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Questioning out Loud

June 13, 2017

DMD

What is feminism and who makes the decision? I’m confused. Honestly. Are you a feminist because you say you are? IF, in fact you are because you say you are then, who am I to say you’re not? In recent pop culture Amber Rose posted a pic of “whohah”, or as my great grandmother used to say, “her pocket book”, but for civilized discussion, we’ll say vagina. I clearly understand that the feminist movement emerged as a way of creating a dialogue of inclusion. The pinup girl flaunted feminine sexuality, but is the image and persona of Amber Rose hyper sexual? Does capitalizing by exploiting one’s talent or physical beauty marginalize the entire feminist movement? Or is it empowering to be in control?

 

The female body is beauty and art in and of itself. What troubles me is NOT the fact that she is half nude, it’s the fact that what she purports her image to be is unrealistic and can create unrealistic standards of beauty for young girls and women struggling with body image.

Although I admire her confidence and ability to be unapologetically Amber Rose, does she have a responsibility to use her platform in a different manner. The Slut Movement is a way of her reclaiming and re-appropriating negative and shame language. Or is it? Is this attention seeking behavior to the zenith power?

History repeats itself and continues to push the envelope forward. After all, she’s not the first celebrity to pose nude.

 

Sex sells. Drama is shocking and the ratings and approval or disapproval skyrockets. But guess what? We’re all talking about it. Whether we approve or not, it has created an opportunity for a conversation to have space. To expose thoughts, question norms and engage to understand, or not.  Just my glamourtunity for thought, or not.

Fashion, Glamourtunist, On the Carpet, WERK!

Black Women STAY Saving the Met Gala Red Carpet

May 2, 2017

by Eric Darnell Pritchard

To remix the first line of Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison’s novel “Paradise,” they SLAYED the white girls first, with the others they took their time.

When people say “it’s no shade,” they usually mean it’s shade, but what follows is not shade it’s just a fact. Black women stay saving the Met Gala red carpet. And before you come for me please know, to quote another verbal genius Ms. Nene Leakes, “I said what I said.”

Come on ya’ll, if Rihanna, Solange, and Beyonce all collectively decide not to attend there is probably not a reason to hold this thing.

Everyone should phone it in, ring up Mother Anna Wintour of the House of Vogue, and call in sick that day. This red carpet is the Oscars of fashion, it should not be anything like any other red carpet, and yet the only people who dress to make it feel that way are pretty much Black women. And this year, with Tracee Ellis Ross, Helen Lasichanh, and Zendaya all deciding they to have come to collect our edges, it is ever more undeniable and this year, just like every year, there are receipts.

For those who do not know, every year since 1971 the Met Gala is always built around a theme. It is usual that the theme intersects with the theme of an exhibit that has been curated for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute. Themes in recent years include 2013’s “Punk: Chaos to Couture,” 2014’s “Charles James: Beyond Fashion,” 2015’s “China: Through the Looking Glass,” and 2016’s “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.”

The theme of this year’s gala was “Rei Kawakubo/Commes des Garçons,” a retrospective of the work of the legendary fashion designer and her fashion label which has been at the forefront of fashion for 44 years. Kawakubo, who the New York Times calls the “oracle of fashion,” has always sat atop her perch pushing fashion beyond the boundaries of how they think about the shape, texture, color of a garment, but also beyond the limits of the industry and its preconceived notions of the body itself.

With such an imaginative, courageous, and exciting sartorial visionary as the theme everybody was ready for this Met Gala to take us to and over the edge, just like Kawakubo. WEEEEELL, I am not sure where everybody else’s memo about the theme of the show went, but apparently only Black women got it. 

As I watched the red carpet unfold, one person after the next took to the carpet in pretty gowns, wonderful make-up, hair done for the Gods (or in the case of Jaden Smith, hair cut off and fashioned into a bouquet of locs), and I was completely and utterly surprised and also bored, bored, bored. Only a sprinkling of people seemed to dress with Kawakubo and Commes des Garçons in mind.

There were only a sprinkling of folks who rose to the occasion, which is great, but they are the same people that ALWAYS rise to the occasion.  Rihanna, who is basically a couture wonder woman at the Met Gala EVERY. DAMN. YEAR.

