University of Fashion Blog

Category "Fashion History"

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?

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?

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?

JUNETEENTH: Celebrating African American Quilters & Creatives

 

(Image Credit: Louisville Black Creatives – Facebook.com)

Juneteenth marks the day when General Gordon Granger of the Union Army strolled into Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, to announce that the last of the 250,000 remaining enslaved people in the Confederacy were freed from the shackles of slavery, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

To celebrate Juneteenth, this week’s blogpost is dedicated to African Americans artisans, both past and present, who use their creativity to tell stories through the art of quilting. We will also highlight African American quilters and artisans who, through textiles and handcraftsmanship, are modern-day griots, these creatives are continuing the tradition of African tribal storytelling to preserve the genealogies and oral traditions of their culture.

Fashion has always held an important role in the evolution of mankind, whether to express status or as a vehicle for social change. But the art and craft of fashion, specifically quilting, has held an even deeper meaning for the African American community and is as almost as old as the history of America.

One of the first enslaved African women to be officially recorded in the colony of Virginia in 1619 was Angela (likely born in present-day Angola). Angela is considered one the ‘First Africans” and like many Black women to follow, were charged with spinning, weaving, sewing, and quilting on plantations for their enslavers, while often weaving their own family’s clothing to keep warm and survive.

Over time, some African American household slaves became highly skilled in creating quilts and while very few examples of these early quilts survived due to the heavy wear they received, what was initially a tool of oppression became an expression of liberation.

Hidden in Plain View by Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD QUILT CODES

The Underground Railroad (UCRR) was a network of people and places that assisted southern slaves escape to free states in the North and Canada prior to the start of the Civil War in 1861. According to legend, a safe house along the UCRR was often indicated by a quilt hanging from a clothesline or windowsill. These quilts were embedded with a kind of code, so that by reading the shapes and motifs sewn into the design, an enslaved person on the run could know the area’s immediate dangers or even where to head next.

In the book entitled, Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, the authors reveal how enslaved men and women made encoded quilts and then used them to navigate their escape on the Underground Railroad. Quilts with patterns named “the Charleston Code,” “wagon wheel,” “tumbling blocks,” and “bear’s paw”, contained secret messages that helped direct slaves to freedom.

Example of a Charleston Code Quilt – helped navigate slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad

When slaves made their escape, they used their memory of the quilts as a mnemonic device to guide them safely along their journey. For example: a bow tie meant “dress in disguise to appear of a higher status; a bear paw was an instruction to “follow an animal trail through the mountains to find water and food; and a log cabin warned “seek shelter now, the people here are safe to speak with”.

Example of a Log Cabin quilt with an embedded code to help slaves to freedom.

At the end of the Civil War, African American women continued telling their stories through quilting, maintaining the long-standing cultural significance and its profound roots of ‘woven’ resistance. For more on the history of African American quilting as folk-art visit: http://www.womenfolk.com/quilting_history/afam.html

HARRIET POWERS

Quilter Harriet Powers

Harriet Powers 1837-1910 (Image credit: Museum of Fine Arts Boston)

Born into slavery in Athens, Georgia in 1837, Harriet Powers created quilts once she was emancipated. She used quilting as a catalyst for change and to inspire conversations about race. Her storytelling quilts made use of appliqué techniques and the textiles of Western Africa and are notable for her ability to transmit, through the fabric, her religious faith depicting biblical stories, local events, and celestial occurrences. Powers debuted her first exhibit in 1886 at the Cotton States and International Expo.

For much of the 20th century Powers was erased from the art historical canon, but today she is deservedly considered one of the most accomplished quilt makers of the 19th century.

Only two of Powers’ story quilts have survived: the Bible Quilt which hangs in the Smithsonian Institution and her Pictorial Quilt which is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Harriet Powers – Bible Quilt circa 1886 (Image credit: Smithsonian Institution)

Weaving scraps together became a metaphor for threads of resilience stitched together to preserve remnants of culture, faith, and hope in the African American community. Though often not attributed with bringing the tradition of quilting to the U.S., Black women are among the originators of today’s needle and thread technique.

From navigating the Underground Railroad to telling a family’s story, quilts are more than an heirloom to African American families—they are an act of woven resistance.

Close-up of African American ‘Pine Burr’ quilt circa 1920 found in Selma, Alabama. For sale on 1st Dibs $7,500

One of the most beautiful quilt patterns is the Pine Cone or Pine Burr, which is a three dimensional quilt made of overlapping triangles. These triangles are put in a circular pattern starting at the center, giving the look of a pinecone. The quilt pictured above was made by an African American of unknown provenance. It took weeks to make and was found in Selma, Alabama circa 1920. It is for sale on 1st Dibs for $7,500.

QUILTERS OF GEE’S BEND

Gee’s Bend Quilters Jennie Pettway and Jorena Pettway, 1937 (Photo credit: Arthur Rothstein).

Among the most important quilt contributions to the history of art were made by quilters in the isolated African American hamlet of Gee’s Bend, Alabama in the 1930s. Gee’s Bend quilters developed a distinctive style and are known for their lively improvisations and geometric simplicity.

In 2003, 50 quilt makers founded the Gee’s Bend Collective, which is owned and operated by the women of Gee’s Bend and their work has been exhibited in museums across the country, the most notable in 2004 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Gee’s Bend quilters working a quilt 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia.com)

In 2015, Gee’s Bend quilters Mary Lee Bendolph, Lucy Mingo, and Loretta Pettway were joint recipients of a National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

And in 2023, the Gee’s Bend quilters collaborated with generative artist Anna Lucia to create digital works of art on the blockchain in a project called Generations.

Quilt by Anna Lucia of Gees Bend Quilted physical NFT on a clothesline in Alabama 2023 (Image credit: rightclicksave.com)

 

FAITH RINGGOLD

Faith Ringgold in front of her quilt Tar Beach 1993

Faith Ringgold in front of her quilt Tar Beach 1993 (Image credit: Wikipedia.com)

Faith Ringgold is an artist, activist, quilter, educator and author of numerous award-winning children’s books. Tar Beach, her first children’s book, based on a quilt of the same title, has won over twenty awards including the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King award for the best-illustrated children’s book of 1991. Ringgold has made a career-spanning commitment to social justice and equity through a variety of media including oil paintings, tankas, soft sculptures, story quilts and prints. If you are in LA, be sure to catch her show at the Jeffrey Deitch Gallery from May 20-August 12.

