University of Fashion Blog

Posts by: Antonia Sardone

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Antonia Sardone is a new contributor to the University of Fashion. She is also a freelance fashion consultant, stylist and writer. Antonia Sardone graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Communications, Marketing and Fashion Journalism. She is an industry veteran having worked for WWD for over fifteen years and has strong relationships with designers worldwide. Today, Antonia Sardone continues to write reviews for WWD as well as work with many contemporary designers on a variety of projects from helping to re-launch their websites to writing their brand books. She enjoys raising her children to be creative individuals, as well as styling, writing and traveling.

CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE: THE INTERSECTION OF BLACK HISTORY, ART & FASHION

Black History Month Image. (Photo Credit: Break The Tape Leadership)

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we are reminded of the mark that African Americans have left on the arts. Within this kaleidoscope of expression, the realm of fashion emerges as a vibrant canvas where Black visionaries have sculpted history, broke barriers, and have redefined norms. Join UOF as we delve into the world of African American creativity, as we explore the narratives, styles, and some of the individuals who are shaping the fashion industry today.

At the nexus of cultural expression and sartorial innovation, Black designers stand tall, their creations echoing the richness of their heritage while pushing the boundaries of contemporary fashion. Names like Telfar Clemens, Duro Olou, LaQuan Smith, and Christopher John Rogers resonate with a new generation of fashion enthusiasts, infusing their collections with narratives that transcend mere garments, weaving stories of resilience, empowerment, and identity. Join us as we explore these influential persons of color, who are leaving an indelible mark on the fashion landscape.

TELFAR CLEMENS

Telfar Shopping Bag. (Photo Credit: Telfar)

A pioneer of inclusivity and accessibility, Telfar Clemens has revolutionized luxury fashion with his unisex designs and iconic Telfar Shopping Bag, also called the “Bushwick Birkin,” the brand’s best-selling item. His eponymous label, Telfar, stands as a testament to his commitment to democratizing style and celebrating individuality.

AURORA JAMES

Aurora James and her Brother Vellies Shoes. (Photo Credit: Dre Bless)

Founder of the 15 Percent Pledge, Aurora James has emerged as a leading voice for diversity and representation within the fashion industry. Through her advocacy and her brand, Brother Vellies, James champions BIPOC designers and artisans, amplifying their voices and ensuring their inclusion on the global stage.

OLIVIER ROUSTEING

Cher with Olivier Rousteing Closes Balmain Spring 2023 Runway Show in Custom Jumpsuit. (Photo Credit: WWD)

As the creative director of Balmain, Olivier Rousteing has redefined luxury with his opulent designs and boundary-pushing aesthetic. With a focus on diversity and empowerment, Rousteing has transformed Balmain into a symbol of inclusivity and modernity.

DURO OLOWU

A look from Duro Oolowu’s Spring 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Renowned for his eclectic prints and masterful use of color, Duro Olowu celebrates the beauty of diversity in every stitch. His eponymous label reflects his global perspective and unwavering commitment to craftsmanship, earning him accolades from fashion insiders and enthusiasts alike. Oh, and did you know he is married to Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the world’s leading institution devoted to visual arts by artists of African descent.

KENNETH IZE

A look from Kenneth Ize’s Fall 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Drawing inspiration from his Nigerian heritage, Kenneth Ize infuses traditional textiles with a contemporary twist, creating vibrant and dynamic collections that celebrate African culture. His innovative designs have garnered international acclaim, positioning him as a rising star in the fashion world.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN ROGERS

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Pre-Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

With his bold use of color and theatrical silhouettes, Christopher John Rogers captivates audiences with his unapologetic celebration of joy and self-expression. His eponymous label reflects his belief in the transformative power of fashion, empowering individuals to embrace their true selves.

LAQUAN SMITH

A look from LaQuan Smith’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

From dressing global icons to redefining notions of sensuality and empowerment, LaQuan Smith is a force to be reckoned with in the world of fashion. His eponymous label exudes confidence and sophistication, embodying the essence of modern glamour.

VICTOR GLEMAUD

Designer Victor Glemaud walks the runway with a model from his Spring 2023 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Championing knitwear as a canvas for self-expression, Victor Glemaud creates luxurious and versatile pieces that blur the lines between fashion and art. His inclusive approach to design celebrates diversity and individuality, inspiring a new generation of knitwear enthusiasts.

THEBE MAGUGU

A look from Thebe Magugu’s Spring 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Hailing from South Africa, Thebe Magugu infuses his designs with storytelling and symbolism, exploring themes of heritage, identity, and empowerment. His eponymous label reflects his commitment to social commentary and cultural preservation, earning him acclaim from critics and consumers alike.

TORISHEJU DUMI

Naomi Campbell walking the runway for Torishéju Dumi’s spring 2024 collection in Paris. (Photo Credit: Torishéju Dumi)

With her avant-garde designs and sculptural silhouettes, Torisheju Dumi pushes the boundaries of fashion, creating wearable works of art that defy convention. Her visionary approach to design reflects her belief in the power of fashion to inspire and transform.

A SHOUT OUT TO THE QUEEN BEAUTY MOGUL

Widely regarded as one of the most influential makeup artists of all time, Pat McGrath has revolutionized the beauty industry with her visionary artistry and boundary-pushing creativity, she is also deemed the most influential makeup artist in the world by Vogue magazine. As the founder of Pat McGrath Labs, she has created a cosmetics empire that celebrates diversity and empowers individuals to express themselves through makeup.

Social media has been a hotbed of speculation about how Pat McGath created the waxen shiny skin on models for the Maison Margiela couture show. (Photo Credit: Pat McGrath Labs)

In the world of haute couture, innovation and artistry reign supreme. Pat McGrath’s collaboration with Maison Margiela for their Spring-Summer 2024 show exemplified the pinnacle of creativity. With her masterful use of color, texture, and technique, McGrath transformed the faces of the models into living works of art, each one a testament to the beauty of individuality and self-expression. “The legendary creative transformed models into living dolls, complete with porcelain skin, pencil-thin eyebrows and strikingly shaded eyes, lips and cheeks. But it was the waxen, glazed complexions she created that really stole the show, spawning countless pieces of magazine analysis and TikTok tutorials, some of which have already amassed millions of views”, according to CNN.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us honor the contributions of these trailblazing designers and visionaries who continue to shape the future of fashion. Their creativity, innovation, and unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come, reminding us of the transformative power of art and the enduring legacy of African American excellence.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Let us celebrate the metamorphosis of Black creativity, embracing the myriad hues of expression that adorn our world, enriching it with depth, vibrancy, and soul.

So, tell us, how are you supporting the 15% Pledge?

A FEAST FOR THE SENSES: THE THRILL OF EXPLORING FASHION EXHIBITS

Looks from The Met’s Women Dressing Women Exhibit. (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

In a world that’s constantly on the move, where trends come and go in the blink of an eye, there’s something undeniably magical about stepping into a fashion exhibit. It’s not just about admiring exquisite garments or marveling at the ingenuity of designers – it’s an immersive journey into the heart of creativity, a celebration of beauty, history, and culture.

In this week’s UOF blog, we are highlighting a few fashion exhibits that are currently on display and where you will find tons of great inspiration.

EXPLORING THE ESSENCE OF STYLE IN THE CITY BY THE BAY

Rodarte’s gold evening dress from the Spring 2011 Collection. (Photo Credit; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco0

San Francisco, the city that birthed the Beat Generation, fostered the Summer of Love, and continues to be a hotbed of creativity and innovation, has always been a bastion of style. Now, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) celebrates this rich sartorial heritage with its latest exhibit, “Fashioning San Francisco: Celebrating the Style of a City” the exhibit is now open and will run through August 11, 2024.