Rihanna at the Met Gala 2015-2011 (left of screen to right)

Riri read her mail and was like, I don’t know what the rest of these people are wearing to the Commes des Garçons-themed Met Gala, but I think I’ll wear…wait for it…Commes des Garçons!

No, I am not saying all you have to do is wear the designer that best fits the theme in order to slay. That could go basic and wrong too. There are tons of examples of that in previous years actually. But, it would be a great start, especially with an aesthetic so well defined, known, and celebrated throughout the industry for over four decades.

I don’t know who these stylists who sent people to the Met Gala in junior prom dresses are. Whoever told them that if their client wore the same basic thing one could (and they do!) wear to the twenty thousand awards shows before and after the Met Gala that they would win them the “Gag Award” LIED, lied big time. Why they put their clients in looks that are violently opposed to Kawakubo’s own aesthetic or the idea of avant grade is a mystery only Jessica Fletcher can solve, but either way they are definitely doing their clients a disservice.

But maybe that’s the point. Maybe they take a medicalized “first do no harm” approach to fashion, and are more content to be on the safe list and not the standout list, but in the economy of celebrity isn’t standing out actually the point? You can’t stand out with no risk. As my grandmama taught me, you gotta bring some to get some.

Next to Rihanna was also Tracee Ellis Ross, who must have heard that Zendaya was gonna come dressed like her mama circa the 1970s (and that’s no shade, Zendaya looked amazing and was, aesthetically, still in the wheelhouse of Comme des Garçon serving us volume, volume, volume head to toe in Dolce and Gabbana!) …

Zendaya

 

… and so Tracee decided she, like Rihanna would work with the fashion challenge for the evening and wear Commes des Garçons too. And thank God she did!

Tracee Ellis Ross

And there were others. Helen Lasicanh, the partner of Pharrell Williams clearly read her mail:

Solange, another person we can count on every single year. I present the receipts:

2016

2015

And this year she continued to bring it, gave us something to talk about, and was gorgeous as always.

Solange wearing Thom Browne at the Met Gala, 2017

 

Do note that this is NOT Kawakubo/Commes des Garçons. This look Solange is wearing is by the always exciting Thom Browne. When I saw it I thought for sure it was Rei Kawakubo’s work, and I was wrong. But the fact that I even thought it was Kawakubo is a good look on Browne and Solange, they get it. This look is totally in the Browne wheelhouse and plays with some of the house codes of Kawakubo’s aesthetic. Thom Browne, someone who like Kawakubo pushes the envelope in menswear and womenswear season after season, gets why you can’t be basic on tonight and gave us something memorable. Sure, Buzz feed joked that Solange’s look was reminiscent of a sleeping bag for a camping trip, BUT they also said she still looked better than everybody else throwing her shade for her REI fashionS. She wins. I rest my case.

To be fair, there were some Black women who came on this beautiful but predictable red carpet too. Kerry Washington, Naomi Campbell, Halle Berry. All wore fabulous gowns and on any other night would be on a best dressed list for me, but on THIS NIGHT they faded into the background. They know better and needed to do better. Also, let me acknowledge that not all white women came to be safe and sad, but I just think Beyonce called them and was like “hey Katy Perry, hey Julianne Moore: I’m not going to make it this year, I am too busy posing in a couture toilet paper hat and bikini for my baby shower pictures. Can ya’ll come to slay and help my sister and Rihanna out?” And they was like, “yeah, we got you.” So we gonna log that too under Black women saving things, even if this conversation only occurred in my head (paints nails). Shout out to Katy Perry and Julianne Moore who came with it too. I was intrigued for sure, I mean it.  And Pryiyanka Chopra, I see you in that Ralph Lauren trench coat dress. You too came to slay!

Anyway, Beyonce, we’ll be waiting for your return. We would have loved to see what you would have done with the theme, and we missed all of this last night:

 

Here’s hoping at Met Gala 2018 you, Rihanna, Solange, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Helen Lasicanh will have even more company.

Fashion, Glamourtunist, Pop Culture

Promenade: Prance, Pose and Preen!