 

BISA BUTLER

Artist/quilter Bisa Butler – Quilting for the Culture (Image credit & video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_P3_61nh3xo)

Bisa Butler has been called a modern-day Griot, but instead of using words to tell stories, she uses stitches and cloth. Her quilts have graced the covers of magazines, have been the subject of numerous exhibitions and she created the striking illustration for the book “Unbound,” the memoir of activist and Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke. Her show entitled “Bisa Butler: The World is Yours“, is currently showing in NYC from May 6 to June 30, 2023 at 18 Wooster Street. You will be dazzled! Here’s a link to the show info: https://deitch.com/new-york/exhibitions/bisa-butler-the-world-is-yours

 

Artist/Quilter Bisa Butler (Image credit: YouTube)

In my work, I am telling the story— this African American side— of the American life. History is the story of men and women, but the narrative is controlled by those who hold the pen. My community has been marginalized for hundreds of years. While we have been right beside our white counterparts experiencing and creating history, our contributions and perspectives have been ignored, unrecorded, and lost. It is only a few years ago that it was acknowledged that the White House was built by slaves. Right there in the seat of power of our country African Americans were creating and contributing while their names were lost to history. My subjects are African Americans from ordinary walks of life who may have sat for a formal family portrait or may have been documented by a passing photographer. Like the builders of the White House, they have no names or captions to tell us who they were.” ~ Bisa Butler

AFRICAN AMERICAN CRAFT INITIATIVE

The African American Craft Initiative – a division of the Smithsonian Artisan Initiative (Photo credit folklife.si.edu)

The African American Craft (AACI) Initiative works to expand the visibility of African American artisans and ensure equitable access to resources. Established through a consultative dialogue process with African American makers and organizations, and the mainstream craft sector in the United States, AACI outlines concrete actions for sustainable change.

Through collaborative research, documentation, and public programming, the initiative builds upon the relationship between craft and community by amplifying and supporting the efforts of African American makers to sustain their craft practice.

QUILTING & THE FASHION INDUSTRY

A$AP Rocky and Rihanna 2021 Met Gala

A$AP Rocky and Rihanna at the Met Gala 2021 (Image credit: GraziaMagazine.com)

Quilting continues to provoke conversations and contemplations around identity, heritage, and healing within the African American Community. African textiles are often central to quilters and fashion designers at large.

 

To learn more about African textiles check out these UoF lessons:

 

To learn more about quilting and various quilt patterns visit Quilt Index https://quiltindex.org

To find out where to purchase African fabrics visit: https://www.quiltafricafabrics.com/collections

Have you viewed our West African textiles lessons yet?

 

CELEBRATING KARL LAGERFELD: AS BOTH ILLUSTRATOR & DESIGNER

 

Karl Lagerfeld Sketches His Life video (Video Link:  You Tube)

In honor of the upcoming MET exhibit entitled “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,”  we would like to celebrate Lagerfeld’s work as an accomplished fashion illustrator, as well as a prolific fashion designer. It is a common myth that all fashion designers are able to conceptualize their fashion designs via fashion illustration. The truth is that very few designers know how to ‘illustrate‘. It is much more common for designers to execute a quick fashion ‘sketch‘ to get their design idea across.

Another misconception is that all fashion illustrators can ‘design’. Well, just because one can illustrate fashion doesn’t mean that they can also design fashion. In fact, it is quite rare when a fashion designer can do both. As many of our subscribers know, there are other skills including draping, pattern making and sewing that should be honed to become a successful designer.

Therefore, in lieu of the upcoming MET show, this week’s blog post will highlight Lagerfeld’s work as both a designer and illustrator. And, since we just celebrated World Creativity Day on April 20th, we will also be highlighting other famous designers/illustrators whose illustrations are fast becoming collector’s items, that are either sold at auction houses or on their websites for thousands of dollars.

KARL LAGERFELD: THE ILLUSTRATOR

The upcoming Lagerfeld MET exhibit, which runs from May 5 to July 16, is expected to draw fashion enthusiasts and industry insiders from around the world eager to experience the life and work of one of fashion’s most influential designers. It will feature Lagerfeld’s most iconic designs, including his re-imagined Chanel jackets, Fendi fur pieces and his signature accessories. The exhibit will also include a variety of personal items belonging to Lagerfeld, such as his sketchbooks, personal correspondence and photographs. This is definitely a designers’s dream show come true!

Karl Lagerfeld and his treasured cat Choupette in Paris 2018. (Photo Credit: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue)

Throughout his career, Lagerfeld created a wealth of fashion illustrations that captured the essence of his designs and his unique creative vision. His illustrations were often used to promote his collections and even today, they continue to inspire and captivate fashion enthusiasts.

In Lagerfeld’s early illustration work, you can see that he had a much tighter hand as shown in the images below that he did for the House of Tiziani before he joined Chanel in 1983.  His illustrations were characterized by their bold, graphic style and attention to detail. Over time however, Lagerfeld’s hand became looser and less rigid and therefore was able to capture the movement and flow of fabrics, often highly stylized, with exaggerated proportions and abstracted shapes. Despite their abstract nature, Lagerfeld’s illustrations always conveyed a sense of elegance and sophistication.

Four of the fashion illustrations by Karl Lagerfeld auctioned on April 18, 2019 (Image Credit wwd.com)

Whether Lagerfeld was illustrating a Chanel jacket or a Fendi gown, he always managed to convey the unique character and style of each piece. Used as promotional materials, Lagerfeld’s illustrations helped build anticipation and excitement for each of his upcoming shows.

Illustration of Chanel coat, fall 2017. (Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Lagerfeld’s work was also a reflection of his larger creative vision. He was known for his love of art, literature and culture, and his illustrations often incorporated elements from these fields. For example, he frequently incorporated references to classical art, such as Greek statues, Renaissance paintings or iconic monuments such as the Statue of Liberty. These references added an extra layer of depth and meaning to his work and helped to establish Lagerfeld as a true visionary in the fashion industry.

