Dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of fashion from an academic perspective, the quarterly journal Fashion Theory: Dress, Body and Culture views fashion as a cultural phenomenon, offering 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 figure 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 devoted to gender.
Barbara Vinken offers Transvesty — Travesty: Fashion and Gender. The author, a professor of French literature and comparative literature studies, frequently works with Berlin's Humboldt University. Vinken regards Fashion as a post-Feudal phenomenon of the second half of the nineteenth century, which saw the disintegration of the existing dress code system that had served clearly to separate the sexes and social groups. Immediately upon emerging, this phenomenon began to wage war on first impressions. This distortion of impression is the very essence of Fashion's unique nature, the author argues. Fashion is a masquerade, a transvestite burlesque, which forces class and sex into such close, intimate relations, that their essence is impossible to glean through any pure, unequivocal categories of representative classification. The author also sheds light on certain obscure stages in the emergence of Fashion.
In her paper Pink is for Boys Jo B. Paoletti takes a close look at pink colour controversy. Pink and blue symbolism is so firmly embedded in American culture that it's hard to believe that their gender associations are new. Babies in the United States once wore white clothing that signified their age but not their sex. Toddler clothing was more colorful, but hues were chosen according to complexion, season or fashion. Beginning in the early twentieth century, American children's fashions became more gender-specific. Pink, once considered one of several interchangeable, pastel "nursery colors" with no gender associations, is a dramatic marker of this change.
The history of pink as a "girl's" color spans nearly a century. The transition from ungendered to gendered clothing for toddlers and children during the first half of the twentieth century recast details once considered "youthful" — including the color pink — as "feminine", though this new rule was adopted slowly and inconsistently. In fact, in many parts of the United States, the rule was "pink for boys, blue for girls". From the late 1960s through the early 1980s, pastel clothing in general and pink in particular fell into disfavor, partly because of child development studies and partly as a result of the women's liberation movement. Since the mid-1980s, pink has become not only a strongly feminine color, but has reached the level of obsession in the 3-7 age group.
Alla Myzelev in her paper Here Comes the Knitting Men: Knitting and Masculinity in the early twenty-first century looks at modern phenomenon of knitting men. Striding the motorcycle and sporting skull- decorated hand-knitted tuque and elaborately made scarf, the metro- sexual man had entered the pattern books for knitters and crotchetier. Substituting somewhat boring models of the early 1990s and 1980s this "new man" is tough, good looking, and fashionably dressed. He also is sporting a friendly and sensitive smile and is able to model in much less gender specific surroundings such as a coffee shop or workplace cubicle. Things change drastically for the metrosexual when he takes the needles and starts to knit... in public. As handicraft circles spring up all across English speaking world there is more and more awareness of needlework as a communal undertaking. This paper addresses several conflicting issues in construction of masculinity and femininity in relations to handiwork. Using Raewyn Connell's notion of "hegemonic masculinity" I will address several aspects of "new masculinity" that recent interest in needle work by men bring to the forefront, for example, our understanding of traditional heterosexuality and changing norm of male hobbies. Using illustrations of the men and women knitting and or modelling knitted and crocheted objects in the online blogs and published literature I will investigate the notion of intimacy and sensuality between the sexes and between the same sex subjects to prove that when it comes to knitting by men and for men there is a significant degree of discomfort in representation of men enjoying knitting together and showing the products of their labour while the representation of women as community is as natural as it has been constructed for centuries.
In the latest issue of Fashion Theory, Patrik Steorn offers his paper "A Man Can Be Attractive and a Little Sexy": Masculinity in Change and Swedish Unisex Fashion in the 1960s and 1970s. Unisex fashion was a topical issue in Swedish fashion for around a decade, from 1964 to 1976. Various media reported on unisex fashion as a new and modern way of organising everyday life in union with a reorganisation of social categories on a structural level. But did unisex fashion really break down the gender system? What assumptions on masculinity and femininity lie behind the discourse on fashion without gender? The trope of masculinity in Swedish unisex fashion of the 1960s is the focus of this article. The author looks at the work of such designers as Rohdi Heintz, Sighsten Herrgard and the Mah-jong group. The origins and principles of their work differed, but the items they created were all equally used by the media as symbols of a new way of life. Steorn particularly examines the work of Sighsten Herrgard, who primarily created menswear, including the trademark one-piece, which brought Swedish fashion international popularity. The author also discusses the terminology of unisex in relation to gender and its transgressions, social change and fashion.
