We’re so glad you’ve returned to check out our new issue! We couldn’t be more excited about the content of this one, and we hope it’s coming at the perfect time for you to sit back and enjoy some reading and looking over the holidays.
In our last issue, we introduced ourselves by laying out our vision of what we think the field of fashion studies looks like today: it’s dynamic and open, but built on a foundation of theory, history, research, practice, and the personal. It’s about art, bodies, books, images, and feelings.
After giving you the lay of the land as we see it, this issue was a little more able to roam further and freer, and see where we ended up. We’ve stretched in a few new directions, like the two incredible visual essays included here by way of introduction to a new recurring section, and the fun, timely commentary pieces updated every Monday in our Weeklies column. Now’s a good time to catch up on any you’ve missed!
One theme that emerges from this issue as a whole is the personal nature of our relationships to dress, and even to other aspects of fashion including media-viewing and the work we do as professionals. Reflections on the self (or maybe the Self, if we want to get serious), overt and otherwise, run through this collection of pieces. Is it just us, or have the events of the last two months forced a lot of us inward to examine what we need to brave a changed world? Clothing, our social skin, is one of the most important sites from which to negotiate one’s shifting relationship to the world. Looking inward doesn’t mean ignoring the world and its challenges—it’s just the first step to facing it and hopefully changing it for the better!
In our Essays section, the self rears its head in two very different ways: Roberto Filippello examines the imagery of safe-sex advertisements aimed at gay men and their potential correlation to the real-world sexual practices of those who are meant to see themselves reflected therein, while our Managing Editor, Lauren Downing Peters, reflects upon the trend forecasting industry from the unique position of a transient worker, in but not of the culture.
The role of the self is perhaps most evidently at the forefront of our returning What We’re Wearing section, where dress practices are explicitly laid out as clues to Who We Are. Woven throughout are themes of sexual, generational, and national identity. You know, just the usual fluff. Ha!
Lest we be accused of typical selfie-taking Millennial navel-gazing, let’s remember that thinking about the self is far from new or unique to this moment. Our Histories section keeps this in mind as we bring you pieces about the Countess of Castiglione’s experimentation with photography and the ways that early paper dolls helped children understand the process of self-fashioning through dress.
The Notes from the Field column returns this issue with two perspectives on practice-based fashion research: one from within the academy and one from beyond it. Julia Valle Noronha and Namkyu Chun of Helsinki’s Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture bring us the first installment of a series on innovative pedagogy in their fashion programs. This is a must-read for anyone teaching design students or attempting to bring design and humanities concepts into closer conversation in the classroom. Meanwhile, Cat Tyc explores how the practice of the community clothing swap opens up research channels into feminism and commodification, clothing and the body as sites of human connection, and once again, the role of the self in research. Once you’ve read Cat’s piece, click on over to her special Reading List created just for FSJ readers interested in multi-media opportunities to delve into these themes.
Our Reviews space is, as always, focused on the work of our peers and mentors working in the museum and on the page, highlighting the exciting work being done in fashion curation around the world. This time around: Black Fashion Designers at The Museum at FIT, The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined at the Barbican, and Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion at the Costume Institute at the Met. An embarrassment of riches!
For something a little different, our book reviews eschew the strictly timely (although you should definitely still check out Chloe Chapin's thoughtful review of Christopher Breward's instant classic, The Suit) and go for the classic: the reissued Sex and Suits and the under-the-radar gem The Beautiful Fall. Inspiration to dig a little deeper in those library stacks.
Speaking of inspiration, we have two Profiles for you in this issue, each of a female design innovator. Louise Coffey-Webb, author of Managing Costume Collections: An Essential Primer (reviewed in FSJ Issue 1), explores Zandra Rhodes’s surprising career designing costumes for opera, while Kim Jenkins interviews swimwear designer Maayan Sherris about breaking out of the bathing-suit box.
Well, we know you’ve got a lot of reading to do, so get to it! We’re always here for your feedback, suggestions, and pitches for future articles. Please enjoy a safe, happy, and peaceful holiday season, and we’ll see you back here in 2017!
The FSJ Editorial Team (December 21, 2016)