April 17, 2017

       

By Dominique M. Davis

Prom season has arrived, but unfortunately not everyone may be able enjoy the occasion. The debutante ball and cotillion once reserved for social elite, aristocracy so to speak, has evolved… or has it? The (Prom)enade is one of the most exciting events of senior year; custom designed ball gowns and suiting has become the new trend for celebrating this occasion. Lets give a little historical context. In the early 1900s High Society was ruled by the Season (autumn, winter, spring and summer), and early summer was the presentation of debutantes. Probably why prom season remains to be a spring/early summer occasion. Although there seems to be a decline in the formality of social events such as cotillions, prom still maybe one of the very first occasions in a young woman’s (or young man’s) life to be among the haut monde in custom designed apparel and present as coming of age. But are we starting to see history repeat itself as the reintroduction of class inequalities threatens to prevent our youth from enjoying this celebratory event? In addition to class, prom has taken on social justice reform by pushing strict social regulations of defining traditional gender roles and norms for youth able to participate in the event. The LGBTQ community continues to advance and assert their right(s) to engage and have equal participation.

So how do we continue to make sure that we give those interested in participating the option? One project that works to ensure this occasion can be a reality for young girls is the Glass Slipper Project. Their mission is to provide junior and senior girls the experience of receiving FREE prom dresses and personal styling. Quick shoutout to my colleague Cheryl for inviting me to participate last year!

Now, let’s see what’s trending for spring. Bringing the red carpet to your home; styles inspired by celebrity couture.

Floral Inspiration: The combination of floral and lace is always a stunning combination.

Taraji graced us with her Reem  Acra gown for the 2017 SAG Awards.

 

Shane Straughter @Daretobevintage gives us regal elegance for Prom

 

Lovely Lace:

Lace- a sultry and sophisticated statement.

Lily Collins wore Zuhair Murad for the 2017 Golden Globe awards. Pretty in pink.

Looks for less:

Satin and Floral Lace can be found at luulla.com

Velvet:

Golden Globes Red Carpet: Blake Lively wore a custom-made Atelier Versace velvet gown, encrusted with Swarovski crystals.

Looks for less: Ruffles are a new season trend and add a level of flare to the strapless sweetheart bodice.

Sculpted sweetheart velvet gown can be found at aliexpress.com

Vertical Stripes:

Michelle Williams @ the 2017 SAG Awards in Louis Vuitton

Look for Less:

ELIZA J Metallic Stripe Ball Skirt found @Nordtrom.com

LA FEMME Embellished Jersey Gown found @Nordstrom.com

 

For more information about the Glass Slipper project, please visit their website at glassslipperproject.org

Boutique Dates are April 22nd and 29th located at Price Elementary School, 4351 S. Drexel, Chicago, Il.

 

Also check out Maryam Garba International for custom prom dresses. You can find her on instagram @maryamgarbaintl.

News

On Women’s Marches and Fashion – This is What Democracy Looks Like (Fashion Conscious: A Column)

March 9, 2017

by Dominique Michelle Davis

The recent Woman’s march and the ability of women to organize in a effort to protest misogyny and oppression inspired and saddened my heart to know that in 2016 as far as we’ve come we still haven’t overcame. What was inspiring was the fact that women were united and also embraced the support of males in acknowledging what has been a systemic issue in the United States and especially in the politically arena. The march was and is what democracy should reflect. Women, men, children, LGBTQ people, people of color, young and old all chanting in chorus for basic human rights and speaking truth to power.

How does this relate to fashion, pop culture and beauty? Because the beauty of life is that it comes in all forms, shapes, sizes, cultures and experiences. How we fashion our lives to cope with the struggle and challenges of reality may be only the most outer layer of us expressing ourselves, but who would want to be vulnerable and share more when the mere appearance presents a challenge and barrier toward forming a deeper connection? These are just my thoughts about the power of visual appearance and the symbolism it may represent for individual expression.

During the march a young lady was dressed in what upon first gaze was a bit odd and eccentric. Then it dawned on me, she was dressed as a Suffragist.I remember learning about this in history class, and I can acknowledge and site the names of leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and the Women’s Temperance movement with vague recollection, so I was moved to do some fact checking to jog my memory. The task of researching this bit of history also made me realize how easy it is to forget the suffering and struggle of the past when in present day it appears that equal rights is within reach. One of my favorite signs during the march stated “I still can’t believe that we still have to march for this.” That was my exact sentiment and it felt reassuring to be among a crowd who was just as dismayed and angry with the system who would vote for a reality star with no proven track record of what it takes to move a country toward a future that is accepting and embracing all life and experiences; or for that matter, how to build relationships with other countries to foster global and non-exploitative economic prosperity.

