“Africa Calling: Plumes and Prints” from The New York Times

Enduring Afrochic! I am investigating the historical origins of the fashion trend that had powerful currency throughout the 20th century. And it seems that “exotic” Africa will continue to inspire in the 21st century. Love and Theft! Love and Theft!

Africa Calling: Plumes and Prints 

Louis Vuitton, by Marc Jacobs, spring/summer 2014, in Paris.
Catwalking
By SUZY MENKES 
October 2, 2013 

PARIS — The news of the departure of Marc Jacobs from Louis Vuitton overshadowed the final day of the Paris summer 2014 collections. But people in the audience were reminded of the designer’s exceptional skill at creating great fashion moments by this presentation, all in black, of showgirl clothes.

The models, with their giant Folies Bergère feather headdresses and jet-embroidered chiffon, looked dramatic. But they gave the impression that the party performance was over, not least because bluejeans were often worn under the finery as if the dancers were making their way home.

Continue reading ““Africa Calling: Plumes and Prints” from The New York Times”

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Avant Tut interest in all things Egyptian

As we read about haute couture, and I reveled in the gloriousness of this practice of hand fabricated garments, I recalled one of my favorite opulent gowns from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection: this Egyptian Revival 1912 gown by a New York dressmaker that went by the moniker Simcox. I discussed in this garment in my presentation on Egyptomania and fashion for the Common Threads symposium last spring. This piece predates the discovery and opening of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, but it was from the year that the famous bust of Nefertitti was unearthed. The beaded embroidery embellishing the gown contains several Egyptian motifs, especially on the front bodice.

The Resurgent Fashion of the Thirties

The Resurgent Fashion of the Thirties

Here is a link to the September 5, 1938 issue of Life Magazine, particularly an article on Fall Fashions highlighting the (what was in hindsight very brief) resurgence of hoop skirts.

Here, too, is a commentary on the article and the RetroSpective show at the Museum at FIT from the Two Nerdy History Girls blog: http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-every-girl-should-know-about.html

50 Years Later: How Cleopatra Continues to Influence Fashion Today

Style & Design

Fashion is all about drama and Cleopatra’s life was full of it, from her legendary affairs with some of the most powerful men of their time to her struggles to maintain influence as ruler of Egypt. Even her death was not a quiet affair—a series of miscommunications led to both her and her lover Mark Antony committing suicide while believing that the other had already died, in a Romeo and Juliet-like twist. As a figure that was exotic (queen of a distant-seeming land) and yet accessible (she was not ethnically Egyptian but Macedonian), she was and has remained a singular influence in the world of style.

The extent of her beauty, based on statements from her contemporaries and numismatic artifacts, is debatable. But Cleopatra was by all accounts an exceptionally charming woman, one who intuited how to present herself in the most strategic manner. Similar to stars of today, Cleopatra…

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Track the Trend: Futurism in Fashion

Amber Butchart: Fashion Historian

This piece originally appeared as ‘Fashioning the Future’ in House magazine

Fashion is an industry built on obsolescence. As such an obsession with the future comes as no surprise; with a self-set mission to forge the styles of tomorrow, designers plunder the past in search of the Next Big Thing, scouring archives to create the fashions of the future. Somewhat ironically, fashion that claims to be futuristic in vision is often derivative – a profusion of styles from the last century have come to stand for the ‘future’ even while referencing the past. Concurrently, ideas of the future are often used to shape the present and can speak volumes about contemporary hopes, dreams and fears. So what does it mean that the spring 2013 catwalks were flooded with Sci-Fi looks and Space Age styling? It’s time to go back to the future.

Early last century the phenomenon was kick-started by…

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Magnificent Girls in Their Flying Machines – AMELIA EARHART: FLIGHT FASHION by Amber Jane Butchart

Hush-Kit

In 1929 the famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart became the first president of the ‘Ninety-Nines’ organization of women pilots. This ushered in an unprecedented decade of female aviation that saw an intrepid group of women fight for equality in the sky as well as the ballot box. It was a decade in which women set speed records (Jacqueline Cochran, 1939), solo flying records (Amelia Earhart, 1935) and beat male pilots at the Bendix Trophy Race (Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes, 1936). Names such as Amy Johnson and Beryl Markham garnered celebrity status and in Hollywood coveted aviatrix roles went to stars of the day such as Katherine Hepburn, Myrna Loy and Kay Francis.

But despite the unprecedented rise of the aviatrix, there is one to whom the fashion world repeatedly returns. Amelia Earhart was not only the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic (among setting a plethora of…

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