Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion [Coming soon]

The Met Costume Institute’s spring 2024 exhibition, Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion will open this Friday and, according to the press release, will “explore notions of rebirth and renewal, using nature as a metaphor for the impermanence of fashion.”

Speaking to Vogue’s Luke Leitch, The Costume Institute’s Andrew Bolton explains “that the exhibition will be structured around approximately 15 historically significant and aesthetically beautiful pieces from the collection that are far too fragile ever to be worn again. ‘These are the ‘Sleeping Beauties’ of the title.'”

The Met writes that

the exhibition will feature original research, conservation analysis, and diverse technologies to revive and explore the sensory capacities of masterworks in the Museum’s collection. Using the natural world as a uniting visual metaphor for the transience of fashion, the show will explore cyclical themes of rebirth and renewal, breathing new life into these storied objects through creative and immersive activations designed to convey the smells, sounds, textures, and motions of garments that can no longer directly interact with the body.

The 2024 Met Gala, co-chaired by Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez, Anna Wintour and Zendaya, theme this year is “The Garden of Time,” a reference to the 1962 book of the same name by J.G. Ballard, connected to the exhibition by the idea of “fleeting beauty,” writes Vogue’s Lilah Ramzi.

The exhibition catalogue includes “engaging texts by scholars, scientists, and conservators reveal the history behind over 200 works of fashion while also addressing their fragility and ephemerality,” according to a blurb by Yale University Press.

The exhibition is scheduled to run in The Tisch Galleries, Gallery 899, Floor 2 at the Met on 5th Avenue, May 10 to September 2, 2024.

Header image: Jun Takahashi (Japanese, born 1969) for Undercover (Japanese, founded 1990). Dress, spring/summer 2024. Reinforced 3-D-printed clear resin containing purple silk plain-weave roses, green silk velvet leaves, and yellow and purple silk plain-weave butterflies overlaid with yellow nylon tulle and trimmed with yellow embossed leather. Courtesy Undercover / Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photography © Nick Knight, 2024

B(l)ending Research Methods: Reimagining a Theoretical Turn in Fashion Scholarship

The newest issue of Journal of International Fashion Studies has been released and is focused on fashion scholarship. From the abstract of the special issue:

Aiming to disrupt the way fashion studies is developed – often from a Eurocentric approach and within rigid disciplinary, methodological and social boundaries – this Special Issue invites different scholars to present their own way of studying and exploring fashion, but also to make their familiar methods strange, re-assessing what fashion means and what it means to do fashion research in the first place. Promoting an interdisciplinary dialogue, the articles in this Special Issue show how fashion studies would benefit from ‘bending’ existing methodological boundaries and blending cross-disciplinary methodologies, conceptual orientations, objects, ideas, forms, subjects and questions in their epistemological approach. We hope that the curation, organization and general assemblage of the texts give rise to the intellectual alchemy of unpredictable encounters: conversations, clashes and contradictions. From article to article, readers will encounter different ways of doing research on and through fashion and be inspired to imagine more divergent epistemologies of fashion.

Articles in this issue include:

  • “Against abstract universalisms in fashion theory: For a dialogical process of interpretation and translation”
    By Christine Delhaye
  • “Skimming fashion, or how to read skin-deep”
    By Misha Kavka
  • “Reflections on blending garment analysis with wardrobe interviews”
    By Sophie Wood
  • “Patching sites, patching data: Patchwork ethnography on fashion in and beyond pandemic times”
    By Johanna von Pezold
  • “Multi-sensory methods: Toward a crip methodology in fashion studies”
    By Ben Barry, Philippa Nesbitt and Megan Strickfaden
  • “Fashion as a cultural analysis object”
    By Marie-Aude Baronian
  • “The body as archive: A study of Calvin Klein One/Be ‘Altered States’ perfume campaign (1995) through the Somatheque model”
    By Francisco-José Garcia-Ramos, Daniel de las Heras and Álvaro Navarro Gaviño
  • “The trans gender subject of fashion”
    By Diego Semerene
  • “Rethinking fashion review with architectural fashion analysis method”
    By Vésma Kontere McQuillan
  • “Fashioning DIY digital archives: Unsettling academic research to centre garment workers’ voices”
    By Mary Hanlon, Martina Karels and Niamh Moore

Proceedings of the ICOM Costume Committee Annual Meeting in Edinburgh 2023

The ICOM Costume annual conference for 2023 was hosted by National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh, UK, from 25 to 27 September 2023. It was centred around the theme ‘All the Colours of Black’, to coincide with the National Museum’s major summer exhibition, Beyond the Little Black Dress (1 July – 29 October). The meeting had c. 80 in-person attendees representing 23 countries and an overall total of 110 participants representing 27 countries, including those who streamed the conference online.

Three days of paper sessions at NMS were introduced by Dr Christopher Breward, fashion historian and Director of National Museums Scotland. Session themes ranged from explorations of the colour black in a social and spiritual context; the interpretation of black garments in museum collections, exhibitions and displays; the ceremonial purpose of black in weddings and funerals as well as its role in fashioning identities; and techniques of production.

Eighteen of those papers have been published and are available online:

Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction @ NGA

There is a new textile exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction. From the press release:

In recent decades, textiles have assumed an increasingly substantial place in the globalized art world. Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction proposes that abstraction, modernism’s primary visual language, has been entwined with textile’s materials, technologies, and issues since its inception. Highlighting the transformative roles played by women and other marginalized creators, this exhibition explores the shifting relationship between abstract art, fashion, design, and craft over the past 100 years. Comprising some 160 works in diverse mediums, Woven Histories is on view from March 17 through July 28, 2024, in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition will tour to Ottawa and New York after leaving Washington: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, November 8, 2024–March 2, 2025, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, April 20–September 13, 2025.

Andrea Zittel ‘White Felted Dress #3’ from A-Z Fiber Form Uniforms, 2002.
Hand-felted wool ; overall: 144.8 x 50.8 cm (57 x 20 in.). Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
© Andrea Zittel Photo Credit: © Museum Associates/LACMA
Header image: Harmony Hammond Pink Weave, 1974. Oil and Dorland's wax on canvas ;overall: 62.2 x 62.2 cm (24 1/2 x 24 1/2 in.).Private Collection, New York. Courtesy Needleman Fine Art Services, LLC © 2023 Harmony Hammond / Licensed by VAGA at Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo Credit: Courtesy the artist and Alexander Gray Associates, New York.

Anni Albers: In Thread and On Paper @ Blanton Museum of Art, Austin

The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, presents Anni Albers: In Thread and On Paper. From the exhibition’s website:

Anni Albers: In Thread and On Paper highlights how nimbly Albers moved between mediums—including her shift from weaving to printmaking in the 1960s—and transitioned between making art and designing functional and commercial objects. Drawn from the collection of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the exhibition focuses on groundbreaking work from the last 40 years of her life. In addition to Albers’s woven rugs, tapestries, drawings, and prints, the exhibition features her loom and wallpaper based on her designs. 

The exhibition is scheduled to run until 30 June, 2024.

Header image: Anni Albers, Triangulated Intaglio IV, 1976, single-color copper plate etching on paper, 13 x 11 7/8 in., The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 1994.11.39.AP2 (photo: © 2023 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)