On the "Black Designer"

In an industry that doesn’t like to talk about race (let alone blackness), it’s rare for designers, who identify as black, to readily insert identity politics into their brands. The fear, perhaps, emerges from the fact that doing so could pigeonhole them into a singular narrative of blackness – one that could result in them being unattractive to customers, investors, and the media. 

Alex Katz and American Fashion

Painter Alex Katz is so closely attuned to the fashion scene, specifically to the New York fashion scene, that it could be said that he has at times created or at least anticipated major shifts in it. Even his "sweet, unassuming" paintings have a predictive quality to them. Indeed, Katz and fashion form a kind of symbiosis. 

What's so Fashionable About HIV?

Unpacking how masculinity is embodied in images from HIV prevention material targeting a gay male audience, this essay explores how, through their streaming and modulation with the viewer’s body, such images become affective, thereby potentially informing our ideas of and identifications with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Ruth Finley Collection

As a fashion and textile historian who works closely with the Fashion Calendar archive, I am exceedingly privileged to not only have access to a previously un-investigated source that is so rich with information, but to be able to interact with the maker of the archive herself. This enables the archive to be continuously dynamic, since Finley’s knowledge about American fashion history is vast and mostly based on experience.

Race in Vogue: Finding Myself in a Space of Exclusion

My bouncy curls that were the product of a mixed heritage and symbolized a forward-looking world were seemingly not to be celebrated, at least not by the media and fashion industry. The fleeting moments of praise were shrouded in fetishism, and the sense of “otherness” was consistently present. Ironically, however, I continued to respect a system that did not respect me back.

The Unpublished Musings of Elizabeth Hawes

A hand-scrawled note reads: “Now that Fashion’s Gone to Hell And Dress has become neuter." The phrase floats alone in the center of a small note page—the type of thing one might expect to find today, coffee-stained and abandoned amid a mess of stir sticks and sugar crystals on a vacant table at Starbucks, except this particular note dates to a very pre-Frappuccino® era, written sometime around 1969 by the resident of apartment #429 of the famed bastion of New York bohemian culture, the Hotel Chelsea. It was written by the one-and-only Elizabeth Hawes.

Smuggled in the Bustle

In the late nineteenth century, there was steady coverage in The New York Times about the act of dress smuggling. This act, often referred to as "fashionable smuggling,” involved the practice of smuggling European-made gowns and dress goods into the U.S. Whether a quick report or an in-depth exposé, the focus of each story is smuggling's relationship with the women involved, and of the women who were reported to have smuggled.

The Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Atomic Bikini

It was an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, yellow polka dot bikini…. This catchy tune is as much a part of the summertime for many of us as ice cream. Despite years of singing this song on my way to the pool, it was only once I began researching the bikini’s origins that I found the multiple links between this popular swimsuit style and mid-20th century military developments.