The old rules are gone, crushed under the Nikes and Birkenstocks of our fathers, but in their place? Ruins. This is the general sentiment of the Styleforum crowd, a group of online menswear aficionados, who gathered en masse for the first iteration of a new, high-end trade show called “Proper Kit,” presented by Styleforum.
As academics, we’re taught to share our research by writing articles and books. These tools focus on the written word and our words are the primary means by which they’re framed. But what does the written word leave out? Whose stories are lost in the process of academic writing? By using the fashion show in research, I discovered a new method to share our work—a method which expands who knows and how we know in fashion studies and beyond.
By historical necessity, my mother and her friends were all latecomers to fashion—and to the kinds of self-expression and self-discovery that fashion critically enables.
I sat there in the back eyeing what I could see of the others, trying to figure out who would be my friends when you walked into the room and my brain went "HER". What I saw was you wearing your white t-shirt dress with the rose print on, black booties, a peacock feather tattoo, and an annoyed expression which I would later learn was your default expression at 9 am.
The return of the scrunchie began in 2013 with its appearance on the Missoni, Vivienne Westwood, and Louis Vuitton runways—an icon of bad taste turned ironic. Not everyone was amused. In England, especially, responses varied.
CONSUME(s) ME was born out of a conversation following a clothing swap I co-hosted with a friend. We were satisfied and congratulating ourselves for throwing a good party. My friend called me the ‘queen of clothing swaps’ and the statement stuck with me.
I first did drag my senior year of college, dressing in character with two of my girlfriends as a performance art piece. I borrowed their clothes and a cheap Ricky’s wig and bought a pair of cheap heels from Payless that I didn’t yet know how to walk in. I’ll never forget the first time someone referred to me as a “lady,” even though I still hadn’t quite figured out how to do my makeup.
This bathing suit bottom could almost be a full-sized strapless swimsuit for a smaller-than-average woman. Off the body, it’s not really recognizable as anything at all, because a garment like this doesn’t have a place in our mental store. It’s transitional, it’s temporary, it’s for these strange bodies we theoretically revere but that realistically freak us out.
At the recent March4Women rally in London there was plenty of evidence that we are all paying attention to how we display our political values. As a researcher, I often find that my best ideas for studies start like this, a glimmer of an idea sparked by a chance meeting; politics and revolution began to stitch together in my thoughts.
Questions of archiving imply questions of power that are closely linked to a social power in a given geographical place and time. In this way, the history is extended to the elderly socio-cultural group, whose dress practices and memory often go undocumented.
Returning from a fashionable SoHo party two years ago, wearing the highest pair of stiletto heels I owned, I rushed out, anxious to get home and take those things off. Outside, as I ran to hail a cab, I found myself in the midst of an impressive acrobatic flip. I was left kneeling on the sidewalk with a broken Miu Miu heel and countless questions.
I spent five years at the Centre for Fashion Studies as a PhD candidate, learning both the trade and the politics of academia. It was challenging in many ways, but it is through hardship that we grow the most, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to find myself a scholar in this field, regardless of the many obstacles that I found in my way.
For those working in fashion studies, the institution takes many forms: the university, the museum, the archive, the media outlet, the commercial fashion industry, the sponsoring or granting body. This is the nature of interdisciplinary work that engages with a behemoth as grand as fashion.
My style is a testament to the beauty and effortless cool that women of color, and in particular, BLACK women, possess. It was in this spirit that I chose to reflect the rich legacies of the black women who came before me through my visual project, #WhoButABlackWomyn.