Fashion matters in many ways

The fashion industry is fascinating and diverse. Fashion matters from various economic, social, and aesthetic points of view are the topic of this blog. Join me on a quest to document, analyze, and comment on this industry that touches everyone. This blog will examine matters related to fashion and why fashion matters.

The hands behind the brands

I have had the great honor and pleasure to meet and learn from some of the women who worked in the French Haute Couture ateliers: Mme. Picot, Mme. Ivagnes, Mme. Lenoir. They are talented, driven, and highly skilled. Their criteria and quest for quality is unparalleled. Not being able to travel to the Paris American Academy, where they share their knowledge, has been frustrating! This video brought me back to that world. I highly recommend watching!

#chanel #paris #fashion #craft #fashion design #draping #patternmaking #parisamericanacademy #hands #skill #making

I have been in a pandemic-induced silence, and today I am motivated to speak. Interestingly, what motivated me is the fact that Vogue magazine has commissioned artists for the cover of the September 2020 issue. As I have been preparing to teach the talented fashion design class of 2021, the Art/Design relationship has been in the forefront of my thoughts – and voila! Vogue not only gave credence to my direction, but the sublime and intense result is visually and intellectually stimulating. Enjoy and please comment.

Finding what we need closer to home

The Covid-19 situation has led us to a world where our the provenance of our possessions will be in flux. “Up to 90% of all goods are made in China. We already know that the design processes for fall/winter (fashion) products are not happening as they should be.” – Trend forecaster Li Edelkoort

Quote from https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/corona-virus-fashion-industry/?utm_source=Highsnobiety+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ab54b5b857-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_54b284222a-ab54b5b857-86089193&mc_cid=ab54b5b857&mc_eid=cdf34a1559

People have been talking about “made local” in many ways, for several years now: farm-to-table, slow fashion, eco-friendly, re-shoring, and lowering the carbon footprint are only a few catch phrases describing this idea. Interestingly, for most of my mother’s life, “made local” wasn’t a hip idea, nor did it come from a studied voice of alarm for the planet. Made local was a survival mechanism. My mother grew up in extreme poverty in Southern Illinois, and her focus every day as she raised her family in the mid-20th century was making local. Not an easy task, but it served us well.

Depression-era mindfulness

In 1929 when my mom was five her father died from pneumonia, leaving her mother with three children and no way to provide for them. As a child, for a few years, my mom knew hunger and thirst like no child should. They moved in with my great-grandfather and things got a bit better. Stories of going to the movies for a quarter and long walks to barn dances reveal that she found pleasure in life. My mom was very smart, but she did not have a formal education past 8th grade. She tried going to high school, but she didn’t have money for clothes or books, so she started cleaning houses for 50 cents a week.

She and my father started a life together in 1942, living in the deep country (an hour by Model T Ford to the closest town of 1,000), when she was 17 and he was 20. His father was a farmer, so they lived about half of a mile from them and worked the land together. Along with our parents we all worked hard and prospered. Both of my parents have left this world and the family farm trust they founded helps their children and children’s children even today.

As a family when I was growing up, we ate farm-raised beef and chickens. During the summer, my mother’s enormous garden fed us all (they raised eight children) and she would often say, with pride (and sometimes exhaustion), that everything on the table came from our home.

The habits my parents formed during their childhood and early married life never left them, even when their finances were flourishing. “Waste not, want not” was their slogan. Pop would never let a jelly jar be tossed without adding milk to it, shaking, and drinking the sweet flavor. My mother never threw food away; what wasn’t fit to save as leftovers she tossed to the chickens or cooked into a mush for the dogs and cats. These actions were not for a cause, and they were no longer driven by external forces; they reflected my parent’s values.

Textiles and not wasting

In terms of textiles, mom and her contemporaries sewed clothes for their children and made quilts out of the left over scraps. I would estimate that in her lifetime she participated in the making of over a thousand quilts. She would get so aggravated at people who “went to the store” to buy fabric for a quilt. I sometimes sleep under a quilt made by the hands of my mother and her friends and cousins that was sewn with left-over fabric from one of my favorite sundresses as a teenager.

When my mom came to visit me in Paris, France, where we designed, manufactured, and sold our own line of clothes, what do you think she took home? No snow globe of the Eiffel Tower for her; she gathered the production scraps from our cutting room and took them home to make something else.

Local is worth it

So, I guess my point is, making and consuming locally-made food and clothing is nothing new. It’s more difficult in most cases than just buying a cheap import or processed package of food, but when we look at the overall value proposition, it is time well spent.

As we move forward in this complicated time – an environment of human-accelerated climate change, and now virus-imposed change, I believe we need to revisit our values – to teach ourselves, our contemporaries and the next generations that valuing our possessions and making the effort to buy local will be good for us all in the end.

I will close with a quote from another great person. Almost as great as my mom. LOL. Thanks to my friend Karin Beerten in Antwerp for the Facebook post:

“If you are cheap, nothing helps.” – Karl Lagerfeld


Back to the future: Super Bowl 2020 Halftime’s sexuality over sound.

I’ll start this post by saying that the Missouri pro sports teams are on fire! The KC Chiefs win is the point of last night’s Super Bowl, but given my perspective, I have to pause a moment and ask, why does entertainment continuously make sexualizing the woman’s body as important or even more important than her voice? Am I the only one who was put off by all that fringed booty-shaking and body exposure of the women, while the men were covered, literally from head to toe?

