Author Archives: Rebecca Arnold

Why Art History Matters

We read with distress the AQA Exam Board’s decision to drop Art History as an A and AS Level – this means the qualification will no longer be offered in any UK schools.  For those of us, who, like me have spent their adult lives working within the field, this decision is deeply worrying and suggests a lack of appreciation for the subject’s significance and impact at school level.

Professor Debby Swallow, Märit Rausing Director of the Courtauld, wrote an eloquent response to this news:

“The definition of Art History as a ‘soft subject’ and the demise of its existence as an A Level seriously misunderstands a subject which is enormously important to the economy, culture and well-being of this country.  History of Art is a rigorous interdisciplinary subject, which gives its students the critical skills to deal with a world that is increasingly saturated with images. It brings together visual analysis with history, languages, literature, chemistry, and art and design to name but a few inter-related areas of study and research. Those studying it at university level have a significant impact across the cultural sector, especially in public museums and galleries. Art History as a subject needs to be much better known and not denigrated. The Courtauld Institute of Art, the oldest higher education institution in this country dedicated to its study, is deeply committed to increasing understanding and enjoyment of the study of the history of art and to working with others to ensure that it is embedded across the school curriculum and is accessible to all our school students.”

We should be seeking to expand the subject, rather than, as the government’s policies with regards to school curricula have meant, reducing the focus on Arts subjects.  As our Head of Public Programmes Henrietta Hine comments, ‘In terms of widening participation young people can’t apply to study art history at university if they don’t know it exists as a subject; ceasing to offer the A level will surely only exacerbate the situation.’  Something leading Make Up Artist Kay Montano expresses in her comment:

kay-montano

Comments added to our Instagram posts citing Swallow’s statement and protesting this decision have shown the wealth of support for the subject in general – and the importance of maintaining, and indeed, working to increase its presence in British schools, opening it up to a broader range of young people.  As these responses from Theo Johns, a Fine Art Dealer and Agent, Farah Ebrahimi, Art Director at e15 and Philipp Mainzer Office for Art & Design, and Leslie Camhi, a journalist and author who has written for titles including Vogue and The New York Times show – art history opens our eyes to wider cultural significances and events:

theojohnsfineart farah-ebrahimi lesliecamhi

And, as Swallow points out, in an age of increasing reliance on images to communicate diverse meanings, cutting a subject that is predicated on developing an acute eye for representation’s significance and cultural resonances is wrong-headed.  This was something many of our Instagram followers commented on, including textile designer Peter D’Ascoli, and Art Historian and Costume maker Serena Foksaner:

peterdascoli serena_fokshaner

Art History as Gateway to Careers

Our alumni destinations demonstrate the breadth of experience and transferrable skills art history graduates have – in addition to those who find jobs in museums, galleries and academic, we have many who go on to work in law, banking, journalism, design, publishing and with the government, as well as many other fields. To illustrate this, here is the latest list of where our most recent former students were working six months after graduation – and remember, this is just from The Courtauld Institute:

  • Art Cuéllar-Nathan
  • Barbican Centre
  • Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Christie’s
  • David Chipperfield Architects
  • English Heritage
  • Frieze
  • Halcyon Gallery
  • Midas PR
  • National Trust
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • Pinewood Studios
  • Rijksmuseum
  • Royal Academy of Arts
  • Saatchi Gallery
  • Sotheby’s
  • Tate
  • The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • University of Cambridge
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Yale Center for British Art

Source: Based on the latest Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey: 6 months after graduation

Art History, Dress & Fashion

My own students in Dress History, a branch of art history that again encompasses the subject’s breadth and diversity have an equally impressive range of post-graduation employment, ranging from museums and galleries, including The Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to the Mode Museum in Antwerp and Tate Modern.  Others have worked within the fashion industry, as buyers, as journalists, for example at The Stylist, at Conde Nast and for fashion show producers.  Their success is indicative of the skills art history imparts, and the passion it instills in people to think creatively about historical and contemporary culture.

This relationship between understanding of art and dress history, again supports Hine’s comment about school level teaching opens young people up to the wider range of subjects that it is possible to explore at university level.  Something several of our Instagram followers commented on, including fashion historian Cassidy Zachary – @the_art_of_dress –

the_art_of_dress

Art History A Level also plays a significant role for many British fashion journalists and designers, providing early exposure to the ways art resonates within our culture, and how it has been and can be a key influence on designs – as seen in London womens- and menswear designer Phoebe English’s reaction:

phoebeenglish

Art History should be valued as a bridge between history, geography, literature and languages, and art and design subjects – it is a way to appreciate connections between arts and humanities and science subjects, and a conduit for creative expression in practical forms – as one commenter from New Zealand highlighted:

pamelajaney

Sarah Mower, US Voguerunway Chief Critic and British Fashion Council Ambassador for Emerging Talent has been ardent in her support for this campaign.  She credits her hugely successful career in fashion journalism to studying art history and benefitting from the myriad skills it equips us with:

