From One Project to the Next

Can it really be the first day of October? Life is on warp speed it seems, and my days are packed.

Two weekends ago I co-chaired my first symposium — the Costume Society of America Midwest Symposium and Annual Meeting, titled “Uncommon Beauty.” The running gag between the three of us co-chairs was that the event was living up to its name — when it came down to it the event was quite uncommon. We had more than twice the normal number of attendees for a Midwest symposium, our speakers (some of whom became new CSA members or were from outside the region) presented on a really diverse range of topics, and we tried out a new presentation format for one session that we called Ideas Theater (as documented on my camera phone below — we asked presenters to host discussion groups).

I believe we pulled off a successful event due to the fact that the three of us co-chairs work so well together and share high expectations. I have to say a huge thank you to my great friends and colleagues Caroline and Michal Lynn. It was a pleasure collaborating together.

Now that the symposium is behind me and October is here, I find myself getting into the thick of the fall semester and a bunch of already-made commitments. I’ve got a few things in the works. I’m intensifying my efforts at work to turn the study collection into a more active, student and curriculum-centered space. On the side, I’m working on a series for the blog Raincoast Creative Salon on fashion-history game changers. For a personal project, I’m starting research on the intersection of ragtime music, dance, and fashion. And I have research and projects in the queue related to my volunteer position as VP of Technology for Costume Society of America. I’m tired just thinking about all this stuff ahead of me, but eager to refocus and make them happen.

Fashion History Nerd Week

Remember my plug for the Costume Society of America National Symposium in Vegas? Well the time has come. I’m at the symposium all week and will be nerding out to some great fashion history presentations. This is the time of year I can really revel in my passion with other people who are just as enthusiastic about fashion history and dress.

If you are attending, please don’t be shy, and come say hi!

Symposium Invitation

If you’ve been reading for awhile now, you’ve heard me talk about Costume Society of America (CSA). It’s an organization for people interested in the study of dress and fashion. One does not have to be a professional to join, but it has helped my career in a whole host of ways.

CSA’s annual symposium is coming up next month, and it’s definitely one of my favorite times of the year. We go to a different city each year for four days of lecturers, workshops, and social events devoted to fashion and its history, how people dress, and costume of all types. I always come back recharged and rededicated to fashion history.

This year’s conference is going to be in Las Vegas between May 29-June 1, and the schedule looks really good. If you’ve never been but wondered if it was worth it, let me assure you that it is. You will learn a lot, meet many really interesting people, and, this year, maybe see a great Vegas show!

The theme this year is Mining the History of Costume: Fantasy and Fact. The keynote speaker will be Jack Ricks, head of wardrobe for Cirque du Soleil’s show Zumanity. Personally I’m most excited for the presentations “Irene Castle: Ragtime Dance and Fashion Icon” from Patricia Cunningham and “Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style” from Kathy Peiss. I won’t miss the professional development session on “Freelancing as a Fashion Historian” either.

My plane flight and registration is booked. If you are at all on the fence, consider this your nudge to come. If this is your first introduction to CSA and you have any questions about the organization or the symposium, please do not hesitate to ask. And if you are going, please do tell me!

Touring OSU’s Costume Collection

This past weekend I attended the Costume Society of America Midwestern Symposium in Columbus, Ohio. I missed Friday’s session, which included some great tours to Lane Bryant and a mascot manufacturer, but got to hear all the papers on Saturday.

Plus Saturday’s session included a tour of Ohio State University’s Historic Costume and Textiles Collection. Here’s a taste of the tour snapped with my iPhone.

The picture above is a 1940s parachute silk wedding dress, a phenomenon of the WWII era. Silk was in short supply due to rationing, so some wedding dresses were made out of unused parachutes. The beauty of the dress above is that the dressmaker left in the original parachute label, so it is rich for researchers to study.

The pants and bodice in the lefthand picture were designed by Gianni Versace, and the dress on the right is a Paco Rabanne. Both are quintessential looks by each of their designers.

The tour was fantastic, and it was great to see so many of OSU’s treasures. Also, it was a bonus for me to see how the collection was organized and stored, so I can get ideas how to improve the collection I care for.

photos by Jacqueline WayneGuite

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.

Off Day

Good morning. I’m getting a bit of a late start today because I got home last night at 12:30 a.m. after a full day’s travel. Last week I was at the Costume Society of America national symposium in Atlanta, and it was a great time — for learning, networking, and socializing. My brain feels swollen today.

And my body hurts. Long conference days with little sleep will do that to you (especially when the hotel bed is too soft and leaves your lower back throbbing in the mornings). Not to mention that my plane landed in Minneapolis yesterday only to sit on the tarmac for more than an hour because of a security threat in the terminal, which had been completely evacuated for the bomb squad. Luckily I eventually did make it home.

So today’s a recovery day for me, and I’ll be back here tomorrow with a regular post. Thanks for understanding.

In the mean time, enjoy my guest “wedding graduate” post over on A Practical Wedding. And if you are coming over from APW, welcome! I hope you find something here you like — I post about fashion history, my life, art and design, and contemporary fashion. Please don’t hesitate if you have questions too! I’m so happy you stopped by.

Off To Costume Society of America

Every year I look forward to this week — Costume Society of America’s national symposium. This year the symposium is taking place in Atlanta. As a fashion historian, it’s a rejuvenating time to learn more about my subject, network and socialize with like-minded individuals, and give back to the organization.

I leave today because I serve on the Board of Directors, and we have our first of many meetings tonight. The actual symposium kick off is Wednesday afternoon, even though there are many pre-symposium events taking place. It runs until Saturday and will be jam packed with lectures, panels, lunches, a keynote speaker, and a few social events. We’ll be touring the Atlanta History Center later in the week.

It’s great timing this year, because within the last couple weeks I’ve been craving some sort of educational opportunity. I was thinking about taking a summer university course, but the start of the term caught me off guard and I wasn’t quite prepared. So I’m especially looking forward to taking in all the panels and speakers I can.

If you are going to the CSA national symposium, please let me know — either in the comments, on twitter, or shoot an email to me. I would love to meet you!