, or desert boots.
Read the full article here.
"FASHION IS ABOUT ILLUSION AND ESCAPISM SOMETIMES, BUT IT’S ALSO A PLATFORM FOR THE POSSIBILITY TO INVITE CHANGE."
Read the full article here.
Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger reveals itself to be an exhibition for our time, illuminating how the sharing of one’s individuality has become increasingly commonplace, as we, in one way or another, organize and display our own tastes, ideas, and personal style through social media. The narrative of how Barbara Berger has found solace throughout her life and navigated the bounds of her creativity can be found in this exhibition.
Bibhu Mohapatra has a keen eye for what the consumer wants. Holding a Master’s degree in economics before moving on to the Fashion Institute of Technology to study fashion design, Mohapatra worked as an assistant designer for the legendary label Halston, and subsequently was brought aboard the design team at J. Mendel where he helped revitalize the brand for a more youthful clientele. Working under his own namesake, Bibhu Mohapatra is re-introducing himself to the fashion world, visualizing his Fall 2012 collection with a fashion film directed by Katie Fischer.
When it comes to the dancing and moving body, the ‘Dance and Fashion’ exhibition shows us what is possible. Whether it is a garment that performs as an act of protest, an ornate embellishment for the body or the inspiration that provides a collection “moment” for a designer, the next movement of fashion has lept from the stage to the street.
McCharen’s accomplishments have bucked the fashion system, as she holds no formal fashion design training, and being a female designer with a feminist bent complicates things in an exciting way. Before we began our chat about her label Chromat, McCharen invited me to the studio’s balcony, where we took in a cinema-worthy view of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Despite having this idyllic landscape as the backdrop to her every workday, McCharen remains in disbelief of how far she’s come in a considerably short span of time.
It was a full house at Industria Superstudio in the Meatpacking District on the kickoff day of New York Fashion Week. Nestled in the upscale designer-friendly neighborhood just steps away from the Gansevoort Hotel, Becca McCharen’s modest beginnings in Lynchburg, Virginia and the relentless plugging away in her Brooklyn Navy Yard studio leading up to her Autumn/Winter 2013 presentation has finally paid off.
Magali Pettier and Jan Cawood of Tin Man Films fully understand that the primary purpose of a film is to tell a story, but they venture one step further as they specialize in teasing out the heart and soul of their subject matter with intimate narratives. Pettier and Cawood’s documentary, A Jacket for Life tells of the role a garment has in one’s life, specifically the time-honored Barbour jacket.
"Merging" represents a posture of our social “presence” (both online and off) in a world moving faster than we can fathom, and with more information than we can process. Consider it an elegant reflection of passive hoarding, with the collection’s model submerged in the technology of Reva’s fabrics and designs, much like ourselves, trapped in the quicksand that is every RSS feed, “like”, tweet, status update, blog post or news crawl. As a designer, Reva mediates this conundrum for us, layering the “information” that is the design and mass images within the fabrics against the human body, in effect aiding in a fashionable display of adaptation.
In a mini documentary created by Maison Vuitton to explain the collaboration, Jacobs dovetails Kusama’s love for the infinitely round with the seriality of the ubiquitous LV logo, stating that both express timelessness and endlessness. Kusama, whose body of work may not be familiar with younger audiences or the Louis Vuitton-toting jet set, is now able to relish in an encore of her designs, with Jacobs bringing art to both the catwalk and the sidewalk.
Perhaps carrying on the torch of Alexander McQueen’s aesthetic of fierce femininity, McCharen’s firm and calculated exoskeletons wrap the body in a manner that is both alluring and guarded. It is this evolved sense of design that offers a glimmer of hope in a fashion world where a woman’s voice and point of view is commonly muted.
It is often hypothesized that those creatures that wandered the earth before the existence of human life will most likely stick around following our demise. Enter the stylish, dark humor of directors Adia Trischler and Andreas Waldschuetz as their collaborative film, Mr. and Mrs. Bug (Dream A Vacation), contributes an interesting sentiment to the zeitgeist of apocalyptic renditions.
Sincere and inquisitive, [Michael] Connor has an enduring fascination with art and film and the magic behind it. As a young professional in the art field, Connor’s practice revolves around how we perceive imagery and how the development of technology continuously complicates that. Exploring the mechanics of the filmmaker’s creative delivery and the viewer’s sensory digestion of each film or work of art, conversations emerge, and Connor enjoys every moment of mediating this delicate engagement.
Combining her talents as a women’s wear designer and editorial stylist, Pola Thomson, born in Chile and currently based in New York, thrives on her art-focused aesthetic. As a means of sharpening her skills, Thomson cut her teeth at Central Saint Martins in London and Parsons The New School for Design in New York, and has recently teamed up with Spectrum Films director Cesare Serra to lusciously visualize her Fall/Winter 2012 campaign.
While the old saying that “it takes two” ensures a win-win, a newly emerged non-profit group, The Young Designers Project, expands upon this concept exponentially. As a troupe of creatives who have developed an online platform to present up-and-coming designers, YDP has kicked off their innovative mission with the inaugural theme, “Internet as Democracy”.
Minn Hur is soft-spoken and meditative, a man who is well in tune with his anachronistic sensibility, and who finds it more important to go with the flow of his inspirations rather than curate them. His business partner, Kevin Wang, a recent convert to the “gentleman lifestyle”, lures new admirers with his sociability and modernizes the label’s vintage look by managing its web presence. Together, Minn and Kevin are a potent mixture of charm and sharp business savvy, and on a crisp winter evening, they graciously welcomed me into their studio as we discussed the current state of menswear and their serendipitous link to Boardwalk Empire.
It’s encouraging to see labels the likes of threeASFOUR and A Détacher still plodding along every year, reconsidering the way we send fashion down the runway, all with their very own brand of sartorial spirituality, injecting a symbolic approach to the way we dress ourselves. We certainly hope to see more of it in the seasons to come.