Lagerfeld’s illustration – Anna Piaggi for Liberty of Fashion, Barney’s New York
1986 (Image Credit: 1stDibs.com)

The work of some fashion designers and fashion illustrators are now highly collectable and are sold on websites like 1stDibs.com, iCanvas.com and Artsy.net or in auction houses around the world.

Lagerfeld illustration

A Karl Lagerfeld illustration circa 1960-1970: original yellow and white coat colored pencil fashion sketch – 10k Appraisal 
Includes a Certificate of Authenticity – sold for US$6,950 (Photo Credit: artsy.net)

In addition to illustrating his collections, Lagerfeld also created a number of illustrations for other purposes, such as books, magazines and even a calendar, showcasing his diverse talents and his ability to adapt his style to different contexts. Lagerfeld’s illustrations were always imbued with his signature style and creativity, making them instantly recognizable as his own.

A Chanel illustration for Lady Gaga created by Karl Lagerfeld. (Photo Credit: Facebook.com)

KARL LAGERFELD: THE DESIGNER

The MET’s Lagerfeld exhibit will consist of approximately 150 designs and according to the MET, it will “explore the artistic methodology and stylistic vocabulary of Karl Lagerfeld’s designs through recurring themes across more than 65 years, from the 1950s to his final collection in 2019”. The Costume Institute Benefit (also known as The Met Gala) will take place on Monday, May 1, 2023.

In addition to showcasing Lagerfeld’s designs, the exhibit will explore the designer’s life and legacy. Lagerfeld was known for his larger-than-life personality, his love of art and literature, and his tireless work ethic. The exhibit will delve into Lagerfeld’s background, including his early life in Germany and his rise to fame in the fashion industry. Visitors will gain insight into Lagerfeld’s creative process, his inspirations, and his collaborations with other artists and designers.

One of the most exciting aspects of the exhibit is the opportunity to see Lagerfeld’s designs up close and personal. Visitors will be able to study the intricate details and craftsmanship that went into creating each piece. From the impeccable tailoring of his jackets to the intricate embroidery on his gowns, Lagerfeld’s designs are a testament to his skill as a designer. Here’s a sample of what will be featured in the exhibition:

Wedding dress by Chanel Haute Couture from the Fall 2005 Collection. (Photo Credit: Julia Hetta. Courtesy of the MET)

A Fendi coat from the fall 2000 Collection. (Photo Credit: Julia Hetta for the MET)

The exhibit will also feature interactive elements, including virtual reality experiences and interactive displays. Visitors will be able to explore Lagerfeld’s designs in a variety of ways, from 3D projections to virtual runway shows. The exhibit will provide a truly immersive experience, giving visitors a chance to step into Lagerfeld’s world and see the fashion industry through his eyes.

KARL LAGERFELD’S INFLUENCE IS STILL FELT TODAY

A vintage photo of Karl Lagerfeld. (Photo Credit Getty Images)

Lagerfeld served as the creative director for Chanel for over three decades, before his passing on February 19, 2019.

Perhaps one of Lagerfeld’s greatest contributions to fashion was his ability to keep Chanel relevant. When he took over as creative director in 1983, the brand was struggling to remain fresh. However, Lagerfeld breathed new life into the heritage brand, infusing it with his own unique style and vision. He was unafraid to take risks and experiment with new ideas, while still remaining true to the brand’s classic aesthetic.

Lagerfeld’s re-invention of the Chanel jacket, which he introduced in the 1980s, was a modern update of the classic silhouette. The jacket became an instant classic and remains a staple of the Chanel collection, in various iterations, today. Although he is no longer with us, Lagerfeld’s influence on fashion will continue to be felt for years to come.

Some of Karl Lagerfeld’s best moments at Chanel. (Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar)

OTHER GREAT FASHION DESIGNERS/ILLUSTRATORS

Most designers working in the fashion industry today have little time to sit down and illustrate their ideas. Most execute quick, rough sketches that they hand off to their assistant or to their pattern maker. But there are fashion designers who prefer to  illustrate their creations and who possess a special talent that enables them to better communicate their vision in a unique and creative way. Most designers will hire a professional fashion illustrator to showcase their work for press purposes, for example, the illustration below is by fashion illustrator Janka Letková for Marc Jacobs. See the illustrator’s signature in small script along the vertical sash.

 

Janka Letková fashion illustration

Fashion illustrator Janka Letková for Marc Jacobs (Image Credit: iCanvas.com)

Other designers are more inclined to promote their work using their own unique style of illustration. Here a a few of the talented fashion designers who illustrate their own creations.

DIOR’S MARIA GRAZIA CHIURI

Maria Grazia Chiuri, the creative director for Dior, creates exquisite illustrations that are characterized by their romantic, ethereal quality. Her illustrations showcase the details and exquisite craftsmanship of her designs which adds an extra layer of depth and meaning to her work.

 

Maria Grazia Chiuri fashion illustration for Dior for Georgia tour

Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri fashion illustration for recording artist Georgia  for her 2019 tour (Image Credit: fashion press.it.com)

CHRISTIAN LACROIX

French fashion designer Christian Lacroix is also known for his illustration skills, which are characterized by their whimsical, and fantastical style. Lacroix’s illustrations often incorporate elements from art history, such as Rococo motifs and Baroque ornamentation. His illustrations showcase his unique creative vision and his ability to blend different styles and influences into his designs.

Fashion Illustrations by Christian Lacroix (Image Credit: Pinterest.com)

ALBER ELBAZ

Alber Elbaz, the former creative director of Lanvin who sadly passed away on April 24, 2021, was known for his playful and  cartoonish style. His illustrations often featured exaggerated proportions with bright, bold colors and were used to promote his collections. His illustrations were considered artwork in their own right.

A fashion illustration by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin (Image Credit: Pinterest.com) 

CHRISTIAN SIRANO

Christian Siriano is a designer who has built a successful career by creating clothing that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. He is also an accomplished illustrator whose illustrations are playful, yet with a sense of drama and impact. Siriano is one of the designers who sells his limited-edition illustrations, ranging from $75-$1,200, on his website ChristianSiriano.com.

