Vintage Miscellany, May 3, 2015

I’m still without the use of my regular computer, so this post is coming to you courtesy of the world’s smallest and slowest laptop.  I’m hoping that things will be back to what passes for normal around here by the end of the week.  In the meantime, the internet has provided us with some interesting and thought-provoking content lately.

*   The Lilly Pulitzer for Target collaboration came, and fifteen minutes later it was gone.  Tens of thousands of the items ended up on ebay and many would-be buyers were left angered about the entire thing.  Why Target does not impose purchase limits on these special collections, I’ll never know.  The writer of the early 1980s cult classic, The Preppy Handbook, Lisa Birnbach, weighs in.

*   Who makes my clothes?  This was the question on many minds (and all over social media) last week as many people participated in Fashion Revolution Day, the purpose of which is to increase transparency in the clothing manufacturing business, and to hold manufacturers accountable when they continue to use unsafe factories.

* This next link has been all over the internet, so chances are you’ve already seen it.  Comedian John Oliver went on a seventeen minute long rant about fast fashion.  He isn’t saying anything new about the subject, but what makes this so important is that his audience is made up largely of the consumers of fast fashion.  I feel like I’m preaching to the choir whenever I rant about fast fashion because most people who read this blog are not in the fast fashion demographic. Oliver gets the point across by being funny and profane.

*  “…most everyone would be happier if all museums banned not only the selfie stick, but also cellphones and cameras.”  Here’s more in the on-going debate about banning cameras in museums.

* Perhaps they should put Anna Wintour in charge, as she has banned social media posts from this year’s Met Gala, which is tomorrow evening.

*  If there is any doubt this edict came from Wintour, you need to read this New York Times article about how she has complete control over the gala.

I’ve stated before that I’m uneasy with one person having so much power over the Costume Institute.  We can’t be so naive as to think that Wintour’s success at fund-raising for the Met is not being reflected in more than the renaming of the Costume Institute’s display area to the Anna Wintour Costume Center.

*   Why was the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture show such a snooze fest? According the curator, Andrew Bolton, it was the fault of the viewer: “The narrow-minded, often preconceived response it generated made me throw up my arms and think ‘I just can’t win.’”  Poor misunderstood Andrew.

This insight into the thoughts of one of the main curators at the Costume Institute is part of an article at Business of Fashion.  It’s an interesting look at how Bolton approaches the task of developing a show for the Met, as he talks through his ideas behind the soon to open spring show, China:Through the Looking Glass.  This exhibition sounds like a good one, highlighting the cultural give and take between China and the West.

According to Bolton, “In a way, the show isn’t really about China but about a fantasy of China, one that is shared between the East and the West.”  It sounds an awful lot like a Diana Vreeland exhibition, doesn’t it?  I suspect that this exhibition will be more successful than the last Bolton production, the Punk show because the topic lends itself more to his type of “intellectual” curating.

The problem with Punk was not with the viewers, it was with the way the material was presented.  We were given four categories in which post-punk fashion continued to be influenced by punk.  The problem came with the lack of punk examples.  Other than a few tee shirts of questionable authenticity and some Westwood/McLaren outfits, some of which were misdated, there was nothing with which to make the comparison.  So much authentic punk clothing was one-off, made by the wearer for his or her own use.  I can’t see that much of that material has made its way into museums unless worn by a rock star.

My response to Punk might be considered narrow-minded, but I do know when an exhibition does not achieve its stated goals.  And meeting those goals is the job of the curator.


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

6 responses to “Vintage Miscellany, May 3, 2015

  1. Ruth

    Punk was and is street fashion–what someone wears as their version of punk may not translate well into a fashion show. As you say, most of it, if not all, were one offs for the owner and elements were grabbed by the fashion industry. And even those elements were the more saleable kind because I don’t see some high end fashionista wanting to wear punk when she can wear the parts of it she wants, almost like a temporary costume. Maybe that can be considered part of the punk style? My kids were teenagers in that era of fashion and I know one of them only went for the more conservatie bits that he knew he could get away with! The bands and groupies, and some of their followers, were the ones more into the radical styles of punk. At least from what I could see of fashion. I think it might even have a lot to do with homeless teenagers living on the streets of big cities wanting their own fashion style?


  2. I too loved John Oliver. His delivery is very different from the (often hypocritical) preaching of fashion insiders which might help it reach consumers’ ears. And the food idea, perfect. More pressure of this kind on the fashion industry, I say!
    I think the problem with the punk exhibition is that punk can’t be curated and displayed attractively and when this is attempted, it looks contrived. Punk couldn’t be contained or controlled or branded. Ot it stops being punk. Anna Wintour is the opposite of punk, as is the bourgeois Met and unfortunately it was destined to fail.


  3. Christina

    Re: Fast fashion and holding manufacturers accountable. As far as I am concerned you can “rant” away Lizzie. Not only are the manufacturers accountable but the consumers need to be aware that they are supporting an industry dependent on low wages, poor working conditions and in some cases child labour. The more publicity that can be given to how fast fashion is produced the better. You may be preaching to the converted via this blog but I bet you are reaching a much greater audience than you think.


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