This immersive exhibition is a love letter to the unique fashion sense that has defined the City by the Bay for generations. Curated from one of America’s largest collections of fashion, the exhibit presents a carefully curated selection of garments and accessories that collectively tell the story of San Francisco’s evolving style identity.

As visitors step into the exhibit, they are transported through time, beginning with the Gold Rush era when San Francisco was a bustling frontier town. Here, they encounter opulent Victorian dresses adorned with lace and intricate beadwork, reminiscent of the city’s affluent elite who sought to flaunt their newfound wealth.

Moving forward in time, the exhibit captures the bohemian spirit of the 1960s, a period that forever altered the city’s cultural landscape. Vibrant tie-dye shirts, bell-bottom jeans, and psychedelic prints evoke memories of the Summer of Love, when Haight-Ashbury became ground zero for the counterculture movement.

But “Fashioning San Francisco” is not merely a nostalgic journey through the past; it also highlights the city’s ongoing influence on contemporary fashion. A section dedicated to the tech boom of the late 20th and early 21st centuries showcase sleek, minimalist designs favored by Silicon Valley’s elite. Visitors marvel at innovative garments crafted from cutting-edge materials, reflective of San Francisco’s position at the forefront of technological innovation.

What sets this exhibit apart is its immersive approach to storytelling. Visitors are not passive observers but active participants in the narrative. Interactive displays invite them to try on replica garments from different eras, allowing them to experience firsthand the evolution of San Francisco style. Additionally, multimedia installations featuring archival footage and interviews with fashion designers offer deeper insights into the city’s fashion landscape.

Fashioning San Francisco” not only celebrates the past, but also serves as a reminder of the city’s enduring spirit of creativity, individuality, and innovation. In a world where trends come and go, San Francisco’s style remains timeless.

EXPLORING THE VIBRANT WORLD OF PACITA ABAD

Pacita Abad with her trapunto painting Ati-Atihan, 1983, wearing garments and jewelry collected on her travels. (Photo Credit: Pacita Abad Art Estate)

Sadly the exhibit ended on Jan. 28th, but the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) featured the kaleidoscopic universe of Pacita Abad. The exhibit offered a vibrant tribute to one of the Philippines’ most celebrated artist, whose work transcends boundaries of culture, geography, and medium.

Walking through the doors of SFMOMA, visitors were greeted by a riot of color that spills across the gallery walls. This is the world of Pacita Abad – a world where every stroke of the brush, every splash of pigment, tells a story of joy, resilience, and the unbreakable human spirit.

Curated with a keen eye for detail, the exhibit traces Abad’s artistic journey from her early explorations of social realism to her later experiments with abstract expressionism. Here, visitors are treated to a visual feast of paintings, textiles, and mixed-media installations that showcase Abad’s boundless creativity and relentless pursuit of beauty in all its forms.

One of the exhibit’s most striking features is its emphasis on Abad’s use of everyday materials to create art. From traditional canvas and paint to repurposed fabrics, found objects, and even whole cars, Abad’s work defies convention and challenges viewers to reconsider their preconceptions of what constitutes art.

But perhaps what sets Abad apart is her unwavering commitment to social justice and human rights. Throughout her career, Abad used her art as a platform to raise awareness of issues such as poverty, environmental degradation, and political oppression. Her iconic “Trapunto” series, which features large-scale textile paintings adorned with stitched motifs and embellishments, served as a poignant reminder of the struggles faced by marginalized communities around the world.

As visitors delved deeper into the exhibit, they were struck by the sheer diversity of Abad’s oeuvre. From her colorful “Sail” series, inspired by her travels to remote corners of the globe, to her haunting “Portraits of Exile” series, which captured the faces of refugees fleeing war and persecution, Abad’s work transcends the boundaries of culture and language to speak to the universal human experience.

Interactive displays invited visitors to engage with Abad’s work on a deeper level, prompting them to reflect on their own experiences of migration, displacement, and belonging. From interactive storytelling sessions to hands-on art workshops, the exhibit offers something for everyone, regardless of age, background, or artistic ability.

In a world that often seems bleak and divided, the art of Pacita Abad offered a ray of hope – a reminder that beauty can be found in the most unexpected places, and that art has the power to heal, inspire, and unite us all.

UNSUNG WOMEN: THE MET CELEBRATES WOMEN DRESSING WOMEN

Looks from The Met’s Women Dressing Women Exhibit. (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

In the heart of Manhattan, where the pulse of fashion beats strongest, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) unveils its latest exhibit, “Women Dressing Women” which will run until March 10, 2024. It’s a celebration of femininity, creativity, and the transformative power of fashion. Stepping into the hallowed halls of the MET, visitors are transported into a world where women are not just the wearers of fashion but also its creators, visionaries, and muses.

Curated with meticulous care, “Women Dressing Women” showcases the work of female designers who have shaped the landscape of fashion throughout history. From Coco Chanel’s revolutionary designs that liberated women from the confines of corsets, to the boundary-pushing creations of contemporary designers like Rei Kawakubo and Phoebe Philo, the exhibit offers a panoramic view of women’s influence on style.

Women Dressing Women” is not just a retrospective; it’s a celebration of diversity, inclusivity, and empowerment. Throughout the exhibit, visitors are introduced to designers from diverse backgrounds and cultures whose work challenges traditional notions of beauty and femininity. The exhibit will include iconic pieces established designers, including looks by Sarah Burton, Gabrielle Chanel, Ann Demeulemeester, Elizabeth Hawes, and Jeanne Lanvin. Pieces representing designers who have maintained a significant presence in The Costume Institute’s collection and exhibition history—such as Germaine Émilie Krebs, who created under the names Alix and Mme. Grès; Miuccia Prada; and Elsa Schiaparelli—are also featured.

Contemporary designers are also included, such as Hillary Taymour for Collina Strada, Anifa Mveumba for Hanifa, Iris Van Herpen, Norma Kamali, Ester Manas, Jamie Okuma, Simone Rocha, Marine Serre, Yeohlee Teng, and Isabel Toledo, among others, illustrate the creative and conceptual possibilities of contemporary design, highlighting inclusive definitions of womanhood, collaborative practices, a sustainable mindset, and the plurality that has come to define the spirit of fashion today, according to the Met’s press release on the exhibit.

Interactive displays invite visitors to participate in the conversation, prompting them to reflect on their own relationship with fashion and identity. From discussions about body positivity to explorations of cultural appropriation in fashion, the exhibit encourages visitors to think critically about the ways in which fashion shapes our perceptions of ourselves and others.

Here, women are not passive objects of desire, but active agents of change, using fashion as a tool for self-expression, empowerment, and social transformation.

BLOSSOMING ELEGANCE: THE ORCHID SHOW AT THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN

The Orchid Show Florals in Fashion. (Photo Credit: New York Botanical Garden)

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle that is New York City, there exists an oasis of tranquility and beauty – The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Every year, this verdant sanctuary plays host to The Orchid Show, a dazzling celebration of one of nature’s most exquisite creations. But in 2024, the show takes on a new dimension with the introduction of the “Florals in Fashion” installation, inviting visitors to explore the intersection of nature and haute couture. This year the exhibit will run from Feb. 17 to April 21st.

Visitors are transported into a world of unparalleled beauty and elegance. The air is filled with the intoxicating scent of orchids in full bloom, their delicate petals unfurling in a riot of colors – from vibrant purples and pinks to soft pastels and pristine whites. Against this backdrop of natural splendor, mannequins adorned with exquisite floral-inspired garments stand as silent sentinels, their ethereal beauty capturing the essence of the Orchid Show’s theme.

Curated in collaboration with leading fashion designers and floral artists, the “Florals in Fashion” installation showcases the creative ways in which orchids have inspired fashion. The installation features works from Collina Strada by Hillary Taymour, Dauphinette by Olivia Cheng, and FLWR PSTL by Kristen Alpaugh, fashionistas sure to create dramatic, picture-perfect floral displays at the Garden that always capture the orchid’s good side.