Christian Siriano showing his limited edition fashion illustrations

Christian Siriano showing his limited edition fashion illustrations (Photo Credit: ChristianSiriano.com)

JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER

Jean-Paul Gaultier is a designer known for his daring, unconventional designs. He is also an accomplished illustrator. Gaultier’s illustrations often feature precise, graphic lines, like the one below that he did for Madonna’s MDNA 2012 tour.

fashion illustration by Jean Paul Gaultier 2012

Fashion illustration by Jean Paul Gaultier for Madonna’s MDNA Tour 2012

Looking for more info on fashion illustration as collectable items, view our blog from March 14, 21, entitled Looking For a Hot Investment Tip? Try Collectioning Fashion Illustrations.

With the advent of computer-assisted design, fashion illustration has become a luxury for most fashion designers these days. However, at UoF we still promote hand drawn fashion through our Fashion Art discipline consisting of 27 Beginner, 39 Intermediate and 17 Advanced lessons. We teach how to draw, render and illustrate fashion design and accessories and so it’s no wonder that we are head-over-heels excited to see the Lagerfeld show at the MET. Viva La Fashion Illustration!  Viva Lagerfeld!

SO TELL US, DO YOU KNOW OF OTHER FASHION DESIGNERS THAT CAN ILLUSTRATE?

 

 

 

 

 

CELEBRATING KWANZAA: FASHIONABLY

 

A lit kinara – celebrating each day of the 7 guiding principles during Kwanzaa Dec 26-January 1

 

KWANZAA –  is a weeklong celebration held in the United States that honors African heritage in African-American culture and is observed from December 26th to January 1st, culminating in gift giving and a big feast. We’d like to take this opportunity not only to celebrate it and discuss its history and its cultural significance, but also what to wear while celebrating the week long event. We’d also like to remind everyone that our once-yearly subscription discount expires on 1/1/23 and is a subscription to UoF is  great gift for yourself or for that fashionista in your life.

Get $40 off a yearly, was $189/now $149. Use discount code WIN1. Click on this link to sign-up https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/

Kwanzaa History 

The holiday is relatively new, compared to other holidays celebrated in the U.S. Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Africana Studies at California State University, first created Kwanzaa in 1966. He created this holiday in response to the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1965 as a way to bring African-Americans together as a community.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means first fruits, or harvest in Swahili. Celebrations often include singing and dancing, storytelling, poetry reading, African drumming, and of course, feasting.

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

Dr. Karenga created seven guiding principles to be discussed during the week of Kwanzaa. The seven principles represent seven values of African culture that help build and reinforce community among African-Americans. Each day a different principle is discussed, and each day a candle is lit on the kinara (candleholder). On the first night, the center black candle is lit, and the principle of umoja, or unity is discussed. On the final day of Kwanzaa, families enjoy an African feast, called karamu.

image od 7 Kwanzaa Principles

7 Kwanzaa Guiding Principles

 

What to Wear to Karamu

image of Tongoro's Spring 2022 Collection.

Looks from Tongoro’s Spring 2022 Collection. (Photo Credit: Tongoro)

 

Looks from Ahluwalia’s Spring 2022 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

 

image of Naomi Campbell at Kenneth Ike's fashion show 2019

Naomi Campbell walks Kenneth Ize’s fashion show at Arise Fashion Week in 2019. (Photo Credit: Kenneth Ize)

 

 

Have you Watched our African Textiles Series? 

In early 2022 we announced our new 5-part lecture series on West African textiles created by Mina Dia-Stevens. We are thrilled to announce the launch of part three,West African Textiles: Senegal-Manjak Cloth. Stay tuned in 2023 for parts 4 and 5: WestAfricanTextiles-Ivory Coast and WestAfricanTextiles-Ghana.


UoF lesson preview- West African Textiles: Senegal-Manjak Cloth

 


UoF lesson preview – West African Textiles: Bogolanfini of Mali

 


UoF lesson preview –  West African Textiles: Faso Dani Cloth of Burkina Faso

For more information on Africa’s burgeoning fashion industry, view our blog post OUT OF AFRICA: AFRICAN DESIGNERS ARE FINALLY ON THE FASHION MAP.

GOT THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT? LOOKING FOR THAT LAST MINUTE GIFT?

Five days until Christmas, the clock is ticking and suddenly you remember that you forgot someone on your Christmas gift list. OMG!

It’s too late now to order from Amazon, so what are you going to do? Solution…give a unique gift certificate to the world’s largest fashion education video library!

Our once-yearly sale expires 1/1/23 and so there’s still time to get in on our discount.

Get a yearly subscription for $40 off (was $189/now$149) or $5 off the first month of a monthly subscription (was $19.95/now$14.95). Click here to made it happen: https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/

If you are already a University of Fashion monthly subscriber or free member, just log in as usual and look on your left for one or more “Upgrade” offers equivalent to the above! Remember, all subscriptions gives unlimited access to every lesson on our entire website, that’s 500+ lessons!

 

WHY UNIVERSITY OF FASHION?

University of Fashion Home Page

University of Fashion has over 500 fashion education video tutorials, taught by fashion profs and industry pros, that both educate and entertain. We have 13 different disciplines to learn from: draping, pattern making, sewing, fashion art, CAD fashion art, CAD pattern making, menswear, knits, childrenswear, accessories, product development, and a fashion business section that encompasses retailing, merchandising, visual merchandising, branding & licensing,  as well as a lecture series that encompasses textiles, color theory, trend forecasting and lots more. Whether you’re interested in a fashion career, or perfecting your existing skills, or just ‘fashion curious’ – a gift certificate to UoF is THE most unique gift you can give.

Need some convincing? Read some of our testimonials:

“The University of Fashion Online is the most valuable tool that I found in relation to Fashion. It is a complement to my education. It is well structured and very complete. I am grateful to Francesa Sterlacci for having created it. I am also grateful to her Team for their contributions and great effort to put it all together. I love it! it is fascinating. I highly recommend it.” Espie Egger – UoF Subscriber – Switzerland

I was lagging behind in class and didn’t remember all the lessons my professor taught, so I went to the demos on University of Fashion for help. Thanks to the great demos I received a really good grade on the project! ” Chanica Pitaksakorn – Fashion Institute of Technology, Student

Everyone in the fashion industry, whether a student, a hobby aficionado or a professional should have a great resource for reference and support. University of Fashion provides the “how to” at every level for the first timers or just a refresher for the experts. A must have asset.”  Saul Kapilivsky Miami International University of Art & Design, Professor

“I have been teaching middle and high school for over 30 years and today I stand in awe of this amazing fashion tool. The University of Fashion video series is simply too good to be true. Every video is factual and correct. As I watch each video, I say; this is exactly how I teach this. The plus for me is that I do not need to do a demo over and over again before students get it. They can just watch these videos and also broaden their skills even beyond my knowledge. I am so grateful to be introduced to the University of Fashion.”  Callie Melton – Fashion Design Services Instructor/A.P.P.S Chair/FCCLA Advisor/Fort Lauderdale High School

 

DID YOU KNOW THAT WE ALSO HAVE COMPANION BOOKS AVAILABLE?