John Potvin offers Giorgio Armani and the Narratives of Masculinity: Cinema, Textiles and Segmented Markets. Italian designer Giorgio Armani was among the very first to realize the potential of niche marketing through the creation of lower priced diffusion collections. As a result, he created what would be commonly referred to as "white label", now labeled Armani Collezioni. The strategy was a means to captivate foreign markets, namely the North American audience; what he created was a sort of hybrid collection, at once Italian yet decidedly diluted for an American consumer. The white label collection made its initial debut in Milan in 1978, and was then marketed strategically in the US under the directional auspices of the newly created Giorgio Armani Men's Wear Corporation in 1979. The initiative made its spectacular debut in America on February 1, 1980 with the release of Ian Schrader's American Gigolo, for which Armani designed a forty-piece wardrobe for John Travolta, who was originally to play the lead character of Julian Kay. John Potvin argues that beyond the obvious and clear impact American and Italian cinema have had on the designer, the influence is directly palpable in the textiles he develops and uses. Through the theoretical lens of "haptic looking", Potvin exposes a vital and significant intersection between the Italian cultural propensity for touch, and the American obsession with visual stimuli in the work of Armani as it is presented on the "big screen".
In this issue's Body section is once more devoted to hands.
Elizabeth Fischer's Close Encounters of the Hand and Glove looks at the age-old hand accessory, tracing its history, as well as the practical and symbolic role of the glove in Western tradition and civilization. The history of these items goes back a long way, and despite countless new trends and fashion shifts, the basic form of the glove has changed little, calling to mind the concept of clothing as "second skin". Hugging each finger closely, the glove repeats the shape of the wearer's hand, ensuring such exceptional constancy: few other types of clothing have changed so little over the years. The author looks at the glove's evolution and changing relationship with hands and the wider environment, from the traditions of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century etiquette, to the new look of Christian Dior, modern cinema, the Belle Epoque, the artistic image of Paris's Cafes chantants and their depiction in the works of French artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec.
Examining manicure practices, in Three Colours of the Nail Ksenia Gusarova looks at the emergence in the early twentieth century of a cosmetic culture, unconnected with the concept of the natural. Lying at the heart of the previous century's beauty canons, this concept did retain its importance for some time. Where nails are concerned, natural beauty meant choosing tinting and polishing materials which accentuated the nails' pink hue and shine. Later, nail varnish was created in order more effectively to serve the same purpose: its ability to make nails shiny was particularly valued. Meanwhile, stage makeup for hands involved red nail varnish: conditions in the theatre, the lighting and distance between the stage and the audience could not help but affect the natural image.
In the early twentieth century, members of the bohemian arts scene took this practice outside the theatre, turning it into an important element in decadent aesthetics. With the appearance of nail varnish, red became a popular colour choice for manicure. This signaled a departure from nature not only in tone, but also in chemical composition: thus, red nails came to be seen as a sign of modernity and scientific progress. The author also looks at the emergence of white nail varnish with its connotations of purity as a consequence of the popularization of ideas on hygiene.
Natalia Lebina's Varnish for a Calloused Hand looks at Soviet kine- sics' use of hands and hand gestures as management tools and indicators of social stratification. The author pays particular attention to the role of human hands in the Soviet practices, which formed the contemporary "texts of the body", examining the discipline imposed by hygiene policy, and the search for new principles of body regulation in a changing socio-political context.
This issue's Culture section is devoted to drinks.
Galina Orlova offers The Discipline of Pleasure: A Perceptual Map of "Wine Conversations" in the Blogosphere. The radical changes which took place in wine culture and consumption practices in the 1990s can be examined not only in economic and political terms, but also as a "perceptual revolution". The resources and technology on offer for "new consumers" — from the brief description on the wine bottle to intricate wine festivals and other events — are aimed at intensifying and "profiling" experience, which promises greater pleasure. With the aid of specialized wine glossaries, sensations are scrupulously ranked, while models of organoleptic description serve to classify sensory experience. Consumers are taught to reflect, as special spaces are set up to enable communication and the sharing of experience, and dialogic taste calibration is promoted. The task of perceptually enlightening the masses went not only to wine critics, journalists, specialized merchants, wine stewards and marketing experts, but also to wine bloggers, who in Russia's blogosphere are themselves critics, sommeliers and other experts. The paper looks at their role in the construction and articulation of the "taste of wine" on interactive Russian-language internet sites.
Yulia Demidenko's What They Drank in Old St. Petersburg is a detailed history of alcohol consumption in Russia's "northern capital" from the city's foundation in the times of Peter's reforms, to the "drunken pogroms" following the 1917 revolution. Heavy drinking went on in Russia before the times of Peter the Great, Bakst notes; yet, with that Tsar came the differentiation of beverages, with different names beginning to appear in the writings of contemporaries: beer, old wine, Hungarian wine, Mosel wine etc. This period saw a real fashion for alcohol emerge. The paper looks at the history of vodka, beer, wine, champagne, cocktails and liquors, exploring how they were produced, sold and consumed. Using a broad range of sources including memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, and official statistics, Bakst weaves her study into the broader canvas of everyday Russian life over the space of two centuries.
