Friday File

One of the cool parts of my job is going to vintage fashion auctions. A few weeks ago I bid at Augusta Auctions in New York by telephone and won a stunning 1916 dress for my fashion study collection. My heart was beating so hard and fast, especially when my telephone proxy said I won. It’s a euphoric high. Yesterday, I went to a local auction, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, and was not as lucky. You win some, you lose some I guess.

Here’s a few links from the week:

Did you hear that Pantone’s 2014 “Color of the Year” is radiant orchid? Christina Brinkley of The Wall Street Journal explains how Pantone comes up with their color of the year.

Fall in love with a Charles James’ Hipster dress in the Met’s preview video for the Costume Institute exhibition this summer.

Do you know when to use historic vs. historical? I’ll be honest, I didn’t know there was a difference until I read this.

I can’t wait to read this biography/memoir of Vivienne Westwood. “Vivienne is wonderfully candid. I sat there with my jaw on the table for a lot of it. Especially about what went on in the 1970s, ” Ian Kelly, the book’s co-author, said.

Have a great weekend! And don’t forget to enter my Laurel Denise 2014 planner giveaway!

2013 Gift Guide – Fashion History Books

My next holiday gift post is for any budding fashion historians or vintage fashion collectors. I’ve got some books that will be excellent additions to a personal library.

These first three books are great reference books. If you know someone who wants to learn more about fashion history, you can’t go wrong with any of these.

Fashion: A History From the 18th to the 20 Century from the Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute is a gorgeous book. The pages are filled with full color photographs that bleed off the page of some of the finest clothes that were ever created. The pieces featured are the height of fashion through three centuries.

The next book, 100 Ideas That Changed Fashion by Harriet Worsley, chronicles fashion history through specific aesthetic influences, movements, designers, events, technology improvements, and more. Each spread is a snap shot on a limited topic that impacted fashion. These snippets are fascinating.

Fashion: A Visual History from Regency and Romance to Retro and Revolution by NJ Stevenson, is set up as a chronological timeline that looks at women’s and men’s style from period to period, major designers, and innovations in types of garments. Again, broken up into spreads, it covers a lot of ground to give a well-rounded picture of changing Western fashion.

Moving on the collecting side of fashion history, these next two books are great for anyone who dreams of assembling their own collection.

Your Vintage Keepsake: A CSA Guide to Costume Storage and Display by Margaret T. Ordonez introduces the reader to the basic aspects of caring for historic fashion. He/she will learn the foundations to caring for and displaying clothing.

If your giftee wants to get serious about collecting fashion or textiles, Preserving Textiles: A Guide for the Nonspecialist by Harold F. Mailand and Dorothy Stites Alig takes things up a notch. This book covers more technical aspects of collection management and exhibition. I highly recommend this guide.

P.S. More gift ideas on my Pinterest board!

Holly and ivy graphic by MyCuteGraphics.

Plans in Motion

Happy New Year!

Today is my first day back at work after taking a nice, long, relaxing holiday. It feels a little weird to get back to the grind, but I need some motivation to be productive again. Near the end of my vacation I didn’t end up accomplishing much. In fact, yesterday was spent on the couch because I overdid it in the gym and injured my legs.

I’m looking forward to 2013. I have a long list of goals to accomplish and plans to carry out in the new year.

One of which is to read more books. I’m going to dive further into the Hemingways’ lives. I’ve made a list of books that include a biography on Ernest’s second wife Pauline, his official biography, a fictionalized account of his relationship with his first wife Hadley, and a book about all of his wives. Also on it are a number of Hemingway’s novels (I just finished The Sun Also Rises over break) and his memoir. After Hemingway, I’m thinking about tackling the Fitzgeralds. Zelda seems incredibly interesting, and many suspect that F. Scott plagiarized his work from his wife’s writings. I want to try to read a number of F. Scott’s novels as well because I haven’t read anything other than The Great Gatsby in high school. It looks like I’m infatuated with the Lost Generation. I plan to punctuate the novels and historical books with things on fashion theory and history.

Some of my plans involve this blog. I’ve actually created a more detailed and longer-term calendar about what I’m going to write about. I have left room to react to current events or new things I find though. I will be making some tweaks to the design as well — or at least Liz and Josh from Pink Slip Industries are!

I have some travel plans in sight for 2013. Near the end of January I will be going to Alt Summit, a blogging conference, in Salt Lake City. I’m really hoping to see the punk exhibition at the Met in New York, and I’ll be accompanying my husband to Mexico to shoot a wedding. I’ve never been to Mexico so I’m very excited, especially about the ruins.

So here’s to a fruitful 2013!

Book File – Paris Without End

Paris Without End, by Gioia Diliberto, photo by Jacqueline WayneGuite

It’s been awhile since I did a Book File post, because I’ve been a bit too busy for spare-time reading. Since I moved to Chicago, my reading time has mostly been during my commute to and from work, which isn’t distraction free.

I picked up Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway’s First Wife by Gioia Diliberto back at the end of October and have finally finished it. As the title indicates, the book is a biography of Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, who married Ernest Hemingway in 1921. She was known throughout her life as Hadley.

Near the beginning of Hadley’s marriage to Ernest, they moved to Paris. Hadley struggled with self confidence early in her life, and Ernest helped bring out some of her bravery. Even though she was content not pursuing her own artistic career, as was fashionable in the American-expat circle they were part of, Hadley learned to navigate foreign countries, pursued athletic sports, and kept up with Ernest and his buddies when they drank. She was a flawed, loving, and gracious woman with many layers. Just when you’d think she was a pushover, Hadley’s story showed she wasn’t as simple as first or second appearances.

