03 May 2009
Fall Fashion Forecast
An obvious F.Y.I., posting will continue to be wildly irregular from both of us until this fall, when I will be teaching my course, Gender and Women's Studies 490: The Politics of Fashion, again. I'll post at least once a week about this upper-division undergraduate seminar, to track the ups and downs of teaching that beauty and fashion are significant vectors of power. I'll be testing out new readings and assignments, including alternatives to the traditional seminar paper that might involve, say, a video ethnography of a mall (with references to Marianne Conroy's essay "Discount Dreams" on the outlet mall, Meaghan Morris' "Things to Do With Shopping Centers," or Elaine Abelson's When Ladies Go A-Thieving on middle-class women shoplifters in the Victorian era), or an art project along the lines of The Counterfeit Crochet or Emily Larned and Roxane Zargham's Lookbook 54, both fascinating commentaries on fashion's tensions between handmade luxury and homemade innovation in the first, and "traditional" standardization and temporary individualization in the second. Hell, I would also enjoy some sort of real-time performance piece, like The Grey Sweatsuit Revolution!
Meanwhile, I'm enjoying Tricia's thoughtfully composed query, "Would you wear garbage?", which is necessarily caught up in issues of "choice" and perceptions of value (including self-worth, whether one is invested in "I deserve only the best" or "I am a good person for being green and 'recycling'" or whatever), over at Bits and Bobbins.
And in the latest news about "racial-sartorial profiling," Florida's Palm Beach County Judge Laura Johnson ruled last week that the criminalization of "saggy pants," the result of a referendum targeting youth of color that had passed with the support of 72 percent of city voters the previous year, is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, Counterfeit Chic reports that Abercrombie & Fitch is back in the courtroom for racial discrimination, this time for designating certain hair hues as "appropriate" to black employees:
Former sales associate Dulazia Burchette claims that she was twice sent home to re-dye blonde highlights to a color she was "born with" before finally leaving A&F. According to the complaint, at least one other African American employee with nonconforming hair color was fired, another was allowed to work only in the stockroom until such time as she could dye her hair, and a third chose to wear a black wig. Caucasian employees' hair color and highlights were allegedly not subject to similar scrutiny.
Oh, Abercrombie, you never learn! I sure hope the New York Times is right -- that you're losing your "cool" at the mall, and taking a hit in the corporate pocketbook.
Lastly, I want to note that Minh-ha bought the Alexander McQueen tuxedo jumpsuit she fawned over here, and has successfully worn it to rave reviews!