University of Fashion Book Series: Techniques for Beginners: Draping, Pattern Making & Sewing (Available everywhere)

Our book series was designed to complement our beginner draping, pattern making and sewing video lessons. Each book contains additional information to help with the learning process and they are another a great gift idea! Read some of our Amazon ratings:

DRAPING BOOK TESTIMONIALS 

 

draping book testimonial

draping book testimonialDRAPING BOOK TESTIMONIAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PATTERN MAKING BOOK TESTIMONIALS 

Patternmaking book testimonial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEWING BOOK TESTIMONIALS 

 

 

And for that fashion history buff on your Christmas list, why not get them our founder’s book, Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry?

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry book

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry Second Edition

OTHER UOF PERKS

In addition to our 500+ video lesson library you will also be able to access our Resources library consisting of a fashion terminology A-Z, design tools, a marketplace, fashion books, magazines & blog info and a list of fashion schools and fashion museums. You will also gain access to our free croquis templates:

So treat yourself to a UoF subscription or give it as a gift OR why not do both?

KNIT MANIA: KNITTING HISTORY, TRENDS, INSPIRATION AND HOW-TO KNIT

Looks from Brandon Maxwell’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

It’s the holiday season and what better way to stay warm and toasty than to knit your own sweater? Or better yet, give the unique gift of a ‘handmade’ knitted sweater or poncho scarf?

In the spirit of giving, UoF is offering their once-yearly subscription discount so that you can learn how to knit (plus 500+ other videos to learn from). A UoF yearly subscription was $189 is now $149, or take advantage of our $5 off the first month of our monthly subscription (was $19.95). But the offer expires on Jan 1, 2023, so get a move on!

Here’s how to sign up: https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/

If you are looking for inspiration, we’ve compiled some knit looks to whet your appetite, followed by links to our lessons that will teach you knitting techniques. Have a ball!

 

A look from Stella McCartney’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Knit History & Fun Facts

The craft of hand knitting has been practiced for thousands of years. Where and how this art was originated is still a mystery but many believe that Arabian nomads carried the craft into Europe. Still others think knitting originated in Persia, but regardless of where the craft began knitting is one of the original ‘textiles’.

Knitting is the practice of using two or more needles to pull and loop yarn into a series of interconnected loops. The word is derived from the Dutch verb ‘knutten’ or ‘knot’,  which is similar to the Old English ‘cnyttan’, “to knot”. Originally, knitting, like woven textiles, fulfilled the basic human need for protection against the elements, but as we all know, hand knitting has become less a necessary skill and more of a hobby.

The oldest knitted artifact are socks that date back to the 11th century Egypt. They are a very fine gauge, done with intricate color work and some have a short row heel, which requires the purl stitch.

1,700-Year-Old Sock –  Ancient Egyptian Fashion. (Photo Credit: British Museum)

The predecessor to knitting and crocheting was a process known as Nålebinding, a technique of making textiles by creating multiple loops with a single needle and thread, much like sewing. Some artifacts, for example 3rd-5th century CE Romano-Egyptian toe-socks, used the “Coptic stitch” of nalbinding.

During Medieval times, knitting was controlled by guilds. Knitted garments were worn only by the wealthy class. But by the 16th century knitting had advanced into a craft. During the Elizabethan era, knitting schools were established in Britain. Knitted stockings provided a revenue for the poor. These stockings were exported to Germany, Holland and Spain. During this time period men wore short trousers, so fitted stockings were a fashion necessity. A knitting technique, known as Dales knitting, began at the end of the 16th century. Items from this cottage knitting industry are preserved in the Museum of Hawes in Wensleydale.

Knitting is also significant in Scottish history. During the 17th and 18th centuries entire families were involved in knitting garments, especially sweaters, which were important to the fisherman of the Scottish Isles. Fair isle and cable patterns were used to knit sweaters. In addition, during the French-Napoleonic wars, woman gathered together to knit socks and mittens for the soldiers. This practice continued through both World War I and World War II.

Fair Isle knitting, named after one of the Shetland Islands north of Britain, is an intricate pattern believed to be knitted around 1850, yet some historians believe that fair isle knitting was inspired in 1588 when a Spanish ship was destroyed off Fair Isle and the crew encouraged native knitters to create new knitting patterns. The Prince of Wales wore a fair isle sweater in 1921.

The famous image of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, wearing a Fair Isle sweater in 1921. (Photo Credit: Fraserknitwear)

Machine Knitting

The invention of the knitting machine, during the Industrial Revolution, over took the craft of hand knitting, as hand knitting was unable to compete with the speed of these knitting machines. As a result, knitting as an art and craft fell to the wayside and was mainly kept alive as a hobby.

A look from Marni’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Today, however, there is a renaissance of hand knitting. Various techniques from around the world are being combined and specialty yarns have been created from various fibers. The results have been quite impressive. Knitting has become fashionable, even celebrities including Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Dakota Fanning, and Cameron Diaz have been seen knitting, which has helped popularize the revival of the art of knitting.

So, why not cozy up with a cup of tea and watch our instructional videos on how to hand knit and crochet. Each lesson lists the yarn amounts and the tools you’ll need. Oh, by the way, Marcie, our instructor is a knit/crochet pro. Let these resort 2023 looks inspire your next creation.

BOLD STRIPES

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

CRAFTY CROCHET

A look from Moschino’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

COLORBLOCK

A look from Gabriela Hearst’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

NAUTICAL STRIPES

A look from Sacai’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

MARBLED KNITS

A look from Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

EMBELLISHED SWEATERS

A look from Max Mara’s Resort 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Check out these UoF lesson previews to inspire you!

