museums

Dusters and Dirt

As someone born in Dearborn, Michigan, home of the Ford Motor Company, I grew up keenly aware of businessman Henry Ford’s culturally transformative impact.  As a child I learned that in 1908, Ford introduced the relatively affordable Model T car to consumers.  Automobile ownership became achievable significantly altering American culture beyond expectations about how to get from point A to point B.  Among Ford’s influence was his streamlining of the mass production process.  Assembly line workers became specialized in specific tasks expediting production.  In the first half of the 20th

Teaching from the Collections: Part 3, Claire McCardell

A month ago, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson wrote an excellent article for The Washington Post, “A Dress for Everyone” (December 12, 2018), which was forwarded to me by multiple friends and colleagues.  Outside of fashion circles, Claire McCardell (1905-1958), is an unsung hero of 20th century American sportswear design.  Evitts Dickson’s article did the designer justi

Teaching from the Collections: Part 2

Failing is what I enjoy most about the creative process.  Let me clarify lest I sound like a masochist.  Floundering and feeling frustrated are not especially pleasant but leaping without expecting a net can lead to exhilarating and informative results.

Teaching from the Collections: Part 1

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Bonnie Cashin in her studio (undated)

 

Curating the Joan Crawford Effect: Part 2

Recently, the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library had its fall exhibition The Joan Crawford Effect (October 6 – December 17, 2017).  A lot of people—students, colleagues, journalists—have asked me about my curatorial process.  In this series, I answer some of the most frequent questions I have been asked about the exhibition.

Part 2

What did you learn about Joan Crawford that you didn’t know before you curated this exhibition?

Curating The Joan Crawford Effect: Part 1

Recently, the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library opened its fall exhibition The Joan Crawford Effect (October 6 – December 17, 2017).  A lot of people—students, colleagues, journalists—have asked me about my curatorial process.  In this series, I answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

 

 

Collecting Indigenous Mesoamerican Dress

So this is winter in Southern California.  Do I still get to use seasonal hibernation as my excuse for a lengthy writing hiatus?

The truth is, as the first Anawalt Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for the Study of Regional Dress, I’ve been deep in the archives and object collections at UCLA’s Fowler Museum preparing for two projects.  The first is a course I’ll be teaching this spring in UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures Department, “Collecting Indigenous Mesoamerican Dress.”  The second related project is an exhibition addressing the same theme set to open at the Fowler in 2017. 

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.

Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Neoliberalism

Hello Kitty coin purse
The first Hello Kitty merchandise released in 1974.

City of Angels and Artifacts: Part 2

Hollywood costumes have long been a piece of a larger commercial enterprise. Whether well or poorly constructed, whether expensive or cheap, whether iconic or forgettable, film costumes are production assets.  From a commercial point of view, a costume that can deliver many times over is a worthwhile investment.  Hence, costumes are used, re-used, and reconfigured for maximum value.

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