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 Text and Textile, Yulia Demidenko offers Words on Fabric: The Road to Egalitarianism. The paper looks at the evolution of inscriptions on fabric, from the first texts of ancient civilizations to the logos and slogans on today's T-shirts. This evolution is largely connected with the development of democratic ideals, including enlightenment and universal literacy. The sacred texts, which appeared on the precious fabrics of antiquity, were understood by few. Yet the secularization of private life, and the spread of literacy in more recent times meant that both textile workers such as embroiderers, and their clients, were able to master the alphabet in order to compose inscriptions and abbreviations. Most recently, the tendencies of egalitarianism, coupled with the de-sacralization of words as such, have brought about complete freedom for individuals to choose any letters, words and texts, and to reproduce them on cheap — and therefore, universally accessible — textile items. Another contemporary trend is the popular desire to produce texts clearly associated with one's person, and to make them universally known.
Colleen McQuillen presents Reading Costumes at The Artists' Balls: Innovative Designing at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts — a paper, which takes a look at fin-de-siecle masked balls. The fundamental premises of costuming underwent a reconceptualization at the findesiecle costume balls organized by students of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. The result was a new artistic medium that combined elements of collage and theater to produce an innovative articulation of modernism's emergent individualism. Whereas in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the socio-cultural institution of masquerade established conventions of dress and comportment that emphasized personal disguise and anonymity, the modernist approach to costuming was predicated on personal opinion and originality. The function of the modernist masquerade costume was to celebrate the individual of exceptional creativity, who would be awarded a public prize attesting to her artistic sensibility and guaranteeing social recognition. Innovative approaches to costuming came about after the state's control of visual and performing arts in Russia weakened in the 1870s and 1880s. The unbridled experimentation in costume represented a vital, yet heretofore marginalized prelude to Russia's Silver Age Cultural florescence.
Marina Blumin's The Textile Bestiary of Raoul Dufy examines the French painter's work with fabrics. One of the masters of contemporary avant-garde, Dufy worked with the well-known designer Paul Poiret, and for many years produced fabric designs for the Lyon textile manufacturer Bianchini Ferier. Many of Dufy's creations in the area were obviously influenced by avant-garde art, yet more detailed study shows that his ornamental motifs possessed much deeper and more diverse links with a whole host of areas including ancient mythology, medieval art, French poetry and graphic art.
Jacqueline M. Atkins presents Wearing Propaganda: Textile on the Home Front in Japan, Great Britain, and America during the Greater East Asian War, 1931—1945 — a paper which deals with propaganda textiles. Textiles and clothing, although not normally thought of as vehicles for propaganda, can provide excellent public and personal canvases for the expression of patriotic and nationalistic ideas and feelings, serving as visible markers of national unity and support for military and political goals. The textiles which are examined in this article, unknown by many today but fashionable in their time, played just such a role during the Greater East Asian War (1931-1945), first in Japan, and later in Britain and America. Made for civilian use and patterned with wartime motifs (e.g. battleships, bombers, and children dressed as soldiers) and slogans (V for Victory), the fabrics are provocative records both of the patriotic fervor of the period abd the civilian support in all three countries of the national mission of 'total war'.
Ivanovo's Agitprop Textiles: Design and Inscriptions by Galina Ka reva analyses a striking and original phenomenon in Soviet art and social life: the 'agitprop' textiles of the 1920s and 1930s. The period proved an historic one for the town of Ivanovo-Voznesensk, which came to be known as 'Red Manchester' and the Third proletarian capital. In this paper Kareva, who works at Ivanovo's Burylin State Museum of Local History, looks at the workings of the powerful Soviet propaganda machine in an area seemingly as utilitarian and everyday as textile manufacture. The author shows how the stylistic experiments of Soviet architects, rapid expansion of housing, social and industrial construction, and the manufacture of Ivanovo's textiles in fact took place within a single ideological space.
In this issue's Body section devoted to Fashion Victims, Bad Hats by Clair Hughes looks at the historical origins of two types of hats. For three centuries, men's beaver hats were a sign of social status and respectability. Looking at female headwear, Hughes focuses on the tall ostrich-feathered items in favor in the late nineteenth century. Both types of headgear, it appears, have a bloody history. Tracing the roots of their creation through different countries and cultural traditions, Hughes succeeds in showing us the true cost of these 'beautiful' items, whilst shedding light on some forgotten points and bringing up some interesting tidbits of information.