Women’s “dress codes” has evolved since the Temperance Movement. In fact, women’s dress in the 21st century is, as it was during the dress reform movements of the 19th century, a progressive movement in and of itself. Women’s garments were very restrictive in function and style and today, in America, we have the option to choose. Hopefully that will remain unchanged under this new administration. Laughing, but very serious.

Beauty, Fashion, On the Carpet, Pop Culture, WERK!

Dominique’s Oscars 2017 Recap

February 27, 2017

by Dominique Michelle Davis

Jimmy Kimmel’s witty and clever one-liners infusing political commentary with Hollywood elite was right on time and made this Oscars much more fun and funny to watch than in recent years. Though many were understandably not happy with his handling of the cast and crew of “Moonlight ” almost leaving the evening without the award that was rightfully theirs, Kimmel did shine with comic moments like his tweeting President Trump live and referencing the “overrated” Meryl Streep tweet from the petty President. One of my favorite moments of laughter.

The other highlight of the evening was Moonlight receiving awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture. The 2017 Oscar Awards brought a refreshing and much needed perspective in presenting inclusivity. I was in awe and admiration of Mr. Farhadi’s refusal to attend the awards because of the ridiculous and outrageous ban that President Trump has enacted against immigrants – documented and undocumented. It was inspiring to see Hollywood Celebs using this platform as a means to promote human rights and speak in opposition of laws that go against the very nature of the founding principals of the United States of America.

On the fashion front, here are my Best Dressed Looks for Oscar Night 2017:

Tony, Emmy, and now Oscar winner Viola Davis wearing Armani Privé.

 

Janelle Monae wearing Elie Saab Couture.

 

Last year’s Best Actress winner Brie Larson, wearing an Oscar de la Renta gown.

 

Nominee for Best Actress, Ruth Negga of the film “Loving,” in a glorious custom Valentino in the signature “valentino red.”

 

We always love Chrissy Teigen, and we also always love her in Zuhair Murad. A perfect match.

 

The “around the way girl” herself, Taraji P. Hensen, stealing the show as always in a sexy, sophisticated, Alberta Ferretti gown.

Interview, Pop Culture

Cultural Enthusiast, Visual Artist: An Interview with Yo Yo Lander

January 25, 2017

by Dominique Michelle Davis

(above image : “Uncomfortable” by Yo Yo Lander; all images: Yo Yo Lander)

I had the honor to interview Yo Yo Lander, visual artist and self proclaimed Cultural Enthusiast. It was a pleasure to speak with someone who is inspired from life to have created a platform of self-expression and artistic direction to create dialogue. Her medium of canvas and paint – which she employs to promote and highlight dissension with societal norms to help bridge the gap of culture – is an interesting play of art imitating life.

Dominique: How did you first discover art and how did you choose your medium?

Yo Yo: I was introduced to art from my Uncle Boykin who traveled to Africa and would send us postcards from Africa that pictured indigenous people. I would stare at the jewelry and that’s where I developed my appreciation of color. It was very different from the very bland color of Sumter, South Carolina of blacks, green and orange. I began traveling to Africa with my uncle in summers who led a group to Ghana and Ethiopia for the African Diaspora Heritage for 21 days. My uncle is a professor at Virginia Union University.

I’ve always been interested in indigenous people of Africa, Indian (Native American, and Mexican cultures). I was always excited for international food day to explore the cultures of others.

Another uncle (Uncle Curtis) was also an artist. His medium is wood. I would go visit his shed where he kept all of his work, but he never shared it with anyone. He has a great gift but he keeps it all to himself.

I was drawn to canvas for creative expression. I was not good at blending which allowed me to create my own lane and I began to highlight my “weakness” to turn it to strength, which is where I get my block coloring.

Dominique: What was your path toward becoming a visual artist?

Yo Yo: I found it difficult to verbally articulate and use art as a way of expression. I went to Howard for undergrad, but I’ve always been an eclectic person an explorer who wanted to see and experience life. I kind of just always did my own thing. I don’t want to be defined by social norms or job labels… which is how I coined my term cultural enthusiast. I’m a cultural enthusiast, a person who is able to monetize off artistic expression and who is invested into culture.