In "Strong as Hell", and "It Bites": Vodka in Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century Russia, Irina Mikhailova tells us how vodka was drunk by Russia's Tsars and commoners over the ages. First mentioned in historical sources in 1517, Russia's favorite drink became popular among wealthy merchants and civil servants in the second half of the sixteenth century due to the country's Tsarist taverns. Under Peter the Great, vodka became universally accessible. Both Peter and later eighteenth-century monarchs took measures to accrue state wealth and to enrich the nobility with funds gained from the people — including those taken from the sale of alcoholic beverages. This led to a rapid rise in drinking in the country, with vodka becoming immensely popular among all social groups.
Andrei Rossomakhin offers Recent History through the Prism of the Beer Label. In this article, literary and art critic Andrei Rossomakhin chooses an unusual way of analyzing recent Russian history — through the evolution of the labels on beer bottles. In the last 15 years, beer has become an important element in the everyday lives of many Russians: thus, the efforts of producers striving to emphasize the uniqueness of their product through virtually the only available means can indeed be viewed as an appropriate indicator of the changes taking place in Russian society. The author of several books, Rossomakhin notes that beer makers are sensitive to social demand: the new century has seen several new trends emerge, from glamorous echoes of the old Russian empire in advertising campaigns, to labels featuring insignia of the ruling party and a revival of the old Soviet style.
Jessica Sewell in her paper Tea and Suffrage looks at the special link between tea and the emancipation of women in the early twentieth century. The author studies the ways in which members of the California women's suffrage movement used tea-drinking as a means to reach their goal. Considering the importance of tea in late nineteenth — early twentieth century America, Sewell argues that suffragettes made deliberate use of the associations which tea possessed with elegance, femininity and homeliness. Members of the suffrage movement, the author writes, would organize tea parties and sell tea at charity events in an attempt to prove that women were capable of following the latest political trends whilst remaining good housewives and retaining their refinement.
In the Practice of Fashion column, Tone Tobiasson tells A Modern Folk Tale — the story of the successful Norwegian designer Moods of Norway. Founded by Norwegians Peder B0rresen and Simen Staalnacke, along with Swedish partner in crime Stephan Dahlquist, the brand prides itself on making "happy clothing for happy people".
In the Life of Wonderful Things column, Raisa Kirsanova offers two papers. Our African Guest the Giraffe examines the emergence and spread of the fashion for giraffe print, while Chapeau Claque takes a detailed look at collapsible top hats, which first appeared in Russia in the 1830s, and were used until the early 20th century.
In the Books section, Alexander Markov offers Fashion and the Philosophers' Pupils, a review of Fashion Statements: On Style, Appearance and Reality, ed. R. Scapp, B. Seitz. New York, 2010.
Anna Zhabreva offers the bibliographical review New Books on Costume and Fashion: 2010-2011. Each year, we see new publications appear, highlighting different aspects of dress and fashion history, These include academic and popular editions, reference books, monographs and collections of articles; exhibition catalogues, magazine columns, gift albums, formal academic studies, modest teaching material of the most diverse appearance, content and function. Zhabreva's review looks at the books of interest to the fashion historian, which appeared in the last two years, and which are now available to buy, as well as rent from a library. The author also offers a list of Russian and foreign publications of 2010 and 2011, which have now appeared in Russia's major libraries.
Anna Lebsak-Kleimans offers My Name Has Become More Important than Me: a review of Joseph Hancock's Brand/Story: Ralph, Vera, Johnny, Billy, and Other Adventures in Fashion Branding, Fairchild Publications, 2009. 224 pp.
Marcia Pointon's Composing a Whole from the Fragments takes a look at The Anatomy of Fashion: Dressing the Body from the Renaissance to Today by Susan J. Vincent. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2009. 256 pp.
Fashion and Ideology: From Lenin to Gorbachev by Hans J. Rindisbacher reviews Djurdja Bartlett's Fashion East. The Spectre that Haunted Socialism. MIT Press, 2010. 344 pp.
In the Events section, Elena Igumnova offers A Photographer's Take on Fashion, a review of the "More than Fashion" exhibition at Moscow's Multimedia Art Museum.
Marco Pecorari presents Close-Knit: a look at "Unravel. Knitwear in Fashion" at the Fashion Museum of the Province of Antwerp, MoMu.
Maria Khachaturian's Chalayan the Anthropologist reviews "Hussein Chalayan, Recits de Mode" at Paris's "Les Arts Decoratifs".
In Postmodern Design Comes to the Art Museum, Alla Myzelev visits "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk" at Montreal's Museum of Fine Arts.
Olga Annanurova's Tracing the Roots of Contemporary Magazine Design takes a look at "Brodovich: from Diaghilev to Harper's Bazaar" at Moscow's Garage Center for Contemporary Culture.
Raisa Kirsanova presents Poiret at the Kremlin: a look at "Poiret — King of Fashion" at the Kremlin Museums.