But “Florals in Fashion” is not just a celebration of beauty; it’s also a reminder of the importance of conservation and sustainability. Throughout the exhibit, interactive displays educate visitors about the fragile ecosystem that orchids inhabit, and the efforts being made to protect these delicate flowers from extinction. From initiatives to combat deforestation and habitat destruction to programs aimed at curbing the illegal trade of rare and endangered orchid species, the exhibit encourages visitors to reflect on their role in preserving the natural world for future generations.

So, tell us, which fashion exhibit are you most excited to see?

Haute Couture Renaissance: Spring 2024 Collections

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Chanel’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: Su Shan Leong)

In a world marked by fast fashion and fleeting trends, the magnificent realm of haute couture stands as a beacon of unwavering elegance and artisanal excellence. The term “haute couture” itself invokes images of meticulous craftsmanship, exquisite fabrics, and runway shows that transcend mere fashion, evolving into wearable art. As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of style, one cannot help but ponder the relevance of haute couture today and acknowledge its enduring mark on the fashion industry.

Looks from Valentino’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: The Impression)

The  words “haute couture” translates to “high sewing” in French, and this meticulous craftsmanship is at the heart of what makes it so unique and relevant. Unlike ready-to-wear collections that cater to mass markets, haute couture is a celebration of bespoke tailoring, where garments are meticulously crafted by skilled artisans to fit the individual client’s body like a second skin. This dedication to perfection ensures that each piece is not merely clothing but a work of art, an embodiment of the designer’s vision, and a testament to the client’s personality.

One might argue that haute couture is an anachronism in our fast-paced, digitally driven world, but it is precisely this anachronism that makes it so significant. In an era dominated by immediacy, haute couture is a reminder that true artistry takes time. The months spent handcrafting a single gown, the attention to every minute detail, and the emphasis on quality over quantity are a stark departure from the disposable nature of contemporary fashion. Haute couture embodies a philosophy of mindful consumption and an appreciation for the art of slow fashion.

Looks from Fendi’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: CNN)

Beyond its intrinsic value, haute couture serves as the laboratory of innovation for the fashion industry. Designers who partake in this rarefied world push the boundaries of creativity, experimenting with avant-garde techniques, materials, and designs that often find their way into more accessible fashion later on. The runway shows become a visual symphony, where designers collaborate with skilled artisans, photographers, and makeup artists to create a mesmerizing experience that transcends the mere display of garments and produce some of THE most amazing social media images. Many of these posts are suitable for framing.

Looks from Robert Wun’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: People)

The allure of haute couture extends beyond its aesthetic splendor. It is a powerful storyteller, reflecting the spirit of its time. Designers often draw inspiration from cultural, historical, or social influences, using their collections to make powerful statements or challenge conventional norms. Haute couture is a canvas for self-expression, allowing designers to weave narratives that resonate with the collective consciousness.

Furthermore, haute couture plays a pivotal role in sustaining traditional craftsmanship. In an era where technology threatens to replace skilled artisans with machines, haute couture remains a sanctuary for the preservation of age-old techniques. The ateliers are a haven for master embroiderers, seamstresses, and tailors whose expertise has been honed through generations. By investing in these crafts, haute couture ensures the survival of skills that might otherwise be lost in the relentless march of progress.

Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are seen arriving at the Maison Margiela Fashion show. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

And while Haute couture was filled with celebrity sightings such as Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, the Kardashian and Jenner clan, Rihanna, and Natalie Portman to name a few, the stars did not outshine the triumphant return of Haute Couture at its best.

Looks from Christian Dior’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: LVMH)

Of course, there were plenty of beautifully crafted pieces such as airy chiffon and tweed at Chanel, and Dior’s quiet luxury extravaganza. But there were a few shows that really broke the mold and pushed boundaries, that we are highlighting below:

MAISON MARGIELA

Video of Maison Margiela Haute Couture Spring Summer 2024 Collection. Video Courtesy of YouTube FF Channel.

John Galliano is a master at storytelling and for his Maison Margiela Couture Spring 2024 collection, the maestro turned out one of the most celebrated and emotional couture collections for the luxury fashion house to date. The show had it all, theatrical, rebellious, and oh so sexy. According to the house notes —it started with Brassai’s 1920s and ’30s portraits of the night-time underbelly of Paris’s clubs and streets.

This dark yet sexy inspiration turned into a dramatic work of art in Galliano’s hand. The extremely creative designer created a collection filled with extreme corsetry, padded hips, and erotically sheer lace dresses, paired with wildly imaginative hair, chiffon-masked makeup, and eerie doll-like body-modifications. “Galliano also created some scandalous hourglass dresses there was pubic hair to be seen through tulle and lace (they were merkins on underwear, but still bound to stir up a storm)” according to Vogue.

This certainly will be one show that will be praised for years to come as one of Galliano’s best and most theatrical for the House of Mason Margiela. And after years of Quiet Luxury fashion, we are all ready for dramatic fashion again.

SCHIAPARELLI

Video of Schiaparelli Haute Couture Spring Summer 2024 Collection.  Video Courtesy of YouTube FF Channel.

In a galaxy far, far away….. Daniel Roseberry had ignited the Schiaparelli house into one of the most sought out brands in only a few short seasons, and for his Spring 2024 Couture Collection, he did not disappoint his A-List fans. His Sci-Fi meets Western-inspired collection came complete with a robot baby and all.

Roseberry looked to both the future and the past for inspiration. The creative director for Schiaparelli melded retro technology, classic sci-fi movies and a nod to his Texan childhood. He created an exquisite exoskeleton dresses and an entire 3D spine inspired by both Elsa Schiaparelli’s radical 1938 skeleton dress and Giger aliens from the Alien movie series. “Dressage braids” inspired the knots on a cream leather suit that nearly looked like it could have been a space uniform from NASA and let’s not forget the nestling robot baby on a model’s hip – she was wearing a white singlet and conceptual couture cargo pants—Roseberry’s tribute to Sigourney Weaver as Ripley. “I’ve watched the Alien series, like, six times,” he said in a backstage interview with Vogue.

As for Roseberry Texas roots, there were silver-tipped Western belt buckles which formed a corset, an intricate embroidered jacket with fringe detail, and let’s not forget the horse-tail gown that Zendaya rocked at the show.

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

Video of Gaultier by Simone Rocha Haute Couture Spring Summer 2024 Collection. Video Courtesy of YouTube FF Channel.

All eyes are on the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier as the illustrious designer, Simone Rocha takes the helm for the Haute Couture Spring 2024 show, a mesmerizing fusion of two visionary forces.

Simone Rocha, renowned for her poetic designs that seamlessly blend tradition and modernity, steps into the spotlight, bringing her signature ethereal touch to the hallowed halls of Gaultier.

The show opens with a flourish of cascading ruffles, paying homage to Gaultier’s bold and irreverent spirit. The juxtaposition of Rocha’s signature pearl embellishments against Gaultier’s iconic Breton stripes creates a visual symphony that resonates with both innovation and tradition. As each model glides down the runway, the fusion of these two design philosophies becomes a harmonious celebration of fashion’s ever-evolving tapestry.

The collection was filled with Gaultier-inspired pink cross-laced satin corsetry, and paid tribute to the house classics, turning his Breton stripes into a t-shirt made entirely of ribbons and bows.

Rocha also created exquisite haute couture ballgown—romantic-ballerina shapes made from layers and layers of tulle. It was a magnificent show that won the audience over—and according to Vogue, Rocha received a giant hug from Monsieur Gaultier himself.

So, tell us, what was your favorite haute couture show this season?