KNITTING A PONCHO SCARF

 

KNITTING A RAISED RIB STITCH

KNITTING A SWEATER

KNITTING A TRELLIS LACE STITCH

So tell us, what would you like to hand-knit this holiday season?

 

 

WHO REALLY INVENTED THE MINI? AND THE Y2K BREAKOUT TREND: THE MICRO MINI

A look from Miu Miu’s Spring 2022. (Photo Credit: iMaxTree)

In August of 2021, the UoF blogged about Y2K fashion making a major comeback, and almost nine months later the trend is still going strong. The breakout Y2K trend is no doubt the micro mini skirt, according to online search engine retailer Lyst. Demand for mini skirts is at a three-year high, with over 900 searches a day for the now-infamous, Miu Miu-sanctioned bottom (reported on March 7, 2022, in Vogue Business).

Left to Right Zendaya, Yoona, and Hunter Schafer, a;; in the Miu Miu mini. (Photo Credit: Elle Singapore)

Miu Miu’s ultra-short, low-rise, pleated skirt has taken the fashion world by storm — with celebrities ranging from Nicole Kidman to Zendaya, all sporting it on their social media pages and magazine covers. The hottest item of the season has barely enough fabric peaking out from under its belted waistband; for those of us who were teens or young adults in the early aughts, the itty-bitty skirt reminds us of Britney Spears’ iconic, sexy schoolgirl outfit in her 1998 Baby One More Time music video.

Britney Spears music video Baby One More Time. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While the micro mini is not a trend for everyone, some have even called the look trashy, nevertheless, demand for the mini is skyrocketing. The Miu Miu skirt is so popular it even has its own Instagram account, @miumiuset. Miu Miu has been sold out of the coveted item for weeks and has a long list of fashionistas eager to get their hands on the coveted skirt, despite its hefty price tag. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? The skimpiest version of the khaki miniskirt costs $950, with a slightly longer version available for $1,150. Those of us who can calculate garment fabric consumption, that’s about a quarter of a yard or 9 inches worth of fabric!!

Miuccia Prada presented the infamous micro-mini skirt during Miu Miu’s spring 2022 fashion show last October. It was an immediate hit as the skirt was seen on nearly every red carpet. After so much buzz and success of the barely-there skirt, the designer revamped the bold style for her fall 2022 Prada collection.  And of course, plenty of designers followed in her footsteps, creating their own versions, like Balmain and Valentino.

A look from Prada’s Spring 2022. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Now that we know the leggy silhouette will continue to reign supreme for fall, let’s dig into the history of the controversial piece.

HISTORY OF THE MINI

The Mini has always been on of society’s most controversial fashion items. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

It is common knowledge that the mini skirt craze began in the sixties as an empowering fashion choice during the birth of the woman’s liberation movement. But hold on, let’s discuss.

British-designer Mary Quant has often been credited for ‘inventing’ the miniskirt, that started the mod fashion movement. In a 2014 interview with the New York Daily News, Quant stated: “A miniskirt was a way of rebelling.” The Quant definition of a mini required the bottom edge of the skirt to hit roughly halfway up the thigh and fall no more than four inches below the butt. In today’s terms, a ‘modest mini’.

Designer Mary Quant, pictured with models in 1967. (Photo Credit: PA Prints)

But perhaps the real truth about the birth of the ‘mini’ should be traced back to the 1950s when ‘above the knee’ skirts appeared in couture alongside rock & roll and the youth dance craze. In reality, the most era-defining look of the 1960s, the mini, was a gradual process. According to England’s Victor & Albert Museum, (which held an exhibit on Mary Quant’s fashion movement from April 6, 2019 – Feb. 16, 2020) very early signs of the mini were detected in late-1950s couture. Case in point, Balenciaga’s ‘sack’ dress, which introduced a simple, semi-fitted shape that took the emphasis away from the wearer’s waist and Yves Saint Laurent’s 1959 ‘trapeze’ line for Dior, that promised to show more leg, or even some knee. Paris couturier André Courrèges achieved international publicity for a couture collection featuring short skirts and space-age dresses in April 1964.

Contemporary photographs and surviving dresses show that it wasn’t until 1966 that skirts became really short. Quant herself has acknowledged how the trend for rising hemlines was influenced by an emerging London street-style, and a wider cultural shift towards informality and the break-down of social codes. Away from the rarified world of Parisian couture houses however, it took a young women like Quant and schoolgirls on the streets, who were improvising short skirts.

André Courrèges, 1969. (Photo Credit: AP Photo)

For decades fashion historians have debated who actually invented the miniskirt, André Courrèges or Mary Quant. Although Quant has famously said, “It wasn’t me or Courrèges who invented the miniskirt anyway—it was the girls in the street who did it.”

Quant was an early ambassador of the ‘above the knee’ look, rocking a knee-skimming skirt during a visit to New York as early as 1960. As a designer she enjoyed adapting minimal styles that disrupted traditional social and gender roles – short hemlines suited her simple shift dresses. With a growing presence in the media, Quant played a significant role in the adoption of the miniskirt by contemporary women in England, Europe, and the USA.

Mary Quant At Work Around 1967. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In 1965 the term ‘miniskirt’ was used to reference above-the-knee hemlines by newspapers and magazines (Quant named her iconic skirt the mini after her favorite car). In 1966, Quant’s contribution to fashion was recognized by the Queen, with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) medal. Quant was photographed at Buckingham Palace wearing one of her own trademark jersey minidresses, which promoted her distinctive look around the world.

Twiggy and Justine De Villeneuve. (Photo Credit: AP Photo)

In the mid-sixties, supermodel Twiggy became the unofficial poster child for the miniskirt look. In 1965, model Jean Shrimpton caused a stir when she wore a miniskirt with no stockings, hat, or gloves to the Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia. That year the mini also got a boost when Yves Saint Laurent debuted his famous and very short ‘Mondrian’ dresses.

Paco Rabanne introduced his iconic, plastic, chainmail miniskirt in 1966, followed by the throw-away minidress. The mini was officially a high fashion statement.