“Market Lady” by Yo Yo Lander

Dominique: Is there a therapeutic component to your artwork? Healing through art and how so? How does your artistic expression become a reflection of self?

Yo Yo: Yes. What you paint is a reflection of what I feel inside. It’s a relationship. One of my pieces was about relationships and as I was painting it helped me to reflect and understand on a deeper level the relationship I had with my sister. One of the first relationships we ever have in life. It helped me to create my work on sisterhood.

It usually takes me about 1 year to complete a group of work. I never touch my art when I’m not in the mood and I tend to find my answers in the silence. Whatever I’m seeking I always find it out. One of the most therapeutic components to painting is you get obsessed with painting. You get lost and you just want to be alone with your thoughts and lock yourself away. There are three steps to painting (1) the idea, (2) draw, (3) paint.

Dominique: How do you use your platform to inspire, create conversation and work for social justice?

Yo Yo: There’s a message in everything. Figuring out how to tie art to a story to create dialogue; a conversation piece; sometimes I don’t choose my subjects my subject chooses me.

My first commissioned piece was a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. with commissioned pieces it usually takes a month, but my spirit must align with the work.

My current catalog is heavily influenced by Ghana (last summer 2016). I’m working on a group work for the African American Museum of Art. This will be featured from October to December 2017. It is a collection of 20 pieces and I’m waiting on the spirit to guide my direction. I’m thinking of “the problem with going nowhere.” The problem with going nowhere – like Good Times; the circle of the cycle, it started to sit with me. Be patient. Every breaststroke has a meaning. To rush is a waste of time and material. [Art] is time, patience and love.

“Black American Girl” by Yo Yo Lander

Dominique: What is your advice to youth and aspiring artist?

Yo Yo: Don’t be obsessed with grades in school. Be obsessed with relationships and experiences and encourage kids to play. People forget who we are, we lose the essence of self we lose our light. In Caribbean culture youth play, let’s change the culture of how we teach our children to encourage them to explore everything and see what you like.

I never thought I would make a career from painting, but we also need to make sure we get the parents involved.

Artist Statement:

YoYo Lander is an autodidactic painter living and working in Los Angeles, CA. For YoYo creating art is therapeutic. Yoyo’s visions emanate from all that surrounds her while abroad. YoYo’s work explores unconventional color palettes, bold color contrasts, and womanhood. Her subjects are comprised of an arrangement of brown color harmonies, placed on backgrounds of both subtle and loud color blocks. Yoyo creates her interpretations using personal photographs and stories from indigenous women as her inspiration. The figurative artwork enjoins a conversation between itself and it’s audience regarding joy, identity, sisterhood and community.

Fashion, History, News, Pop Culture

Denim, Dissonance, and Social Change (Review of FIT’s “Denim” Exhibit)

April 15, 2016

by Eric Darnell Pritchard

Recently I visited the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (“FIT) and took in three of their most recent marvelous exhibits on fashion. All three were spectacular, but the one most exciting for me was “Denim: Fashion’s Frontier.” Just the week after I saw this exhibit I was scheduled to do a series of lectures on fashion and style and activism in a course I teach called “Black Freedom Movement Rhetorics.” One of the lecture was going to focus on denim in order to provide some foundations for an article I’d assigned to my students (more on that later).

The FIT exhibit did not disappoint by any means, and provided lots of great historical context and details about fashion design, marketing, and cultural meanings of denim. All of this proved to be very useful to my lecture and my student’s discussion of the  lecture and readings. What follows are photos and my commentary on the exhibit mixed with notes and additional photographs from my course lecture. It was truly a great exhibit that I highly recommend; one that helped me to seamlessly integrate fashion and style into a history of dress as rhetorical activism as enacted by various social movements, and especially within the Black Freedom Movement.