THE POWER OF THE COLOR

The REDress Project installation. (Photo Credit: ABC News)

Color has long been used to signify social and political status and to convey other critical messages without saying a word. During the Byzantine era, only royals could wear the color purple, which represented rarity, piety, magic, and mystery. In the Middle Ages, red symbolized the blood of Christ and was worn by kings to signify their God-given right to rule. According to Hannah Craggs, senior color editor at trend-forecasting consultancy WGSN, “Throughout history, color has been used as a tool of self-expression and peaceful protest.”

 

demonstrators wearing pink pussyhats

Women wearing pink pussyhats as part of the 2017 anti-Trump Women’s March movement. (Photo credit: Wire)

In present day terms, we only need to look at the first Women’s March in January 2017, whereby millions of women and their allies banded together globally wearing pink pussyhats as a visible symbol of protest to the Trump presidency. At the 75th Golden Globe Awards in 2018, the color black was strategically worn by female actors to support the #TimesUp movement. In 2019, women politicians wore white to the State of the Union as a way to honor suffragists, while also making a pointed statement about the landmark number of women elected to the US Congress. And today, the color purple, used by Alice Walker and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in their novels, The Color Purple and Purple Hibiscus, is used to signify and signal a new awakening and rebirth of their characters.

In last week’s UoF blog entitled Threads of Unity, we discussed Kirstie Macleod’s Red Dress Project, a red dress that took 14 years to complete and was stitched together by the hands of 380 embroidery artisans, across 51 countries.

Today, we will focus on the REDress Project, National Ribbon Skirt Day and the Red Ribbon Skirt Project, projects that draw attention to the missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) epidemic in the United States and Canada.

The REDress Project

Video of The REDress Project at the National Museum of the American Indian. (Video Credit: YouTube, Smithsonian NMAI)

Picture a landscape adorned with red dresses hanging from trees, billowing in the wind like ghostly echoes of untold stories. The REDress Project, conceived by artist Jaime Black, is a public art installation that began in 2010, and that breathes life into a poignant symbol aimed at raising awareness about the staggering number of missing and murdered Indigenous women(MMIW) across North America.

The REDress Project installation at the University of Winnipeg. (Photo Credit: National Museum of the American Indian)

Each red dress, carefully selected or donated, represents a life lost or a woman still missing. The installation art project serves as a visual reminder, challenging communities to confront the harsh realities faced by Indigenous women. The choice of the color red is deliberate – the artist chose the color after conversations with an indigenous friend, who told her that red is the only color the spirits can see. “So (red) is really a calling back of the spirits of these women and allowing them a chance to be among us and have their voices heard through their family members and community”, Jaime Black told CTV news. The artist has also suggested “red symbolizes both vitality and violence” according to The Washington Post.

As these empty dresses sway in the wind, they carry with them the weight of countless narratives, invoking a call to action for justice and systemic change. The REDress Project transcends its artistic origins, becoming a powerful voice for Indigenous communities advocating for the safety and well-being of their women.

The REDress Project installation at the Seaforth Peace Park, Vancouver, Canada. (Photo Credit: Wipkipedia)

The project has inspired other artists to use red to draw attention to the issue of MMIW, and prompted the creation of Red Dress Day, which occurs on May 5th. The first Red Dress Day was observed in 2010 and is a day to honor and bring awareness to the thousands of Indigenous women and girls, who have gone missing or who have been murdered.

National Ribbon Skirt Day

Isabella Kulak was the center around the National Ribbon Skirt Day Movement. (Photo Credit: CBC News)

Amidst the sobering echoes of the REDress Project, a day of celebration and cultural pride emerged – National Ribbon Skirt Day. This event is observed on January 4th and was first celebrated in 2023. The day was inspired by Isabella Kulak, an Indigenous girl in Saskatchewan who was humiliated for wearing a traditional ribbon skirt to a formal dress day at her elementary school in 2020.

The ribbon skirt, a traditional garment worn by Indigenous women, serves as a testament to the strength and spirit of Indigenous cultures. It embodies a connection to heritage, land, and community. Red Ribbon Skirt Day invites individuals to don this symbolic garment, fostering a sense of unity and pride within Indigenous communities.

The Red Ribbon Skirt Project

The Red Ribbon Skirt Project aims to help grieving Indigenous families heal. (Photo Credit: APTN News)

Complementing National Ribbon Skirt Day is the Red Ribbon Skirt Project, a grassroots movement that empowers Indigenous women through art and storytelling. This initiative encourages women to create and share their own red ribbon skirts, each adorned with personal symbols and stories that reflect their unique journeys.

The Red Ribbon Skirt Project transforms the red ribbon skirt into a canvas of empowerment, giving a voice to those who have been silenced for too long. Through the creation of these symbolic garments, women reclaim their narratives and celebrate the strength inherent in their identity.

According to the Museum on Vancouver, “ribbon skirts and dresses have been worn by Indigenous women in Canada since the early 1800s. Large amounts of ribbon were imported by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 19th Century for the Indigenous wives of fur traders and their children. The clothing made with ribbon has become an important part of Indigenous culture. Ribbon dresses continue to represent the wearer’s identity and are viewed as symbols of resilience.”

Jamie Smallboy cuts fabric to make a red ribbon skirt at Strathcona Community Centre in Vancouver. (Photo Credit: APTN News)

Jamie Smallboy/Nohtikwew pisim is Plains Cree but lives in Vancouver. In 2019, she began the Red Sisters Gathering, a group that sews red ribbon skirts for the families of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls—and the skirts were worn at the Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver on Feb. 14, 2022. In 2021, Smallboy also founded the non-profit society Sweetgrass Sisters Healing, which now administers the Red Ribbon Skirt Project.  Below is a video to learn more about the movement.

Video of the Red Ribbon Skirt Project. (Video Courtesy of YouTube, Museum of Vancouver)

In a world where the echoes of the REDress Project linger, and the National Ribbon Skirt Day and Red Ribbon Skirt Project flourish, the power of red becomes a unifying force. It is a hue that transcends sorrow while embodying the resilience, pride, and strength of Indigenous communities. Through art, color, activism, and cultural celebration, these projects invite us to listen, learn, and stand in solidarity with those who have long been marginalized.

To learn more about color, color theory and color relationships, view these lessons: on the UoF website:

Color Relationships                                                                         Color Theory-The Basics

poster frame images of color lesson on UoF website

So, tell us, how has color inspired your work?

THREADS OF UNITY: THE RED DRESS PROJECT

- - Women in Fashion

Somerset artist Kirstie Macleod and the amazing red dress changing women’s lives all over the world. (Photo Credit: Somerset Live)

In the heart of British artistry, where creativity knows no bounds, a compelling project has been quietly unfolding over the past fourteen years (from 2009-2023). The Red Dress Project, conceived by the visionary artist Kirstie Macleod, stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, community, and the enduring spirit of femininity. An ambitious effort that began with a single red dress, this artistic journey has grown into a mesmerizing tapestry of stories, stitched together by the hands of 380 embroidery artisans, across 51 countries.

It all began with a vintage red dress that sparked the flame of inspiration in Macleod’s mind. This dress, with its timeless elegance and echoes of bygone eras, became the muse for a project that would unfold over the next fourteen years. The artist envisioned a collaborative effort where women from diverse backgrounds would come together, each leaving their unique mark on the scarlet canvas. According to the dress’s website, RedDressEmbroidery.com, Macleod “provided an artistic platform for women around the world, many of whom are vulnerable and live in poverty, to tell their personal stories through embroidery.”