Alison Matthews David in her paper on 'Mad' Hatters, or Mercurial Styles and Persistent Toxins focuses on men's hats. Malleable, waterproof, and stylish, felt was the fabric of choice for men's headgear for centuries. Hatters transformed beaver, rabbit, and hare pelts into the elegant tricornes and top hats gracing the heads of European gentlemen. Despite their undeniable functionality, their high exchange value in the fashion system and constant shifts in silhouette made them as 'irrational' and desirable as women's fashions. Men's dress history is often staged as a rational, linear trajectory, but hats disprove this model. When beavers were overhunted to procure the raw materials for hats, eighteenth-century hatters turned to lesser-quality furs, such as hare and rabbit, which required a mercury solution in order to make the hairs supple, durable and easy to felt. These materials literally caused neurological disturbances in the 'mad' hatters who made them. As early as the 1750s, doctors were aware that this mercury solution was lethal. By the twentieth century, medical professionals had more accurate diagnostic tools and equipment to measure the damage done to hatters' health, but scientists had failed to find viable, inexpensive alternatives to mercury in this industry. As late as the 1930s, hatters were still being diagnosed with severe trembling in the extremities, excessive salivation, blue gums, mental confusion, and other symptoms of chronic mercurialism. While the damage done to the health of hatters themselves is clear from almost two hundred years of medical studies, new evidence from histories of urban pollution suggests that the hatting trades also harmed the population at large. Because of the scale of the industry, its central location near the Seine in Paris, and the type and quantity of mercury salts released into the local atmosphere by processes like boiling the felt hats to shrink them to size, may have caused the mass poisoning of up to 40,000 local inhabitants in the late 1820s.
Portable Pets: Live and Apparently Live Animals in Fashion, 1885— 1920 by Julia Long turns to a particular type of 'fashion victim' — animals killed, in order to complete this or that costume. In the late nineteenth - early twentieth centuries, well-dressed women around the world embraced the emerging trends of animal-bedecked styles. Both live and stuffed beasts were lavishly featured in daily ensembles, and the beauty of the natural world was assimilated into the world of fashion. Long's paper examines this trend and its various avenues, looking specifically at the incorporation of live and stuffed animals into dress, the popularity of taxidermy, and the methods of reanimating dead creatures. The article also takes into account the dual underlying reasons for this trend: the pervasive interest in the natural world, and the special affinity women had for animals.
He Dies so Beautifully! 'Ailment' as Part of the Fashionable Image by Linor Goralik looks at the social mechanisms and personal strategies used to integrate symptoms of disease, disability or divergence from the physical norm into trendy styles and images. Giving a brief overview of these strategies and mechanisms, Goralik shows how ailments can be used to gain street cred when combined with pointedly traditional components of a fashionable image. Through the notion of ailment in fashion, the author analyses the mechanisms, through which the private — pain, suffering, physical discomfort — exists within the public space. Goralik looks at the patterns of meaning lent to the fashionable image by this or that redacted ailment through a shifting of the borders of the private and public within that image. Such patterns may include heightened individuality, a certain distinctive character, adherence to this or that social group of high status, resources for developing fashionable group behavior etc. With these patterns in mind, Goralik suggests we then examine the opposite process, in which fashionable images including 'ailment' dictate rigid norms of social behavior to those, genuinely suffering from a particular physical condition.
This issue's Culture section is devoted to food.
Recognition is a chapter from Le Discours Gastronomique Fra^ais des Origines a Nos fours (Paris, 1998) by the French cultural historian Pascal Ory. The excerpt has hitherto never been published in Russian. In this chapter, the author describes the gradual recognition and glorification of French gastronomic literature in intellectual circles after 1968. That year saw the publication of Volume 3 (The Origin of Tables Manners) of Claude Levi-Strauss's Mythologiques: the first volume of the cycle, The Raw and the Cooked, had appeared four years previously. With the success of nou- velle cuisine, France's intelligentsia began to rethink its approach to matters hitherto considered 'plebeian'.
In 'fames Bond Was Not a Gourmet': An Archaeology of fames Bond's Diet, Edward Biddulph delves into the gastronomic life of Agent 007. Along with the Martinis (shaken, not stirred!), swashbuckling adventures, beautiful women and dastardly villains, James Bond's alimentary experiences were very much part of the entire Bond phenomenon. In postwar Britain, few of Ian Fleming's readers were in a position to sample the dishes featured in the first Bond books. Yet the author was not trying to make Bond lovers feel bitter by describing culinary delights they could not procure. Fleming's books, on the contrary, fulfilled a certain patriotic function by portraying Britain in a favorable light. Caviar and other exotic morsels apart, however, Bond's usual menu included eggs for breakfast, seafood for lunch, and red meat for dinner, with scrambled eggs and rare steak among his firm favorites. 007 has a serious interest in food. In the final part of the paper, Biddulph concludes that the agent's diet posed a real threat not only to his health, but also to his security. Indeed, James Bond can be examined as a sort of gastro-tourist in constant mortal danger.