Among the first looks you see entering the exhibit is of men’s blue brushed cotton denim trousers from about 1840, and a woman’s blue denim jacket from about 1850 which would have been worn for work:

Photo Mar 24, 5 08 45 PM

What this was  helpful in illustrating in my lecture was the ways in which denim was/is often described as a textile gendered masculine, when in reality it was featured in women’s clothing in the 19th century just as it was with men’s clothing. Also, that the denim look here was specifically used as a jacket worn for work also points to the evidence of women working in the 19th century, and in the case of this outfit work that was performed outdoors. This too corrects another point of historical information which are histories that do not acknowledge that women did work at this time, inside and outside of the home. And, as the exhibit pointed out, the women’s look is in an hourglass shape which was in fashion at the time, and so the denim look was functional but also on trend even then. Thus denim was, even in the 19th century, being employed as a textile that was stylish.

Photo Mar 24, 5 09 20 PM

The focus on function and fashion is also evident in the look above, which was a women’s “walking suit” made in striped off white denim from about 1916. It too followed many of the trends of the day, including the skirt length and high-waist on the jacket.This is not the depiction of denim we see in everyday parlance for many decades now.

The idea of denim in people’s minds are those produced by Levi Strauss & Co. (Levi’s) – patented in 1873. This is style that has held reign on the market ever since including many years of cultural references as a symbol of Americana, leisure, and “wild, wild West” Cowboy-masculinities:

vintage-denim-cowboy-coffee-jeep2

Denim was also associated with clothing housewives for convenience of daily work, such as the iconic 1942 “Popover” dress from designer Claire McCardell:

fit-denim-frontier02

And, as all fashion is political, denim’s politicized story is in histories that show it as being worn by off-duty officers in WWII and the symbolic “Rosie the Riveter” which became symbolic for American women’s empowerment in the war years, ymbolic of work, independence, grit, and feminist sensibilities intersecting labor and dress:

rosie-riveter-1

A cultural symbol, however complex, that has lasted. Just ask Beyonce:

bey-rosie

It are these critical moments in our a world visual archive that has helped denim to endure with positive connotations, as has advertising that are now seared in our minds like this ad from the late 1960s:

Levi's Jeans advertisement from late 1960s

Denim became more controversial when, in the 1950s, it was considered disrespectable largely through its association with the teenage spirit of rebellion such as in films like James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause.”

James-Dean-Style-Rebel-Without-a-Cause

Since this period denim “has been dominated by countercultural and street-style associations.” For example, the 1960s hippies

halloween-hippies

or the genius and always chic Jimmie Hendrix himself:

Photos of Life at Woodstock 1969 (1)

 

In the 1970s, Denim goes high fashion, appearing on runways of top designers like Yves Saint Laurent and others who “treated it as a luxury fabric.” And by the 1980s: variations on denim “finishing” techniques like acid-washing (which is back on trend), fading (which never seemed to go away, actually). Also return to roots of how denim was employed as Americana symbol, such as Ralph Lauren’s 1981 “Prairie” collection. Brooke Shields’ Calvin Klein adds were the most visible of the time.

Brief-History-of-Jeans-MainPhoto

And by late 1990s it is a luxury item, that we now see being capitalized on everywhere by so-called “premium denim” lines like 7 for All Mankind, Lucky Brand, and fast fashion companies like H&M.

In my course, my students read an article by Dr. Tanisha Ford, a historian and assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The article titled “SNCC Women, Denim, and the Politics of Dress,” is a portion of Dr. Ford’s recent book Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul.

We focused on this history about the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) women and denim as one moment in the history of the Black Freedom Movement wherein Black women civil rights activists wore denim and engaged in other choices around their fashion and beauty that challenged expectations of respectability and propriety circulating within Black communities, including among other activists, at that time. Part of what this enabled them to do is to employ fashion as a tactic of building community with the working class Black people they were organizing in the South. Another was that it demonstrated the intersections of fashion and power as the women acted as agents of adornment toward the ends of social change in their times.

Two of the SNCC women the article discusses were sisters Dorie and Joyce Ladner, pictured here wearing their denim at the March on Washington in 1963:

Sisters Dorie and Joyce Ladner at the March on Washington

The choice to wear denim overalls, Ford shows, was an important aesthetic departure from the “Sunday’s Best” style encouraged by many Black civil rights leaders who were mindful of how Black people and their allies would be (mis)represented in their struggle for civil rights, and denim overalls was not among the sartorial acts that would be seen as acting respectably. Thus, the Ladner sister’s wearing denim to the March on Washington was a radical choice in the midst of an already massive moment for social change.

