The Culture Hustler

Musing for modern minds.

Happy Holidays!

Thanks so much for reading throughout the year.

See you in 2016!

Dress and Cultural Appropriation

Earlier this year, French fashion designer Isabel Marant was accused of plagiarism, a frequent occurrence in the fashion industry where designers take their inspiration from museum exhibitions, films, the street, the color of a mud hut, and, in this case, from the indigenous Mixe women of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec in Oaxaca, México.  Yet what makes this story unique is its 21st century flavor.

Appearances Matter Pt. 2: Halloween

Last week I talked about several recent dress-related contentious situations.  From last summer’s Rachel Dolezal moment to this Halloween’s incendiary costume choices on college campuses, there is no end of examples on social media and in the news to show us just how much appearances matter.  While what we wear and how we look matters in all situations where visual communication is part of the equation, the Halloween context is unique from the everyday.  The example of Rachel Dolezal attempting to pass as African American in he

Appearances Matter

On Monday, November 9, 2015, The New York Times ran an op-ed piece by Julia Baird called “Being Dishonest About Ugliness.”  Ms.

Review: To Live and Dine in L.A.

To Live and Dine in L.A. is an exhibition of menus from the Los Angeles Public Library Collection currently on view in the Getty Gallery at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles.  The exhibit’s timing is particularly serendipitous as downtown LA experiences a culinary renaissance.  From the recent re-opening of the legendary Clifton’s Cafeteria to the seemingly weekly emergence of a hip new restaurant, this moment is a sweet spot for exploring the history of Los Angeles’ restaurant culture. 

Cultural Heritage, Art, and the 21st Century Exhibition

LA Times art critic, Christopher Knight, recently descried the increasing nationwide commercialization of museums.  At issue in the examples he cited were real or perceived conflicts of interest.  For example, in February the Princeton University Art Museum hired the curator John Elderfield.  As a Princeton curator, Elderfield continues to be a consultant for the for-profit Gagosian Gallery.  To queries about potential conflicts of interest, in

See you in September!

Currently on hiatus until late September.

Thank you for checking in and please return this fall to read the latest musings on dress culture and museums.

Review of Costume by Pravina Shukla

Costume: Performing Identities through Dress (Indiana University Press, 2015) by Pravina Shukla Associate Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University Bloomington, examines context-specific costume from around the globe.  Regular Culture Hustler readers will recall that Pravina Shukla refers to dress generally as body art.  In Costume she addresses the dress sub-category of costume.  The book is divided into six chapters: “1 - Festive Spirit,” “2

What is Glamour? (part 2 of 2)

In part 1 of “What is Glamour?” I said glamour is characterized by aloofness and distance in performance.  Yet there is more to glamour than being removed from one’s audience.  Generating a measure of mystery and inspiring interest also characterize glamour.  Further, all of this must be balanced with the appropriate appearance.  There is no fixed visual lexicon for what constitutes the right appearance yet one can expect heightened theatricality, originality, attention to details, and polish.

What is Glamour? (part 1 of 2)

I’ve written a great deal about drag queens and used the term “drag” primarily to refer to men who cross dress as women in a highly theatrical fashion.  In the past I have also used “drag” to refer to any sort of identifiable social category achieved through dress and performance.  In short, I use the term loosely and do not object, for example, when Michelle Visage describes herself as a drag queen. 

Yet what of drag kings? 

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