Goldie Hawn on Laugh In in the Sixties. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

By the mid to late sixties the television show “Laugh In” debuted American actress Goldie Hawn in her mini, inspiring American girls to copy the actress’s signature mod style. By 1968, former First-Lady Jackie Kennedy cemented the trend with her Valentino short white pleated Valentino dress when she married Aristotle Onassis.

The historic Valentino wedding dress worn by Jackie Onassis in 1968. (Photo Credit: The Corbis)

When the Vietnam War began and political tensions began to rise, mini skirts fell out of fashion and the maxi skirt was the sartorial choice among young women.

Mini-skirts became fashionable again in the mid-seventies when singers like Blondie regularly wore mini skirts on stage. The mini also became a staple for the Punk crowd as it was reinvented in black leather and PVC.

By the early eighties, the mini-skirt was once again reinvented and became known as the rah-rah (or ra-ra) skirt, originating from cheerleading uniforms. The Oxford Dictionary noted this as the first successful miniskirt revival. And in 1982, the rah-rah skirt even appeared on the cover of Time magazine. In 1984, Madonna performed at the MTV Video Music Awards, wowing the crowd in a white tulle minidress resembling a wedding dress as she sang “Like A Virgin”.

Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell in the ’90s. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In the early nineties miniskirts were all the rage with icons like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and the Spice Girls keeping the powerful item, hip, trendy and in the public sphere. Once again, the controversial sartorial choice suggested both empowerment & vulnerability, liberation & exploitation, and shifted the dynamics, allowing women to take charge of their own sexualities.

Paris Hilton in the early 2000s wore mini skirts from day to night. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

In the early aughts, miniskirts made a major comeback thanks to fashion icon Paris Hilton, who raised her hemline even further to “macro mini” length. And let’s not forget Tom Ford, who proclaimed the ‘mini-est’ of micro skirts to be the ‘it’ item of his spring/summer 2003 collection.

A look from Gucci’s spring 2003 collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Fast-forward to 2022. After living through a global pandemic and social and political unrest around the world, designers are raising hemlines once again to micro-mini status. And just as the miniskirt was provocative back in the ’50s & ’60s when the trend made its way into the wardrobes of fashionable girls everywhere, the micro-mini today offers the same kind of sartorial edge. Although today’s micro version may be harder to pull off, there’s no denying that it is becoming one of the most popular trends of the moment. As the saying goes, “what comes around goes around”.

A street style star in Prada during Milan Fashion Week, Feb. 2022. (Photo Credit: Phil Oh)

So tell us, who do you think invented the mini?

 

A TIMELINE OF MUSIC’S INFLUENCE OVER FASHION

- - Fashion History

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performing at the Hella Mega Tour. (Photo Credit: AP)

It’s almost impossible to envision a world where music and fashion do not go hand in hand. Music affects our lives greatly and speaks volumes to the times we are living in. On August 4th, I attended my first concert post-pandemic, and it was one of the most exhilarating and liberating experiences that I’ve had in years. My teenage daughter and I went to see Green Day and Weezer at the “Hella Mega Tour”, sadly Fall Out Boy had to cancel due to one of its members testing positive for Covid. As soon as I walked into the stadium, I noticed that the punk movement is alive and well in NYC and Green Day fans at every age were rocking their leather jackets, colorful hair, corsets and plaid. It was thrilling to see all these teens and adults rocking out and having the best time. So naturally, it inspired this post on how music influences fashion.

The influence music has on fashion has been evident throughout history. Music, much like fashion, has always been used as a way of self-expression and both are also emotional and obtainable forms of art that the masses can enjoy and partake in. Fashion, like music, is one of the clearest signs of the times, and it says more about our culture than we give it credit for. We can easily distinguish the difference between the bell-bottom jean’s hippies wore in 1969 versus the skin-tight denim worn by emo teens in 2005.

Sean Diddy Combs, the Hip-Hop Legend and fashion designer was featured in an Vogue editorial with Kate Moss in the October, 1999 issue of Vogue Magazine. (Photo Credit: Annie Leibovitz)

The reason why fashion and music became so intricately linked is because music became a method of demonstrating individuality, political beliefs, and ideas rather than just homogenized entertainment. The way music influenced fashion (and vice versa) can be witnessed in almost every decade of last century. The following decades demonstrated how music trends truly affected fashion.

1920’s FLAPPERS

Benny Krueger’s band plays at Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach as a flapper girl dances on the piano. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In today’s day and age jazz music may seem squeaky clean and innocent, but it was extremely scandalous during its early years because it was the first form of music that was played almost exclusively at nightclubs and speakeasies that hosted people of all races. Jazz music also tended to have strong feminist undertones, which changed the way women behaved and dressed.

A flapper in London models an evening frock of lilac tulle with a beaded tunic in 1922. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Many women who were fans of jazz music dressed in flapper fashion. These feminists broke out of the traditional roles that society had placed on them and opted instead for short dresses, no bras, and loose clothing that gave them movement and freedom to dance the night away.

1950’s TEEN POP

Rock musician Elvis Presley enthralled teens and scandalized adults with his suggestive lyrics and dance moves. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Despite the impact the Roaring Twenties had on flapper fashion, most fashion houses ignored teens and only catered to adult tastes. Thankfully, this all changed in the 1950s, with advent of  television and movies, and of course, as music became more widely available to the public. With the rising visibility of movie stars and rock and roll artists, such as Elvis Presley, a new demand began to arise. Teenagers craved clothes that bore a resemblance to the fashion that their favorite idols wore. The teen market grew to the point that designers no longer could ignore it, and so, the teen fashion industry was born.

1960’s MODS

Photographed in London in February of 1964, just days before their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show which would set off a global wave of Beatlemania. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The ‘60s were a swinging time in London as a more modern version of jazz began to evolve and the “modernists” movement was born. This ‘60s subculture also embraced the musical styles of ska, R&B, and soul.

The “modernists” embraced the bohemian lifestyle of the ‘50s Beatnik generation, so it came as no surprise that many chose to mimic that look as part of their lifestyle. Eventually, this extremely fashion-conscious clique of clubkids became known as Mods.

Models in Mod British designer Mary Quant looks as the designer launches her footwear collection in 1967. (Photo Credit: Instagram Dress Historians)

By the middle of the ‘60s, the Mod subculture’s brand of beatnik-meets-modern fashion became one of the biggest trends in high fashion history. Even today, both the music and the stylistic aesthetic of Mod fashion continues to be a joyful and youthful source of inspiration for top designers.