The prevalence of denim is evident in this iconic photo of writer James Baldwin, Joan Baez, and activist James Forman wearing denim at the voting rights March in Selma in 1965:

James Forman marching with writer James Baldwin and Folk singer Joan Baez

And the ways denim narrativizes some of the oppositional arrangement of fashion choices in the civil rights movements was mirrored back in the recent Ava DuVernay film, Selma as seen in the photo of Tessa Thompson and Common in the film here:

Selma-movie-Common-e1420694877667

Overall, Denim: Fashion’s Frontier, historical studies like Ford’s and other works on the history of the textile  correct the historical record that centered radicalized and gendered interpretations that obscure “the variety and breadth of denim’s history” (FIT Museum).  Such interventions demonstrate,  as anthropologists Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward argue in their study about the role of jeans in everyday use quoted in the FIT exhibit description, “Jeans seem to have taken on the role of expressing something about changing the world that no other clothing could achieve.”

I highly recommend checking out the FIT exhibit. Below are additional photos from the FIT exhibit of some of my favorites on display:

Photo Mar 24, 5 10 20 PM

Denim looks from Sacai, Chloe, and Dries van Noten.

 

Photo Mar 24, 5 10 54 PM

An elegant denim dress by Edun.

 

Photo Mar 24, 5 17 38 PM

A Fendi denim “Spy Bag.”

 

Photo Mar 24, 5 18 13 PM

Jean Paul Gaultier, of course.

 

Photo Mar 24, 5 18 54 PM

Sara Shelburne multi-colored striped denim and silk, 1970 in France.

 

Photo Mar 24, 5 20 48 PM

A high fashion trio of denim: looks from Donna Karan, Vivienne Westwood, and Moschino Jeans.

 

Photo Mar 24, 5 21 21 PM

Two piece denim look by Kenzo.

Fashion, Film, On the Carpet, WERK!

Oscar ’16 Glamourtunists of the Night

February 29, 2016

In general we found this year’s Academy Awards red carpet to be quite uninspiring. No one really blew us totally away, and in general many of the people you look forward to seeing on the red carpet weren’t even at the show this year. Also, the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations itself were repeated on the red carpet, as reflected in the fact that there were almost no people of color on the red carpet this year, and certainly none of our fashion faves. No Lupita. No Viola. No Salma Hayek. No J. Lo. It was very sad. We did manage to find some favorite looks from the men and women on the red carpet, and present you our Glamourtunists of the night:

Glamourtunists of the Night – Men

MichaelStrahan-Oscars16

The always handsome Michael Strahan stunned in a tourqoise tuxedo. He wore a similar such tuxedo in bourdeaux at the 2014 Oscars.

eddieredmayne-Oscars16

Eddie Redmayne went for a classic black tuxedo, this one from Alexander McQueen. The texture of the jacket juxtaposed to the lapel and pants looked great, as did the tailoring.

Glamourtunists of the Night – Women

Olivia Munn - Oscars 16

Olivia Munn’s coral stella McCartney gown had us at hello!

soarise ronan - Oscars16

Saorise Ronan’s custom emerald Calvin Klein was a serious show stopper. The color of the garment matched her hair color perfectly, and the plunging neckline and shimmer was definite sexy, hollywood glamour.

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This pleated, ivory dream gown by Valentino made Olivia Wilde a bell of the ball. The high-wasit line and peek-a-boo sides and cleavage baring top of the gown blended sexy and sophistication perfectly. The clutch was a bit too clunky for our taste, but everything else was perfect. Wilde’s hairstyle was also one of our favorite beauty looks of the night.

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Chile’ we are NEVER surprised when mother Charlize Theron comes to shut down the entire red carpet situation, and yet we are always left with our mouth hanging open by how glorious she looks. Her look last night had the same effect. Flawless! Our favorite thing about this look was the beautiful diamond necklace she wore that create the illusion of a cutout panel given where it draped between her skin and the gown.

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And last but not least, Brie Larson, the evening’s Best Actress winner in this cerulean, ruffle Gucci gown. The opulence of her very ornate belt is what elevated this look to such a big night without overwhelming the look itself. Well done, and congratulations Brie.