The hard copy of my essay arrived!


The illustrations for my Brooklyn Rail essay, “The African Roots of Modern Fashion,” garnered me a beautiful two-page spread. Go Afrochic!


New essay published on Afrochic

emilie grigsby BEIN 1130202.jpg

My piece, “The African Roots of Modern Fashion,” is a part of the lastest Brooklyn Rail Critics Page on art and fashion edited by Alexandra Schwartz. It provides some insight into my current research. Pleased to be in the company of Valerie Steele, Juliet Bellow, Rhonda Garelick, and Saya Woolfalk!

I offer up another Afrochic tidbit in celebration: Carl Van Vechten’s 1934 portrait of socialite Emilie Grigsby. The leopard couture gown she is wearing is now in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum:



Man And Women Harlem Style, 1920’s

In the Spotlight: The Politics of Fashion

Amber Butchart: Fashion Historian

I’m not a beautiful woman, I’m nothing to look at, so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else – Wallis Simpson

How unfortunate, considering the recent behaviour of former Dior designer John Galliano, that his muse for the last collection before his antisemitic rants became public knowledge was alleged Nazi sympathiser Wallis Simpson. The Dior pre-fall A/W 2011 collection designed with Wallis in mind not only tuned into Galliano’s own obsession with 30s styling and bias-cutting, but also paid homage to one of fashion’s most enduring, yet problematic, personalities. In his veneration of Simpson, Galliano is not alone. With roles in quadruple Oscar-winner The King’s Speech (2010) and highly acclaimed Channel 4 adaptation ‘Any Human Heart, not to mention the forthcoming Madonna-directed W.E. (with fashion by Dior/Galliano amongst others), the Duchess of Windsor is back on the fashion radar with a vengeance.


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EXH REV: “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art


AMW with nefertiti hat

I didn’t have the chance to discuss this photograph of Anna May Wong wearing a hat referencing the one worn by Neferetiti in her famous portrait bust in my recent talk about Egyptomania and fashion — and I don’t even know why Wong was photographed wearing it — but it’s such a great image so I couldn’t resist acknowledging it in some public manner.