1960’s HIPPIES

Singer Janis Joplin embodied psychedelic in an entirely tie-dyed outfit. (Photo Credit: Pintrest)

While London teens embraced the Mod movement, teens in America had a very different fashion revolution. During the Sixties, many American teenage boys were being drafted to fight during the Vietnam War, and as a result, musicians began to write music that reflected those anti-establishment times.

Flared jeans and fringe, iconic hippies trends. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

During this period, many musicians and fans began to experiment with psychedelic drugs like LSD and peyote. As a result, both music and fashion turned trippy, in the form of tie-dye motifs, bold floral prints, crafty accessories, crochet, fringe, and bell bottom jeans among the biggest trends of the time.

1970’s PUNK

SEX PISTOLS; Group photo on the set of the Pretty Vacant video shoot L-R Sid Vicious, Paul Cook, Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) and Steve Jones (Photo Credit: Virginia Turbett/Redferns)

Much like Mods, many early punks also enjoyed the musical genre of ska, reggae, and soul. However, this music Punk scene quickly became known for aggressive rock music with just very light ska elements tossed into the mix.

The punk movement quickly evolved to become a social one. Due to punk music’s deep focus on individuality and freedom, many people joined the punk scene as a way to raise their middle finger to the establishment. So their sartorial choices were always been geared towards hand made items like leather jackets, brightly colored hair, piercings and anything that looked different from typical mainstream.

Punks sitting on the floor of London’s Roxy club in Covent Garden, one of the key venues in 1976. (Photo Credit: Derek Ridgers)

In the early seventies, Vivienne Westwood, along with then partner Malcolm McLaren, orchestrated the stylistic revolution of Punk. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Punk is generally considered to be the first real music subculture out there, with Glam Rock being a close second.

1970’s GLAM ROCK

Jan. 1, 1970 – DAVID BOWIE LIVE IN CONCERT IN 1970 (Credit Image: © UPPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)

As special effects during the Seventies were being used in television and films, and Star Wars became one of the first movies to involve so many of these effects, it made sense for musicians to sign on. The ‘70s were one of the first decades that truly embraced science fiction as it became a major focal point in pop culture.

Musicians such as David Bowie, Marc Bolan, and bands like Kiss, began to draw inspiration from sci-fi as they ramped up their showmanship by adding sci-fi “backstories” to their performances, resulting in the birth of Glam Rock.

Rocker Marc Bolan in London in the mid 70s. (Photo Credit: Alamy)

So, it should come as no surprise that many underground shops began to carry items that fit the Glam Rock aesthetic, although, many people loved the music but didn’t buy into the glam rock fashion movement. As a result, many consider glam rock to be one of the first actual pop subcultures out there.

1980’s GOTH

Members of the Goth Eighties band The Cure. (Photo Credit: Rolling Stones)

One of the most eminent spinoffs of glam rock was goth music. Originally, goth music started off as death rock, which is just about as dark and gloomy as one would expect it to be. Death rock progressed into synthpop, new wave, and several other similar genres.

Goth kids. (Photo Credit: Museum of Youth Culture Rebecca Lewis)

Most of these sullen music genres became tied to quite a few other habits, such as wearing all black, a love of  horror movies, pale make-up, dark burgundy lipstick, and just enjoying the darker side of life. Gothic fashion’s beginnings often mimicked the spookier elements with ‘witch-like’ fashion, much like many of Tim Burton’s characters.

1990’s GRUNGE

Seattle band Nirvana was one of the biggest influential grunge style of music. (Photo Credit: Rolling Stones)

In the nineties, a new sound was born out of teenage angst, known as Grunge music. These young, garage band musicians rebelled against their very commercialized way that life of living in suburbia, and the anger they had against the world. Artists like Kurt Cobain ended up venting it via music…and it resonated with a whole generation of teens.

Naomi Campbell and Kristen McMenamy in a Vogue editorial. (Photo Credit: Steven Meisel, Vogue, December 1992)

The gritty, unkept look of those style clothing quickly attracted those who liked the music’s edgy appeal. Marc Jacobs was an early adopter of this look. Today, the 90s grunge movement still remains a identifiable fashion trend.

1990’s HIP-HOP

TLC’s Tionne T-Boz Watkins, Lisa Left Eye Lopes, and Rozonda Chilli Thomas owned the 90s as the best selling American girl group of all time. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

By the late eighties and early nineties, hip-hop exploded and became one of the most popular forms of music. Hip-hop culture was born on the streets of urban neighborhoods like New York, Los Angeles, and Detroit, where rap battles, breakdancing, and turntablism became a way of life for teens.

Aaliyah’s famed ’90s Hilfiger ad. (Photo Credit: Tommy Hilfiger Archives)

It was just a matter of time that the influence of hip hop began to spread outside of urban areas and embraced by teens all across America. People began to emulate the fashion of rappers, and by the time that hip hop became mainstream, it became synonymous with a specific style of clothing. Some of the most popular hip hop trends were baggy pants with your underwear logo peaking through, Adidas tracksuits, oversized sports jerseys, bucket hats, bold colors, and plenty of gold chain necklaces.

2010’s EDM: ELECTRIC DANCE MUSIC

Marshmellow is one of the most famous EDM artists. (Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

During the nineties, the underground world of electronica boomed, as warehouses hosted Radical Audio-Visual Experiences, which would eventually be known as raves. These parties were about promoting Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect through heavy beats, turntable matches, and of course, heavy drug usage.

Ravers at an EDM Festival. (Photo Credit: IEDM.com)

This underground Electric Dance Music (EDM) movement never really left but in the early 2000’s the rave culture had a resurgence that morphed to include tiny bikinis, glowing wings, UFO pants, and of course, leg fuzzies,

2020’s GENDER-BENDING FASHION

Harry Styles-gender-bending fashionista

As we have now entered a new decade, the 2020s, pop music artists like Dua Lipa, Arianna Grande, Lil Nas and Harry Styles mix music with gender-bending fashion, So stay tuned…….

Pop culture influences music, and music influences fashion. So what type of music and fashion influences you?