'Plus the De-Stalinization of All Foods': Dietary Preferences during Khrushchev's Reforms, A Historical Anthropological Analysis by Natalia Lebina looks at the practice and culture of food in the 1950s — 1960s USSR. The process of de-Stalinization brought about trends such as the democratizing of the Soviet socio-political system, and greater contact with the West. In the fifties and sixties, these changes came to affect not only the USSR's food trade and the style of Soviet canteens, but also the gastronomic preferences of ordinary people. Soviet alimentary tastes came closer to Western rational nutritional standards. At the same time, Soviet dietary preferences of the fifties and sixties could not but be affected by the chaotic nature of Khrushchev's policies.
Sergei Petrov studies the emergence of Russia's foodies in Cooking as a Hobby in Russia: An Attempt at a Historical Essay. The term 'foodie' was coined by journalists Paul Levy and Ann Barr, and is taken to imply cooking aficionados, distinct from gourmets, with an ardent passion for every aspect of food. Petrov explores what magazines Russian foodies read, what television programs they watch, how they are likely to evolve, and what caused them to appear in the first place. Russia's foodies, he writes, emerged as a result of cookery being adopted as a hobby in the West — but some 20-25 years later. Russian fashions tended to follow those of the West in many areas, such as pop music or general lifestyle, and by the 2000s, the new political landscape in the country had created a favorable basis for foodies, as restaurants opened and imported food retail grew. Far from being over, the author concludes, the foodie trend in Russia is likely to expand and deepen further: thus, in the near future we may well witness new forms of gastronomic fashion in the country.
In the Museum Business column, Kirill Babayev presents On the Typology of Russian Headwear — a history of kokoshniks, kichkas, so- rokas and many other traditional items. The paper dispels many commonly held delusions on the subject.
In the Practice of Fashion column, we offer Exotic Regrets — Ksenia Shcherbino's interview with designer Aoi Kotsuhiroi, known for her striking and often disturbing work.
To honor the centenary of the publication of Simmel's Philosophische Kultur, in the Books section we present Alexander Markov's Georg Simmel: Reviving Fashion.
Djurdja Bartlett reviews Goscilo H., Strukov V. (eds). Celebrity and Glamour in Contemporary Russia: Shocking Chic (London: Routledge, 2011).
Tatiana Karateyeva's A Red Army Soldier instead of a Rose: Textiles for Soviet People offers a review of '100 % Ivanovo. Agitprop Textiles of the 1920s and 1930s from Ivanovo's Burylin State Museum of Local History', an entry in the 2010 Vladimir Potanin Foundation's 'First Publication' contest. The competition centers around the publication of material on unique Russian museum collections.
In Unhealthy Thinness, Maria Khachaturian reviews Muriel Darmon's Devenir Anorexique. Une Approche Sociologique (Paris: La Decouverte, 2008,350 pp.)
Well-forgotten Old by Ksenia Gussarova takes a look at Guffey E.E. Retro: The Culture of Revival. London: Reaktion Books, 2006.188 pp.; ill.
Hans Rindisbacher reviews Djurdja Bartlett's FashionEast: The Spectre that Haunted Socialism. The MIT Press, 2010. 326 pp.; ill.
In the Events section, Bella Neuman offers two exhibition reviews. Sonia Delaunay: An Exercise in Color looks at 'Color Moves: Art & Fashion by Sonia Delaunay', which ran at New York's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum between 18 March and 19 June 2011. In Alexander McQueen. Primordial Beauty, Neuman visits the 'Savage Beauty' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, New York (4 May — 7 August 2011).
The Code of Dior by Elena Igumnova is a review of 'Inspiration Dior' at Moscow's Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (28 April — 24 July 2011).
Ksenia Shcherbino's The Naivete of the Imperial Divertissements explores 'Alternative Fashion before Glossies, 1985 —1995' at Moscow's Garage Center for Contemporary Culture (28 April — 13 June 2011).
In A Pug in a Poke, Ksenia Shcherbino shares her impressions of 'Aware: Art Fashion Identity' at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2 December 2010 - 30 January 2011).