Women of various cultures working on The Red Dress Project. (Photo Credit: MyModernMet.Com)

What began as a solitary journey soon transformed into a vibrant community of women. The garment has been worked on by “367 women/girls, 11 men/boys and 2 non-binary artists from 51 countries”, according to RedDressEmbroidery.com. “All 141 commissioned embroiderers were paid for their work, and receive a portion of all ongoing exhibition fees, merchandise, and the opportunity to sell their work through the Red Dress Etsy shop. The rest of the embroidery was added by willing audiences at various exhibitions & events.” All these embroiderers were connected by a shared purpose: to weave their stories into the fabric of The Red Dress Project. Through the meticulous art of embroidery, each participant added a personal touch, a symbol of her individuality, struggles, triumphs, and dreams.

The red dress became a canvas for shared experiences, a space where women could express their resilience, celebrate their strengths, and acknowledge the beauty in their imperfections. As the dress evolved, so did the collective narrative, creating a rich tapestry of human connection that transcended time and space.

Woman working on The Red Dress Project. (Photo Credit: MyModernMet.Com)

Over the course of fourteen years, The Red Dress Project underwent a fascinating metamorphosis. The scarlet threads encapsulated stories of joy, pain, love, loss, and the myriad emotions that define the human experience. The dress became a living document, a tangible expression of the resilience of women across generations and continents.

From delicate floral patterns, symbolizing growth and renewal, to intricate knots representing life’s complexities, the dress transformed into a visual masterpiece that mirrored the diversity of the female experience. The artists, once strangers, became a sisterhood, bound by a shared commitment to celebrating the strength and beauty inherent in womanhood.

Lekazia Turner, embroiderer from Jamaica, 2022. (Photo Credit: RedDress Embroidery.com)

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, The Red Dress Project stands as a beacon of social impact. The collaborative effort empowered women to reclaim their narratives, fostering a sense of unity and solidarity that transcends cultural and societal boundaries. The project has become a symbol of empowerment, inspiring countless others to embrace their stories and find strength in vulnerability.

According to RedDressEmbroidery.com. “The Red Dress has been exhibited in various galleries and museums worldwide, including Gallery Maeght in Paris, Art Dubai, Museo Des Arte Popular in Mexico City, the National Library of Kosovo, National Waterfront Museum in Wales, Fashion and Textile Museum, London, an event at the Royal Academy in London, and the Premio Valcellina Textiles award in Maniago, Italy where it won first prize in 2015.”

The Red Dress’s 14-year creation journey around the world is just about completed, with the garment assembled in its final formation. RedDressEmbroidery.com states that the dress is  “covered in millions of stitches, the 6.8 kg. silk Red Dress is weighted as much by the individual stories and collective voices waiting to be heard as by the threads and beads that adorn it.”

A close up of the embroideries from The Red Dress Project. (Photo Credit: MyModernMet.Com)

Kirstie Macleod’s vision has given life to more than just a dress; it has birthed a movement—a movement that celebrates the diversity, strength, and beauty that resides within every woman. As The Red Dress Project takes its final bow, it leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and empower generations to come, reminding us that, like the threads that bind the dress, our stories are intricately connected, creating a tapestry of resilience that withstands the test of time.

Do you have any tories of how fashion and art unite people?

ANNE LOWE: CELEBRATING THE LEGACY OF AN AMERICAN COURTIER

In the hushed corridors of high fashion, Ann Lowe stands as a beacon of timeless elegance and innovation. Her creations, woven with meticulous craftsmanship and a touch of magic, have graced the shoulders of First Ladies and socialites alike. Now, a new exhibit at the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, which is located in Delaware, promises to unveil the secrets behind Lowe’s enduring influence on American couture.

The exhibit is titled “Ann Lowe: Threads of Elegance,” the exhibition transports visitors into the enchanting world of this unsung fashion genius. As the doors swing open, the ethereal presence of Lowe’s designs beckons from the pedestals, drawing admirers into a realm where every stitch tells a story.

Anne Lowe’s whimsical creations. (Photo Credit: Winterthur Museum)

Ann Lowe’s journey to becoming a couturier extraordinaire was marked by resilience and passion. Born in rural Clayton, Alabama in 1898, Lowe’s early fascination with fabrics and design was nurtured by her mother and grandmother, a former slave and skilled dressmaker. Lowe was only a teenager when she developed not only her expert technical skills, but also her distinctive style—feminine, graceful, and elegant. Her beautiful creations often incorporated her signature hand-made floral elements which society women adored.

Her remarkable career took her through the Jim Crow South, from Montgomery, Alabama, to Tampa, Florida, and in 1928 to New York City, the fashion capital of the United States. Although Lowe’s work made her an asset to wealthy society women around the country, as a young black woman she also experienced the chaotic hardships of the fashion business and segregated America in a period of dramatic change.

Lowe’s creations place her amongst America’s exceptional fashion designers, and her life illustrates a legacy of Black women’s knowledge and skills that began as enslaved labor. With the odds against woman of color at the time, Lowe fought hard and positioned herself as a creative designer, a fashion insider, and a vital contributor to American culture. This legacy of creativity and determination set the stage for Lowe’s rise in the fashion world.

The Winterthur exhibit expertly curates Lowe’s life’s work, showcasing her evolution from an apprentice to a trailblazer who challenged racial and gender barriers in the early 20th century. Each garment on display is a testament to Lowe’s ability to blend sophistication with simplicity, creating pieces that resonate with grace and charm.

Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress when she married John F. Kennedy in 1953. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

A highlight of the exhibit is Lowe’s groundbreaking creation for Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding in 1953. Despite the prevailing racial prejudices of the time, the First Lady’s iconic wedding dress was a testament to Lowe’s unparalleled talent. The Winterthur Museum has spared no expense in recreating the magic of that historic gown, allowing visitors to marvel at the intricate details that captivated the nation.

Jacqueline Kennedy in her Ann Lowe-designed wedding dress. (Photo Credit: Elle Magazine)

In 1964, The Saturday Evening Post referred to couturier Ann Lowe as “Society’s Best-Kept Secret.” Although Lowe had been creating couture-quality gowns for America’s most prominent debutantes, heiresses, actresses, and society brides—including Jacqueline Kennedy, Olivia de Havilland, and Marjorie Merriweather Post—for years, Lowe remained practically unknown to the public. The designer has been given far too little recognition for her influence on American fashion, but this exhibit will surely breath new life into Lowe’s whimsical creations.

Elizabeth Mance wears an Ann Lowe design in a wedding photograph circa 1968. Lowe can be seen behind the bride and her father being escorted into the church. (Photo Credit: Elle Magazine)

As you wander through the exhibit, it’s impossible to ignore the influence Ann Lowe had on shaping American fashion. Her designs were a symphony of elegance, transcending the trends of the moment and becoming timeless classics. From glamorous ball gowns to chic day dresses, each piece is a masterclass in the art of couture.

The Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library have gone above and beyond to create an immersive experience. The exhibit space is adorned with floral arrangements reminiscent of Lowe’s favorite blooms, creating an ambiance that mirrors the grace and beauty of her designs.

Ann Lowe, photographed for the December 1966 edition of Ebony magazine. (Photo Credit: Elle Magazine)

Beyond the couture, the exhibit delves into Lowe’s personal life, offering glimpses into the challenges she faced as a woman of color in a predominantly white, male industry. It’s a poignant reminder that her success was not only measured in the stitches and seams but also in the resilience that defined her journey.

Ann Lowe: Threads of Elegance” is not just an exhibition; it’s a celebration of an artist who broke barriers and left an indelible mark on American fashion. As you step into the Winterthur Museum, be prepared to be transported into the world of Ann Lowe—a world where elegance knows no bounds, and creativity is truly timeless.

Ann Lowe: American Couturier can be purchased at the Wintherur Store online. (Photo Credit: Wintherur Museum.)

If you cannot make it to the exhibit, you can purchase her book which features vivid new photographs of Lowe’s creations—including intricate details of her exquisite handwork and signature floral embellishments. The book also includes essays that explore the trials and achievements of Lowe’s life, contextualize her work, as well as profile Black designers whose work reflects her influence. There are also behind-the-scenes looks at the astonishing efforts to preserve Lowe’s gowns.