A quick Google search this morning shows I’m not the only one: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/music/2020/02/02/jennifer-lopez-shakira-super-bowl-show-praised-this-my-america/4642026002/

Many see the show as empowering. But they are missing the dichotomy of how the women were presented vs. the men on stage. They are ignoring (or ignorant) of the effect of the historic power dynamic objectifying women has given us, in particular the Gender Pay Gap , and continued sexual assault.

Watching the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show, one would think we were in the 20th Century, before the world supposedly became “woke” about objectifying women… has the #metoo movement really had so little of an effect? What will Jennifer Lopez’s 11-year-old daughter aspire to? How can we expect our young men to look beyond the female body when such important events and superstars emphasize sexuality so explicitly that it dominates the vocal talent?

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NY has a great exhibit right now about the the power of clothing: Power Mode – it’s very well done, but the Super Bowl 2020 halftime makes me realize that the curators could have included a section about the use of clothing for power in the entertainment industry for a more comprehensive story. The exhibit alludes to the topic of my post, and this photo I took of a label at the exhibit puts my reaction to the halftime show and the reaction of the supporters of the show.



When does public domain of a copyright apply to fashion design ? A two-sided super-complex lawsuit

When does public domain of a copyright apply to fashion design? Check out this article by the website, The Fashion Law. It provides an overview of the complexities encountered when you consider professional photographers, designers, and celebrities all working to make a living through capitalizing on the voyeur/exhibitionist culture we live in. It is an exciting time where new rules need to be written for the fashion side of copyright. https://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/moschino-responds-to-paparazzi-photo-lawsuit-you-infringed-our-copyright-in-the-dress

Fashion design as entertainment

Well, Netfilx is officially encroaching on #projectrunway with a new series, #nextinfashion . Haven’t watched this yet, but quite intrigued. Interesting how fashion design is still an entertainment moneymaker but… IT”S NOT AS EASY AS THESE SHOWS MAKE IT LOOK!

Too bad they didn’t ask me what topics they should include. The focus of the show lineup is so 20th Century – red carpet, streetwear, underwear, denim, suits, activewear, rock… where is #sustainabledesign ? #technology ? #designwithintent ?#desigforhealth ? Fashion is about pretty clothes, but as we go forward, fashion needs to BE much more.  #design #fashiondesign #designer #entertainment #netflix #sustainability

VR for fashion – do it!

We’ve been seeing virtual reality in many fields for over a decade. It’s time for fashion to embrace the potential of VR! I read in Vogue of the Carlings “Last Statment” shirt where you can get your need for fashion change without tossing your t-shirt and getting a new one: a sustainability move that is definitely not granola! This is a start, but how can we take the concept further? #AR #sustainability #doit #fashion #fashiondesign #fashionmatterstoo

Body image for Carlings makes AR shirt for eco-and-style-conscious protest generation

Image credit: https://www.contagious.com/news-and-views/carlings-creates-ar-statement-t-shirt-for-eco-and-fashion-conscious-protest-generation

Identity: Look modern. Forget fashion and all its baggage.

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity lately. Reading books like Transorientalism in Art, Fashion, and Film: Inventions of Identity by Adam Geczy, and Philosophical Perspectives on Fashion edited by Giovanni Matteucci and Stefano Marino has been supplemented by a workshop with George Aye at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art at Washington University in St. Louis and thinking about the upcoming Ai Wei Wei exhibit at the Wash U Kemper Museum of Art – all within the context of the global discourse on migration, immigration, and exile.

So, thinking about my own identity as I prepared for my day today, I was struggling with my appearance. I wanted to feel like I look… young but not too young, my age, but not too old, hip and not ridiculous I had a hard time articulating to myself what I want to look like! I settled on “modern and connected and put together.” A statement from my reading comes to mind; I wanted to please what I think people will think other people think about my appearance.” That is, I wanted to be what some people call, ‘in fashion.’ I have read that fashion is “age therapy” and “self-esteem therapy.”

I am starting to have an aversion for that word (Fashion) and all the baggage (no pun intended) it brings to the table. Going forward, I’m going to try to forget fashion and all its baggage. My goal is to cultivate a modern, connected and put-together persona. Ironically, I predict that fashion will happen in that environment automatically.

De-siloing Sustainability

Recently, I have come to an epiphany (!) about sustainability. I had considered sustainability to be one of the areas of my design and research. The shift is to realize that sustainable principles are the overarching umbrella that influences EVERYTHING. When considering that sustainability is working today for the long-term future, everything, from business models to material choices to production practices to consumer behavior needs to be considered. The background of this post is a picture of the re-invented corn silo in Cape Town that is now the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art, one of the places where that inspired my realization that sustainability is about more than materials or energy. It’s also about people, systems, and behaviors. #zeitzmocca #capetown #fashionmatterstoo #wustlfashion #sustainabilbity #fashion #fashion design #designthatmatters #fashionmatters #souloffashion

Textile craft matters

Fashion would not exist without materials; weaving is one of the oldest crafts and preserving tradition while pushing innovation is an essential part of the fashion conversation. I just discovered this delightful podcast, an interview with Mario Sierra telling the story of a family weaving business in northern Ireland, Mourne Textiles. A lovely story of growing up in a weaving studio and keeping the family legacy alive. All images on this post are from https://mournetextiles.com/


Mourne Textiles has a lovely journal on their site that gives insight into the creative process: https://mournetextiles.com/blogs/journal/pinch-x-mourne-textiles-for-london-craft-week-19

The podcast was done by Material Matters, and tells stories about all sorts of materials. Worth checking out.

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