Dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of fashion from an academic perspective, the quarterly journal Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture views fashion as a cultural phenomenon, off ering the reader a wide range of articles by leading Western and Russian specialists, as well as classical texts on fashion theory. From the history of dress and design to body practices; from the work of well-known designers to issues around consumption in fashion; from beauty and the fashionable fi gure through the ages to fashion journalism, fashion and PR, fashion and city life, art and fashion, fashion and photography — Fashion Theory covers it all.
In this issue’s Dress section, we return to the topic of fashion and the city. The section opens with Sophie Kurkdjian’s Paris as the Capital of Fashion, 1858–1939: An Inquiry. This article argues that Paris became the capital of fashion for several reasons: (a) its cultural and social secular background that evolved between the Age of Colbert and Dior’s ‘New Look’; (b) the implementation of complementary business and labour structures between the end of the nineteenth century and the middle of the twentieth century; and (c) its involvement in early global exchanges of techniques, styles, media, ideas, and people. Parisian status in the fashion industry was facilitated by the crucial contribution of foreign seamstresses and designers, and the transfer and hybridization of styles, consumption habits, and industrial techniques the city collected, transformed into fashions, and sent back to the world. In other words, Paris was a hub of the international circulation of intelligence, commerce and immigration. ‘Paris, Capital of Fashion,’ therefore, is not uniquely a part of French, or even European, history, it is a global history. Thus, the article wishes to contribute to a new history of fashion.
Elisabetta Merlo and Mario Perugini offer The Determinants of the Emergence of Turin as the First Capital of the Italian Fashion Industry (1900–1960). The article aims at exploring how Turin emerged as the first capital of the Italian fashion industry in the interwar period. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Turin had already a well-established history in the industrial production of clothing. In 1902 and 1911, the city hosted national and international exhibitions that included entire pavilions devoted to illustrating the relationships between fashion and industry. The article focuses on the determinants of the emergence of Turin as a fashion capital during the interwar period: the establishment of a new technological basis, with the development of the man-made fi bre industry in Italy; the birth of new institutions and organisations, such as the Ente Nazionale della Moda and the first truly Italian fashion shows; the emergence of a new market for ready-to-wear clothing and the building of an industrial identity thanks to the first large industrial companies in Italy. During the 1950s and 1960s, while Florence and Rome fl ourished into the international high fashion scene, Turin was still the main fashion centre and hosted SAMIA, the most important trade show in Italy for textile and ready-to-wear clothing. It was only during the 1970s that Turin started to decline in parallel with the emergence of Milan as Italy’s new fashion capital.
Bethan Bide contributes London Leads the World: The Reinvention of London Fashion in the Aftermath of the Second World War. In the face of widespread damage and disruptive government regulation, London fashion was presented with an opportunity to redefine and reinvent itself in the aftermath of the Second World War. This paper explores how the impacts of the conflict fused with broader changes in manufacturing and promotion to force structural changes in London’s fashion industry in the late 1940s. These changes resulted in the city developing a reputation as a centre of design rather than production. Indications of this shift from production to design can be seen particularly clearly in the rising cultural capital of the London ‘brand’ in mid-market ready-to-wear fashions for women. By focusing on this sector of the industry, this paper adds a new perspective to previous studies of postwar fashion by looking beyond the activities of a narrow band of high-end fashion houses. From the geographies of manufacturing to the symbolic use of London postcodes on garment labels, it compiles a comprehensive impression of the signifi cant role played by London’s mid-market fashion manufacturers in managing the fashionable reputation of the city at a time when its industry faced catastrophic decline, and refl ects on how this shaped London’s development as a fashion city in subsequent decades.