Lowe, photographed for the December 1966 edition of Ebony magazine. (Photo Credit: Elle Magazine)

So tell us, which historic designers have had the greatest influence on your designs?

THIS COULD GET UGLY:  THE HISTORY OF THE UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER

Friends wearing Christmas sweaters. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to express that festive cheer than by donning the most outrageous, garish, and downright ugly Christmas sweater you can find? The ugly Christmas sweater trend has become a beloved tradition, transforming from fashion faux pas to a global phenomenon that brings joy and laughter to holiday celebrations. Let’s unravel the colorful history of this quirky trend and explore its meteoric rise to popularity.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Early Christmas sweaters. :Photo Credit: Britain Does Vintage)

The ugly Christmas sweater began in the post-war era, where hand-knit woolens were cherished for their warmth, not their style. Families gathered around the fireplace, sipping cocoa, adorned in sweaters with quaint reindeer and modest snowflakes. Little did they know these simple garments would lay the foundation for a future fashion phenomenon.

As the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s unfolded, so did a shift in the perception of fashion. Bold patterns, psychedelic colors, and unconventional designs became the norm, and the Christmas sweater was not exempt from this vibrant revolution. Suddenly, Santa’s donned sunglasses, Christmas trees twinkled in psychedelic hues, and the humble sweater was no longer just a winter necessity but a canvas of holiday expression.

Matching mother and daughter candy cane sweaters from Leisure Arts, 1989. (Photo Credit: Smithsonian Magazine)

Enter the era of excess—the 1980s. As shoulder pads grew larger and hair higher, so did the embellishments on Christmas sweaters. Glitter, sequins and pom-poms adorned every imaginable surface. The once-modest snowman became bedazzled, and the simple snowflake transformed into a dazzling disco ball of knitwear. It was a time of unapologetic extravagance and the Christmas sweater was no exception.

Authors of “The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book”. (Photo Credit :Getty Images)

As the world entered a new millennium, a wave of nostalgia and irony swept through pop culture. Vintage finds and thrift store treasures became the epitome of coolness and the ugly Christmas sweater found itself thrust into the spotlight once again. Ugly sweater parties began to emerge, inviting revelers to celebrate the holiday season by embracing the kitsch of yesteryear.

UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATERS ON THE SILVER SCREEN

Colin Firth in Bridget Jones’s Diary film. (Photo Credit: Miramax)

The trend’s popularity soared to new heights when it made its way into the world of cinema. Films like Bridget Jones’s Diary, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and The Night Before featured characters sporting these festive eyesores, further solidifying the ugly Christmas sweater as a cultural phenomenon. Iconic moments on the big screen, coupled with social media’s ability to showcase these quirky fashion choices, catapulted the trend into the mainstream.

Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation film. (Photo Credit: Warner Brothers)

THE SOCIAL MEDIA AGE: UGLY IS THE NEW CHIC

Young woman taking a selfie in her Christmas sweater, (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

With the advent of social media, the ugly Christmas sweater tradition received a global platform. People shared their most outrageous finds and DIY creations, turning the act of finding or making the ugliest sweater into a sport. Instagram, Twitter (X) and Facebook became virtual runways for festive fashionistas showcasing their holiday knitwear masterpieces.

TRADITION MEETS TREND

Comedian Jimmy Fallon embraces the ugly Christmas sweater trend. (Photo Credit: CNN)

In the present day, the ugly Christmas sweater has solidified its place as a cherished holiday tradition. It’s no longer just about embracing the tackiness; it’s a cultural phenomenon that unites people in laughter and joy. Major retailers offer an array of intentionally garish sweaters, and the tradition has expanded to include festive 5K runs, charitable events, and even formal gatherings dedicated to the art of the ugly Christmas sweater.

A young couple with Christmas sweaters. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

As we navigate the wintry landscapes of the 21st century, let’s tip our festive hats to the ugly Christmas sweater—a humble garment that has withstood the test of time, transforming from knitted oddity to a cherished symbol of holiday cheer. So, this holiday season, let your fashion sense be as bright and bold as your Christmas sweater, and may your festivities be as vibrant as the knits that have woven their way into our hearts.

Holiday Wishes From UOF. (Graphic Credit: UOF)

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Give the Gift of UoF Books that Compliment our Videos

University of Fashion beginner book covers- draping, pattern making and sewing

University of Fashion’s step-by-step Beginner Techniques: Sewing, Draping and Pattern Making

Our 3- part book series is the perfect gift for anyone interested in learning how to become a fashion designer. Techniques for Beginners: Sewing, Techniques for Beginners: Draping and Techniques for Beginners: Pattern Making are all step-by-step, frame-by-frame, compliments to our video lessons. Each book contains additional industry tips & tricks and tons of historical information. Our inspirational fashion runway images reinforce techniques used in the industry and at the best fashion colleges.

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So, tell us, will you be creating your own ugly Christmas sweater this season?

Unleashing the Future: The Second AI Fashion Week

A look from Kübra Karasu’s AI Fashion Week 2. (Photo Credit: AI Fashion Week)

In a dazzling display of innovation and elegance, the second edition of AI Fashion Week took place from November 30 to December 1, 2023, captivating the world with a mesmerizing fusion of technology and fashion. As fashionistas and tech aficionados excitedly tuned in, the virtual runway showcased a symphony of artificial intelligence and creative genius that left viewers in awe.

The event marked a pivotal moment in the fashion industry’s evolution, proving that the intersection of artificial intelligence and fashion design is not only a trend, but a transformational force shaping the future of style. From virtual front rows to holographic models, AI Fashion Week 2 pushed the boundaries of imagination and reinvented the traditional runway experience. With AI Fashion Week, the exclusive world of attending fashion events and shows becomes accessible to everyone around the world. Click the link if you haven’t already read our coverage of AI Fashion Week 1 in June 2023, where we covered the artificial intelligence computer programs and prompts that generate images from natural text: Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. 

A good start in learning how to create AI-generated images is to get a solid digital design foundation. Learn and/or brush up on your digital skills with UoF’s  CAD Fashion Art lessons in Photoshop, Illustrator, CLO 3D and 3D Browzwear software.

A look from Marloes Ratten’s AI Fashion Week 2. (Photo Credit: AI Fashion Week)

One of the highlights of the event was the collaboration between renowned fashion designers and cutting-edge AI algorithms. Designers partnered with AI systems to co-create unique pieces that seamlessly blended the human touch with the precision of machine learning. The result? A stunning collection that challenged preconceived notions of fashion, with garments that seemed to go beyond the limits of creativity.

AI-generated fabrics took center stage, showcasing the versatility and innovation that machine learning brings to the fashion palette. From color-changing textiles to materials that responded to environmental stimuli, the fabrics of the future were on full display. Designers embraced the challenge of incorporating these futuristic textiles into their collections, resulting in garments that not only looked stunning but also told a story of sustainability and technological progress.

A look from Annatarian’s AI Fashion Week 2. (Photo Credit: AI Fashion Week)

The virtual catwalk featured holographic models that brought a surreal and hypnotic quality to the showcase. These digital beings, crafted through advanced AI modeling, moved with grace and captivated the audience. Each model was a testament to the limitless possibilities when the worlds of fashion and artificial intelligence collide.

A look from Chie Kamijo’s AI Fashion Week 2. (Photo Credit: AI Fashion Week)

The fusion of fashion and technology extended beyond the runway, as AI-powered virtual stylists and fashion assistants took center stage. Attendees could interact with virtual assistants that provided personalized style recommendations based on individual preferences and body types. This immersive experience allowed fashion enthusiasts to explore and experiment with styles in a virtual space, revolutionizing the way we approach personal style.

