Materiality of fashion is a central theme uniting fashion books published this September. Julia Bryan-Wilson maps the textile politics in her book Frey. Fashion in Steel by Stefan Krause asks why does the Landsknecht armor of Wilhelm von Rogendorf look the way it does? Textiles, embellishments and 3-dimentionality is embodied in the work of John Galliano, which Robert Fairer has cataloged into a new book featuring the designers previous collections. Fashion Ethics by Sue Thomas is an important contributions to the critical discourses around fashion and its material production.
Fray: Art and Textile Politics, 1970s-1990s by Julia Bryan-Wilson
In 1974, women in a feminist consciousness-raising group in Eugene, Oregon, formed a mock organization called the Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. Emblazoning its logo onto t-shirts, the group wryly envisioned female collective textile making as a practice that could upend conventions, threaten state structures, and wreak political havoc. Elaborating on this example as a prehistory to the more recent phenomenon of “craftivism” the politics and social practices associated with handmaking Fray explores textiles and their role at the forefront of debates about process, materiality, gender, and race in times of economic upheaval. Closely examining how amateurs and fine artists in the United States and Chile turned to sewing, braiding, knotting, and quilting amid the rise of global manufacturing, Julia Bryan-Wilson argues that textiles unravel the high/low divide and urges us to think flexibly about what the politics of textiles might be.
Her case studies from the 1970s through the 1990s including the improvised costumes of the theater troupe the Cockettes, the braided rag rugs of US artist Harmony Hammond, the thread-based sculptures of Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuna, the small hand-sewn tapestries depicting Pinochet’s torture, and the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt are often taken as evidence of the inherently progressive nature of handcrafted textiles. Fray, however, shows that such methods are recruited to often ambivalent ends, leaving textiles very much “in the fray” of debates about feminized labor, protest cultures, and queer identities; the malleability of cloth and fiber means that textiles can be activated, or stretched, in many ideological directions.
The first contemporary art history book to discuss both fine art and amateur registers of handmaking at such an expansive scale, Fray unveils crucial insights into how textiles inhabit the broad space between artistic and political poles high and low, untrained and highly skilled, conformist and disobedient, craft and art.
Published by University of Chicago Press
Fashion in Steel by Stefan Krause
This illustrated book celebrates a curious masterpiece of German Renaissance art, the Landsknecht armor of Wilhelm von Rogendorf (1523). Recently conserved to its original glory, this magnificent suit of armor, made for a trusted courtier, diplomat, and commander of infantry units for the Habsburgs, deceives the eye: the steel sleeves drape in graceful folds, with cuts in the surface, suggesting the armor is made from cloth rather than metal. The author of this fascinating volume explores the question: why does the armor look this way?
Stefan Krause delves back five centuries to the political, social, and cultural context in which von Rogendorf lived. Among other key venues in the Holy Roman Empire, this story takes the reader to the court of Emperor Charles V in Spain and to Augsburg, the leading center of armor making, where Rogendorf was introduced to the court armorer of Charles V, Kolman Helmschmid (1471-1532). Helmschmid was famous for his inventive and masterfully sculptured works, and this book elaborates on his unique contributions to the history of armor, and how and why von Rogendorf’s suit was informed by contemporary fashion.
Published by Yale University Press
John Galliano: Unseen by Robert Fairer & Claire Wilcox
Now creative director of Maison Margiela, John Galliano started his career in London in the late 1980s, straight after graduating from Central Saint Martins. After being appointed head designer of Christian Dior in 1996, Galliano continued to create two collections a year for his namesake brand. They acted in many ways as a laboratory of ideas, allowing him to let his imagination run wild, free from both the commercial pressures associated with a house as iconic and as global as Dior and the influence of the hallowed house’s iconic pieces – a pure expression of his personal design style.
Opening with an essay on the designer’s work, John Galliano: Unseen unfolds chronologically. Thirty collections are included, each introduced by a short text by Claire Wilcox, revisiting the designer’s most iconic creations and revealing previously unseen behind-the-scenes moments that capture models, hairdressers, stylists, makeup artists and John Galliano himself at their most creative. Robert Fairer’s stunning and high-energy photographs capture the glamour and frenzy that defined Galliano’s shows. A treasure-trove of inspiration, they make this publication a must-have reference for fashion and photography lovers alike.
Published by Thames and Hudson
Fashion Ethics by Sue Thomas
Fashion Ethics provides a comprehensive overview of the ethical issues in the fashion industry, from collection design concept to upcycling and closed loop production. This book answers an urgent need for a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental ethics of the fashion industry.
Sue Thomas goes beyond the usual contentious issues of environmental impact and human rights, taking the reader deeper into the endemic issues including sizeism, ageism, animal rights, and the lack of diversity in models and in the media. The book lays out the significant ethical issues within the fashion supply chain by mapping the lifecycle of a garment and exploring key topics such as deep ecology, cultural copyright speciesism, the role of the customer, and technology in future ethics. It also features current international industry information and industry-relevant case studies from brands, media and mobile technology, and NGOs including Oxfam (UK), Redress (Hong Kong), Nimany (US), Labor Link (US), People Tree (UK), and Peppermint (Australia).
Published by Routledge