David Gilbert and Patrizia Casadei present The Hunting of the Fashion City: Rethinking the Relationship Between Fashion and the Urban in the Twenty-First Century. This paper argues that a focus on the idea of the ‘fashion city’ can prove counter-productive in thinking about the relationship between fashion and urbanism. The authors suggest four provocations about the ‘hunt for the fashion city’. Firstly, they argue that the hunt for a singular fashion city is misguided, and seek to move away from a model set by a limited number of established fashion capitals. In particular they propose a ‘field’ of fashion city types, an approach that both acknowledges the diversity of relationships between fashion and cities, and recognizes the diff erent paths that cities have taken. Secondly, they ask for new maps in the hunt for the fashion city, seeing cities as nodes in wider fashion geographies, and arguing for more extensive and complex cartographies of sites and roles of fashion within cities. Thirdly, they argue that the focus on the ‘fashion city’ gives an inappropriate priority to fashion, and ask whether we are better served by thinking about how fashion works in imperial cities, authoritarian cities and neoliberal cities. Finally, they ask whether the ‘fashion city’ and particularly the relationship between great metropolises and fashion authority has a particular periodization, and whether our quest might shift in the twenty first century to think about the wider systemic nature of fashion urbanization.
In this issue’s Body section, we continue our discussion of constructions of masculinity. The section opens with Horace D. Ballard’s ‘Foundations and Beginnings’: W.E.B. Du Bois Posing as a Dandy. This essay brings a critical and contextual focus to W.E.B. Du Bois’ youth by exploring how the young Du Bois used dress and comportment to pass as a dandy in order to negotiate and refuse norms of race and class during the Belle Epoque period. Photographs of a young Du Bois from his family’s photo album are both the archive and the expository engine that drives our inquiry. The author argues that before Du Bois became a ‘race man’, he was acculturated into the intellectual discourses of Aestheticism and assimilated himself to the modes of dress and behaviour befitting German and English traditions of the well-dressed dandy. Du Bois’ idea of double consciousness, Ballard argues, owes much to the way he understands dandyism’s theoretical and cultural machinations of self-respect, self-governance, and intellectual attainment. Ballard draws upon the critical theory of the Bildung to posit that in lieu of a comprehensive autobiography of Du Bois, we must read the poses of the photographic portraits in order to elicit the clearest understanding of how Du Bois’ posing references a conscious passing between burgeoning constructions of private, public, white, black, male, and female space in an eff ort to position his body and his intellectual becoming as a model of attainment for other men of colour at the turn of the century.
Jonathan C. Kaplan contributes The Man in the Suit: Jewish Men and Fashion in Fin-de-Siè cle Vienna. Fin-de-siècle Vienna has long been recognized as one of Europe’s centres of modernist culture, and Jewish men, as central participants in this cultural development. However, its role as a capital of fashion is oft en overshadowed by better known cities such as London. This article explores the influence of English styles on Vienna’s men’s fashion milieu and the central function of clothing within Jewish acculturation. The adoption of modern clothing—in particular the suit—by urban male populations across the continent over the course of the nineteenth century corresponded to the broad period of Jewish emancipation in Western and central Europe. Referring to contemporary fashion guides, hinged on a case study of the dress habits of Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)— arguably one of Vienna’s most renowned thinkers of Jewish origin—this article explores the complex issues surrounding Jewish men and dress in the context of one of Europe’s important capitals of modernist culture.
Yağmur Nuhrat offers Bodies, Football Jerseys, and Multiple Male Aesthetics through Football in Turkey. Football (soccer) jerseys for professional male players are increasingly being designed with a tighter, snugger fit. Such design infers a fit male body and a lifestyle, which accompanies and cultivates such a body. Replica kits, which are manufactured for consumption by fans, often emulate this tight fit, but are purchased and worn by bodies that differ substantially from the increasingly valorized fit athlete’s body. This paper discusses the multiple male aesthetics that are produced in the process and through the practice of differing bodies wearing the same garment. Yağmur Nuhrat specifically juxtaposes the body and the sociality of the disciplined, professional, and fit male footballer to the body of male fans with bellies. The author argues that the reverence of a specific fit male body which results in tightening jerseys and which tighter jerseys celebrate, produces the unintended consequence of highlighting less-than-fit bodies and body parts, as well as the social practices that yield such bodies through fans’ dressing practices. With an ethnographic focus on Turkey, this paper demonstrates how the idealization of a specific male body is subverted, albeit unintentionally, by the very forces that create it in the first place.