A look from Catalina Arango’s AI Fashion Week 2. (Photo Credit: AI Fashion Week)

REVOLVE BRINGS AI GENERATED CLOTHES TO LIFE

The debut collection from Ope featured extravagant ruffling and body-conscious sequined pieces. (Photo Credit: Revolve)

Last season, fashion online retailer Revolve and Maison Meta, an AI-centric creative agency, teamed up for the first AI Fashion Week.  Revolve promised to create the collections from the top three collections submitted to a design competition that ran during the fashion week’s events into physical products — and sell them in their online boutique. All the looks were designed with generative artificial intelligence and manufactured by Revolve.

The first-place winner was an architect with no fashion background, José Sabral, who calls his new brand Paatiff. The second-place winner was Matilde Mariano, whose brand is called Molnm, also with no fashion design experience. The third-place winner goes by the name Opé Stylestar — which is also the name of their brand, Opé, and was the only winner with a fashion background, having previously worked at Betsey Johnson before becoming a stylist.

A look from José Sabral’s collection which bridges the world of architecture, fashion design, and technology. (Photo Credit: Revolve)

According to Cyril Foiret, founder and creative director of Maison Meta, the goal is to allow the winners to set up brands they can run independently if they choose.

Why would Revolve manufacture and sell garments created by AI Fashion Week? According to a press release, Michael Mente, the company’s co-founder and co-chief executive, said “Technology is a big competitive edge for Revolve. Through AI, we’re able to explore new emerging designers, brands, and trends that we are known for delivering in unique ways.”

Fashion is rushing to discover ways generative-AI tools could be useful. Thanks to technology’s ability to immediately create high-quality imagery, fashion is one of the applications where it could have a great impact. Designers Collina Strada and Heliot Emil are already testing the tools.

For the second AI Fashion Week, Revolve will again produce physical garments from the winning collections of the design competition, though there will be five winners chosen rather than just three, according to Maison Meta.

INCLUSIVITY AND DIVERSITY

AI Fashion Week also addressed the industry’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Virtual models represented a spectrum of body types, ethnicities, and gender identities, challenging traditional norms and fostering a more inclusive vision of beauty. This commitment to diversity echoed throughout the designs, sending a powerful message that the future of fashion is one that embraces and celebrates individuality.

COULD AI FASHION WEEK BE THE FUTURE OF FASHION SHOWS

A look from Somm_bird’s AI Fashion Week 2. (Photo Credit: AI Fashion Week)

As the curtain closed on the second AI Fashion Week, the fashion world was left buzzing with excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead. The event showcased not only the technical prowess of artificial intelligence but also its ability to inspire, challenge, and redefine the very essence of fashion. The runway of the future is no longer confined to physical spaces; it is a dynamic and ever-evolving intersection of creativity and technology, where the possibilities are as limitless as the human imagination. AI Fashion Week has firmly established itself as a trailblazer, guiding the industry toward a future where innovation and style coexist in perfect harmony.

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So, tell us, do you think AI Fashion Week will replace IRL fashion shows?

CELEBRATING NATIONAL NATIVE HERITAGE MONTH

Looks from B. Yellowtail. (Photo Credit: American Craft Council)

As November unfurls its autumnal tapestry, we find ourselves immersed in the rich hues of National Native Heritage Month—a time to celebrate and honor the diverse cultures, histories, and contributions of Native American peoples. This month offers an opportunity not only to delve into the vibrant traditions of indigenous communities, but also to reflect on the complex relationship between fashion and cultural appropriation.

For decades, the fashion industry has drawn inspiration from indigenous designs, textiles, and embroideries. Renowned designers such as Ralph Lauren and Isabel Marant have woven the intricate threads of Native American aesthetics into their collections, creating garments that pay homage to the beauty of indigenous cultures. The allure of tribal patterns, beading techniques, and earthy color palettes has undeniably left an indelible mark on the world of haute couture.

Ralph Lauren built an empire on his vision of ‘Americana’. Not only have his  collections included the American flag, but throughout the years he has incorporated elements inspired by Native American dress. From Navajo prints to fringe details reminiscent of traditional Native attire, his collections have been a testament to the timeless beauty of indigenous craftsmanship. Similarly, Isabel Marant, a French fashion luminary, has skillfully blended bohemian chic with Native American influences, creating pieces that resonate with a global audience.

A Ralph Lauren Native American inspired look from 1981. Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren)

However, as the fashion industry navigates the complex waters of cultural sensitivity, a spotlight is being cast on the issue of cultural appropriation. What was once seen as homage, is now under scrutiny, prompting a shift in perspective. The borrowing of elements from Native American cultures has given rise to an “appropriation” uproar, challenging the industry to reassess its practices.

In recent years, discussions surrounding cultural appropriation have gained momentum, urging designers to reconsider their approach to incorporating indigenous motifs. The line between ‘appreciation’ and ‘appropriation’ has become increasingly blurred, prompting a call for greater respect and understanding. Native communities argue that using sacred symbols, traditional patterns, or religious attire without context or proper acknowledgment perpetuates harmful stereotypes and commodifies their heritage.

As fashion enthusiasts, it’s crucial to engage in conversations about cultural sensitivity and the impact of our clothing choices. Designers are now encouraged to collaborate with indigenous artists and craftspeople, ensuring that the cultural context is preserved and respected. The emphasis is shifting towards appreciation rather than appropriation, promoting a more inclusive and respectful approach to fashion that celebrates diversity without erasing the roots of inspiration.

National Native Heritage Month serves as a poignant reminder to celebrate and learn from indigenous cultures rather than commodify them. While fashion has been a powerful medium for cultural expression, the industry is evolving towards a more conscious and respectful future—one that honors the rich tapestry of traditions without unraveling the fabric of cultural identity. As we admire the beauty of Native American influences in fashion, let us do so with open hearts, listening to the voices of those whose heritage we celebrate and ensuring that our appreciation is a bridge rather than a barrier.

WEAVING TRADITIONS

Looks from EMME Studio. (Photo Credit: EMME Studios)

National Native Heritage Month is not just a time to admire the tapestry of indigenous cultures, but also an opportunity to celebrate the incredible talents of Native American fashion designers who are reshaping the landscape of fashion. Here are eight designers whose work not only captivates the runway but also pays homage to their rich heritage.

JENNIFER YOUNGER

Jewelry by Jennifer Younger. (Photo Credit: Jasper Soloff)

Jennifer Younger effortlessly fuses traditional Native aesthetics with contemporary silhouettes. Her designs, inspired by her Navajo heritage, are a testament to the enduring beauty of indigenous artistry.

JAMIE OKUMA

A look from Jamie Okuma. (Photo Credit: Jamie Okuma)

Jamie Okuma, a Luiseno and Shoshone-Bannock artist, brings beadwork to life in ways that defy expectations. Her intricate bead designs tell stories, capturing the essence of Native American narratives with each carefully chosen hue.

EMME STUDIO

Models display Korina Emmerich’s Drugstore Rodeo 2021 collection. (Photo Credit: Two Hawks Young)

Korina Emmerich, of the Puyallup Tribe, blends her Native roots with a modern edge in EMME Studio. Her pieces are a dynamic fusion of bold patterns and innovative designs that transcend cultural boundaries.

TANIA LARSSON

Jewelry by Tania Larsson. (Photo Credit: Jamie Stevenson Photography)

Hailing from the Gwich’in and Kaska Dena nations, Tania Larsson’s creations are a dance of color and texture. Her work reflects the vast beauty of the Canadian North, echoing the Northern Lights in every stitch.

B. YELLOWTAIL

A look from B. Yellowtail. (Photo Credit: B. Yellowtail)

Bethany Yellowtail, a member of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes, empowers through fashion. Her brand, B. Yellowtail, blends cultural motifs with elegant simplicity, creating clothing that embodies strength and grace.