The biography was a little slow, and it focused mostly on Hadley’s relationship with Ernest. Their marriage was only 5 1/2 years long, but takes up the majority of the book. Her second marriage, which lasted nearly the rest of her life, was overshadowed in the book by a continued friendship with Ernest. I realize the author was most interested in Hadley’s relationship with Ernest, hence the title of the book, but I was a little disappointed that there was little about her that did not involve Ernest in some way. It was clear that there was a lot more to her than her first marriage.

Reading about Hadley and the expatriates in Ernest’s circle was fascinating, and I’m thinking about picking up a biography on Pauline Pfeiffer, Ernest’s second wife, soon. Hadley was a reasonable woman, who cared a great deal about her husband’s writing career and traveling. She did not care for the flipperies of fashion. But Pauline was a style maven. She worked for French Vogue and had a big trust fund. Paris Without End does not paint Pauline in a favorable light, but I’m curious what a biography on her might say.

And like I mentioned yesterday, some of the descriptions of bobbed hair and 1920s fashion in the book inspired my recent hair chop. Funny, because Hadley had beautiful, long hair when she first met Ernest, but hated her hair after she bobbed it. She never felt comfortable or chic with it short, according to the biography.

I should also note that I’ve started The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway’s second novel. It was written during his marriage to Hadley. Although she inspired a lot of his writing, there’s little of her in this book. Instead, it’s filled with glamorous and foolhardy characters based on Ernest’s friends during the 1920s.

Book File – Symposium Goodies

It seems I can’t go to a Costume Society symposium without a bunch of new books finding their way into my luggage. This year I really tried to be more conscious of the weight they would add to my bag. In the end this was my haul:

Performance, Fashion and the Modern Interior: From the Victorians to Today edited by Fiona Fisher, Trevor Keeble, Patricia Lara-Betancourt, and Brenda Martin
I bought this book from the Berg/Bloomsbury table. The intersection of all these topics sound very interesting, and I’m excited to read the essays in it.

Women’s Bathing and Swimming Costume in the United States by Claudia B. Kidwell
This book came from the CSA silent auction. Bathing attire has always been a fringe interest of mine, and I want to learn more.

Gold Rush Women by Claire Rudolf Murphy & Jane G. Haigh
This was another book that came from the silent auction. I actually ended up in a bit of a bidding war with another member/friend, but it turned out that she was more interested in a different book that came bundled with this one. So I ended up trading with her for the book that came bundled with the bathing suit book and we both got what we wanted.

Fashion Theory, Volume 15, Issue 1 & 2, 2011
The Berg table was giving away Fashion Theory journals for free, so naturally I jumped on them. Turns out I already own Issue 2, so I guess I have a copy to find a new home for. Fashion Theory is an excellent journal and always publishes very interesting articles.

Textile, Volume 9, Issue 2, July 2011
Another free journal at the Berg table. The article on the Keiskamma Tapestry caught my eye, because I saw it at the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town when I did my graduate study abroad in South Africa.

Book File – New to My Bookshelf

I love books. My husband can attest that our bookshelves are overflowing. But this never stops me when I see a great new title.

I recently finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. So many friends recommended this novel to me, and it was a light-hearted, enjoyable read. The whole book is written through letters between the main character, Juliet, and her friends, family, and new acquaintances on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel. The novel is about friendship, love, career, and literature. As a fashion historian, I was entertained that Juliet makes reference to clothing coupons used during and just after World War II for rationing purposes.

And on my last trip to Minneapolis, we stopped in two bookstores, prompting a few more purchases.

The first was a used bookstore, and I found the book Massive Change which accompanied an exhibition of the same name I saw at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2006. The exhibition changed both the way I thought of museum shows — that they could be catalysts for social and environmental change — and design — that it could address social, environmental, and other cultural needs. I’m so happy I scored this book.

The second book bought in Minneapolis was found in a independent bookstore. Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy is the catalogue of another exhibition with the same name. This exhibition was put together by the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The book is filled with gorgeous color photos of garments in the collection and on the runway, and is broken down thematically. I’m sure I’ll use it in my future research, especially when talking about the body and its presentation through fashion.

World Book Night

Last week the indie book and gift store in downtown Fargo — Zandbroz — sent out a message on Facebook that they were looking for volunteers for World Book Night. Without really knowing what that was, I signed up. I like books and a night that celebrates them sounded good to me.

Well it turns out that World Book Night started last year in the U.K. and now it’s come to the United States. Sponsored by the nonprofit World Book Night U.S., people hand out free copies of official World Book Night paperback books in their communities. Ideally, the goal is for these free books to find their way into the hands of light and non-readers.

A week ago we gathered at the store to pick up our books. I received 20 copies of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. There were 12 of us passing out books around the Fargo area — some other books that were given out included The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Housekeeping, Bell Canto, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Then on Monday evening, we each set out to hand out books. Some people went downtown, others to the local mall, and some to the college campuses in Moorhead, Minnesota (just across the river from Fargo). I went to North Dakota State University’s student gym, and stopped students on their way out.

In less than an hour I had given away all my books. More people accepted them than said no. I found it was a little easier when I approached individuals rather than big groups. Most people seemed a little confused, but genuinely happy to get a free book.

It was kind of invigorating approaching people and offering them books. I hope I get to do this again next year.