This issue’s Culture section takes a look at creativity, handcrafting, and wellness. Betsan Corkhill, Jessica Hemmings, Angela Maddock and Jill Riley present Knitting and Well-being. More encompassing than just the facts and figures of physical health, well-being is often used to acknowledge how we feel. The World Health Organization has defined well-being as ‘an ability to realize personal potential, cope with daily stresses, and contribute productively to society’. This article explores the varied ways knitting can contribute to our well-being. It brings together the authors’ individual presentations from the well-being panel at the 2012 conference ‘In the Loop 3: The Voices of Knitting’, now reconfigured and reordered as a co-authored paper. Opening the paper are facts and figures—the very evidence of what many of us have felt or intuited—established by Betsan Corkhill and Jill Riley in their joint contribution on the therapeutic benefits of knitting. Angela Maddock then follows, not with the stuff of scientific reason, but with its exact opposite: the symbolic contribution which knitting that is disrupted or troubled can signal in a narrative. Jessica Hemmings’s interest in the difficult identity of solitary knitting in literature, and the need to take stock of the current infatuation academic research holds for collaboration, now acts as the fi nal contribution to this dialogue. The outcome is eclectic, the voices varied; but so too are the many ways to consider the contribution knitting can make to our well-being today.
Gail Kenning presents ‘Fiddling with Threads’: Craft-Based Textile Activities and Positive Well-being. Craft-based textile activities such as knitting, crochet, tatting, and lace-making have provided challenges, physical and mental stimulation, creative outlets, and social interaction for generations. The role of craft and the relationship between craft and maker vary across cultures, geographic groups, and gender. However, a common thread is that craft practitioners are often emotionally invested in these activities and many continue to make through all stages of life and into old age. Given the ageing of the global population, activities that can be carried out by people with reduced mobility and increasing physical or mental limitations as a result of ageing, and which can promote healthy ageing and positive well-being, are now becoming increasingly important. Existing research has established a link between creativity and health and well-being. But, it is only recently that multidisciplinary research involving arts and crafts, social science, and medical and health scholars and practitioners has begun to show the importance of activities, such as craft textiles, for positive well-being. The relationship between craft activities, creative engagement, mental and physical stimulation, social interaction, self-esteem, and, therefore, positive well-being has been insufficiently explored. This article reports fi ndings of a study of lace makers at the Lace Study Centre at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia, that examined how craft activities contribute to well-being in a variety of ways. This research, which focused on female practitioners, found that craft -based textile activities and associated social practices provide insights into the individual and societal importance of ‘everyday creativity’ for promoting positive well-being and general good health.
Sandra Alfoldy’s Cyber Comfort: Textiles as Markers of Care in Video Games asserts that video games that utilize textiles create comfort by connecting players to their lived physical selves. They develop positive gaming and craft skills by emphasizing the basic tenets of human cognition and culture as manifested through intentionality, symbolism, and play.
Davina Hawthorne’s Blue Skies Have Never Been So Blue was written in Lincolnshire, England in April 2020. ‘I sit in my garden I look up there is a clean smell in the air and the skies have never been so blue. My house has become a haven to feel safe and a place to create.’ We have more time on our hands and literally want to use them more. We suddenly have an urge to make our food from scratch and we take up knitting. Like never before we learn a new skill and we surprise ourselves! The world has changed dramatically and so have our daily lives.
In Events Olga Gerasimova offers When the Ephemeral Meets the Permanent, a review of ‘Moda y Patrimonio: Contextos’ (‘Fashion and Heritage: Contexts’) at the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum, Getaria, Spain (1 March 2019 — 21 January 2020).
Karen de Perthuis visits ‘Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: A Step Into Paradise’ at the Powerhouse Museum of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, Australia (17 November 2019 — 22 March 2020).
Chamutal Leket offers Lace as an Art in the Time of Machine Production, a review of ‘The Art of Lace | Haute Couture from Chanel to Iris van Herpen’ at the TextielMuseum, Tilburg, Netherlands (16 November 2019 — 6 September 2020).
Maria Demina’s Academic Debate in Times of Pandemic walks us through the online conference “The New Normal”: Sartorial and Body Practices of the Quarantine Era’, 10 June 2020.
In Books Flavia Loscialpo reviews Fashion and Politics / Ed. by Dj. Bartlett. New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 2019.