EVAN DUCHARME

Looks from Evan Ducharme. (Photo Credit: Evan Ducharme)

Evan Ducharme, a designer of Metis heritage, weaves his cultural identity into every garment. His creations tell the story of the Metis people, combining historical reverence with a contemporary flair.

GINEW

Looks from Ginew. (Photo Credit: Ginew)

Dyani White Hawk, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, breathes life into denim through her brand Ginew. Her designs honor her Native roots with intricate details, showcasing the spirit of heritage in every stitch.

4KINSHIP

A look from 4Kninship. (Photo Credit: 4Kinship)

Amy Denet Deal, a Chickasaw designer, explores the intersection of elegance and tradition in 4Kinship. Her creations embody the spirit of Native American aesthetics, offering a harmonious blend of the past and present.

NAVIGATING THE THREADS OF CULTURAL SENSITIVITY

As we celebrate National Native Heritage Month, let us not only appreciate the breathtaking designs but also recognize the profound stories woven into each thread. These eight designers stand as living testaments to the resilience, creativity, and cultural pride of indigenous communities. In a world where fashion often transcends borders, their work serves as a powerful reminder that diversity is not just a trend but a celebration of the rich tapestry of human experience.

So, tell us, when designers are influenced by a culture that is not their own, do you believe it is cultural appropriation, or do you believe its an homage to?

Veteran’s Day: Saluting Style & Strength

- - Fashion History

A look from Sacai’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

As we celebrated Veterans Day on November 11th, we honor the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces. It’s a day to express gratitude, admiration, and respect for the sacrifices made by our veterans. But beyond parades and solemn ceremonies, it’s also a moment to celebrate the influence of military history on the world of fashion. We will explore how military-inspired fashion has made its mark on runways and especially acknowledge the remarkable women who played a crucial role during World War II – the era that ignited a fashion revolution.

COMMANDING STYLE

A look from The Attico’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Military-inspired fashion has a long history of making a bold statement on runways worldwide. Drawing from the uniform designs of various armed forces, designers have incorporated elements such as epaulettes, camouflage patterns, trench coats, and combat boots into their collections. These garments, often imbued with a sense of authority and structure, have been embraced by fashion enthusiasts seeking to make a powerful fashion statement.

During and after World War II, the military look permeated the fashion world. The iconic trench coat, originally designed for British soldiers, found its place in civilian wardrobes. The “bomber jacket” was adapted from aviation uniforms, becoming a symbol of cool rebellion and youthful style. Even the classic sailor stripe and sailor collar, inspired by naval uniforms, continue to be timeless fashion staples. Join us on a sartorial journey as we explore the chic, commanding and timeless world of military-inspired fashion.

THE TIMELESS TRENCH COAT

A look from Maison Margiela’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

The trench coat, born on the battlefields of World War I, has become a symbol of sophistication and versatility. Its distinctive double-breasted design, epaulettes, and weather-resistant fabric exude an air of authority and practicality. Whether cinched at the waist with a belt or left open for a relaxed look, the trench coat is a must-have for every fashion-forward fashionista.

MARCHING ORDERS

A look from Balenciaga’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Camouflage patterns, designed to help soldiers blend into their surroundings, have become a high-impact fashion statement. From cargo pants to jackets, the camo trend makes a bold and unapologetic impression. Celebrities, models, and street-style aficionados have all embraced this print, effortlessly fusing military precision with urban street style.

THE BOMBER

A look from Undercover’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Originally designed for aviators, the bomber jacket has transcended its utilitarian roots to become a symbol of rebellion and youth culture. Its ribbed cuffs, waist, and collar, give it an iconic silhouette that exudes a sense of edginess. Today, bomber jackets come in various materials and colors, making them a versatile addition to any wardrobe.

REGAL IN OFFICER’S ATTIRE

A look from Ralph Lauren’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Military-style blazers with gold buttons, brass details, and sharp tailoring, lend an air of formality and elegance. Inspired by officer’s uniforms, these garments exude authority and sophistication. Paired with jeans for a casual look or a sleek pencil skirt for a professional ensemble, military blazers are a timeless choice for those who ‘command’ attention.

A look from Balmain’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

TIME FOR COMBAT

Prada’s iconic combat boots. (Photo Credit: Prada)

Combat boots, initially crafted for soldiers to withstand the rigors of the battlefield, have become a staple in fashion. With their rugged, no-nonsense appearance, they effortlessly juxtapose with dresses, skirts, and denim, adding a dash of punk rock attitude to any outfit.

EARNING YOUR STRIPES

A look from Schiaparelli’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

The classic sailor stripe, inspired by naval uniforms, continues to be a timeless fashion staple. Breton stripes bring a nautical charm to any outfit and can be effortlessly incorporated into both casual and formal looks. Whether it’s a striped tee or a striped dress, this pattern always ‘anchors’ your style.

WOMAN OF VALOR

Women in the Army during WW2. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

On Veterans Day, we should also celebrate the unsung heroines who played pivotal roles during World War II, reshaping history and leaving an indelible mark. We’s like to honor those women of valor – the Rosie the Riveters, the Pin-up girls on the sides of warplanes, the nurses, the secretaries, and all the women who raised their children solo, while their men were off at war. We appreciate their wartime contributions through the ages and the heightened role they play in military service today.

ROSIE THE RIVETER

Rosie the Riveter Poster. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department Of Defense)

Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of female empowerment during World War II, became an icon of resilience and determination. With her rolled-up sleeves, red bandana, and a strong, confident demeanor, Rosie represented the countless women who stepped into factory roles to support the war effort. She inspired not only women in the workforce but also fashion trends with her practical yet stylish jumpsuit, the modern boiler suit, and the fashionable reimagining of the iconic polka-dotted bandana.

PIN-UP GIRLS

World War II,  U.S. Army Vintage Print Pin-up. (Photo Credit: Etsy)

In the midst of wartime uncertainty, pin-up girls adorned the sides of warplanes, bringing both beauty and morale to the frontlines. These alluring images, often featuring glamorous women in patriotic poses, became symbols of hope and inspiration for the troops. Today, the pin-up girl aesthetic continues to influence fashion, from high-waisted bikinis to retro-inspired dresses, capturing the playful and vintage appeal of that era.

ANGELS OF MERCY: NURSES

Navy nurses dressed in new uniforms, in the nurses quarters at Aiea Naval Hospital, Honolulu, Hawaii, early March 1945 after liberation. (Photo Credit: Navel History and Heritage Command)

The nurses of World War II, often referred to as “angels of mercy,” played a vital role in caring to the wounded soldiers. Their courage, compassion, and dedication continue to be an inspiration. While their uniforms were functional and practical, their commitment to duty remains unmatched. Today, their spirit lives on in the clean lines and crisp whites of medical-inspired fashion, reflecting an air of professionalism and compassion.

SECRETARIAL DUTY

Women’s Army Corps during WWII. (Photo Credit: Britannica)

The secretaries, typists, and administrative assistants of the wartime era were the backbone of military logistics. They were tasked with managing the ever-growing volumes of paperwork and correspondence. Their contributions paved the way for modern office attire, with pencil skirts, tailored blouses, and sleek accessories. These outfits exemplify the blend of professionalism and elegance that marked the wartime working woman.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE

The Women’s Army Corps (WAC)  in WWII. (Photo Credit: National Woman’s History Museum)

So, this Veterans Day, as we remember and honor those who served, let’s also celebrate the intersection of style and strength – a legacy that endures through military-inspired fashion. These designs connect us to the past and continue to inspire us in the present, reminding us of the remarkable women and men who shaped history during wartime.

So, tell us, are you a fan of military-inspired fashion?