“I was taught art history by Griselda Pollock and TJ Clark at Leeds University – it changed my way of being able to parse imagery, adding to what I had learned through history of art at state school, and It’s impossible to imagine being where I am without that. Fluency in art history and the ability to embed layers of meaning in clothes is a given amongst British educated fashion designers- I really believe it is deeply of the essence of our national character in fashion which others look at and envy, but cannot replicate, because these things start right back in childhood – and at school. High flyers in fashion who emerge in Britain constantly apply art history to their collections – they know how to research, and often backstage interviews are like art and fashion seminars today. Erdem’s spring collection was based on the discovery of 17th century clothes on a sunken ship, and his research in Bath museum of fashion; Mary Katrantzou quoted the art and archaeology of Knossos, Sarah Burton’s McQueen collection went into enormous depth about Scottish culture and includes a dress which uses the inspiration of a Victorian etching of a shipwreck, Phoebe Philo’s Celine quoted Yves Klein, JW Anderson borrowed from Henry V111’s portraits and discussed doublets and slashed sleeves backstage. This is just to skim the surface of the most recent round of shows – My point being: this level of creative practice is part and parcel of Britain’s commercial advantage in fashion. Fashion in the UK is worth £28 billion to the economy – take away the cultural alchemy of the creative intelligence which our designers turn into design, and you just have garments.  Whilst it is pure idiocy of a government to excise a crucial commercial weapon – if they want to look at it that way – we must look at their excuses for doing so. Firstly they complain they cannot find examiners – surely there are hundreds who are reading this who can volunteer? How do we do that? Secondly, supporting teachers and teaching – how can we, the creative community, do that in practical ways? Thirdly – I want to know how these decisions about A levels were made, and are only now being presented as a fait accompli. Frankly, it is to easy to sit around writing letters to the Guardian. Practical action has to be taken.”

We urge you to sign Courtauld alumnae Nerissa Taysom’s petition to show your support for maintaining Art History as an A Level subject and to campaign for a reversal of this decision:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-art-history-as-an-a-level-subject

Act:

Comment using the link at the bottom of The Guardian’s letter page: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/oct/16/a-level-art-history-should-never-have-been-given-the-brush-off

Click the link at the bottom of The Telegraph’s page to answer NO to the question ‘Do you support the decision to scrap A-level art history?’: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/16/art-history-cant-just-be-the-preserve-of-the-middle-class-in-a-n/

Read:

The Art Newspaper: http://theartnewspaper.com/news/news/uk-university-professors-condemn-axing-of-art-history-a-level-/

Association of Art Historians: http://aah.org.uk/campaigns

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37642722

Raoul Dufy for Bianchini Ferier, Gazette du Bon Ton 1920, no. 8
Raoul Dufy textile print “Longchamp” for Bianchini Ferier, Gazette du Bon Ton 1920, no. 8, Courtauld collections
Raoul Dufy for Gazette du Bon Ton, 1920, no. 1
Raoul Dufy for Gazette du Bon Ton, 1920, no. 1, Courtauld collections
Degas, Lady with a Parasol, 1870-72
Degas, Lady with a Parasol, 1870-72, Courtauld collections

30 Second Fashion / Fashion in 30 Seconds

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2-30-second-fashion3-30-second-fashion-contents-page

4-madeleine-vionnet-double-page-spread-from-30-second-fashionAbout 18 months ago I was contacted by Ivy Press and asked if I’d like to work on a book called 30 Second Fashion. It was to be part of a series of 30 Second … books – each covering a specific topic, which is divided into 50 essential themes, with each theme then discussed over a double page spread that can be read in 30 seconds.

This sounded like a challenge not to be missed – but how to you boil fashion down into 50 topics? That was the first task – once I’d agreed to take on the role of consultant editor. So I set about making a list, trying to think what someone would want to know, or need to know if they were interested in fashion, but just starting to find out about it …  Some things were obvious – something on different types of fashion – haute couture, ready-to-wear etc, but also a section on streetstyle. The various types of media involved in promoting fashion needed to be included and influential designers … and … and … the list got long, then was cut down, then refined to make it as clear and comprehensive as possible.  You can see what I ended up choosing in the image showing the contents page.

Next, was to decide who to ask to write each section. I took on some topics myself (I can never pass up the opportunity to write about Madeleine Vionnet, for example – I’ve included that spread here for you to see), but I wanted to approach people I knew could produce fluent, wonderful text – and importantly, who could be ultra concise, and very prompt, as the deadline was short.

I was lucky – all my first choices said ‘yes’ and they were all as brilliant as I knew they would be.  Several were former students from The Courtauld – all have varied and fascinating interests and experience that made for an interesting group of contributors:

Julia Rea loves Chanel, really understands the contemporary industry and is a freelance writer

Katerina Pantelides is great on details and how history and contemporary meet and is writing a novel

Rebecca Straub is currently at Yale University studying for a PhD and is always great on imagery

Emma McClendon is brilliant on key figures in the industry and is now Assistant Curator at Museum at FIT

All had previously studied with me at MA or PhD level, so I knew they would produce perfect, well-researched text.  And finally, two long-standing friends and peers:

Olga Vainshtein, who knows all there is to know about digital media and fashion – and who is one of Russia’s leading fashion historians

Alison Toplis, brilliant researcher and writer, and fount of knowledge on fashion history (- we met when we studied History of Dress together at The Courtauld).

So I knew I had a wonderful team, all of whom understood the project immediately. They were an absolute pleasure to work with and I want to thank all of them for being completely brilliant throughout the process.

I also want to thank everyone at Ivy Press. It has been great working with you, we were all given the support we needed, and the book looks wonderful!

It’s really fascinating to work on something like this – to have the opportunity to gather together great people and see how they condense such a vast topic into a small space.

The book is published today – hope you enjoy it!

Rebecca Arnold, 30 Second Fashion, Ivy Press, Fashion Book

Fashion: A Very Short Introduction

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The new academic year is just beginning here in the UK, so to welcome all the new students focused on Dress History and Fashion Studies, we are giving you a PDF to download that will hopefully get started on your new course!

spectres-exhibition-designed-and-curated-by-judith-clark-at-momu-antwerp-2005
Spectres exhibition, designed and curated by Judith Clark at Momu, Antwerp, 2005.

This is the Introduction to my book Fashion: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2009), which discusses some of the definitions of the word fashion and its multiple meanings.  When I was writing this, I thought hard about how to introduce what is such a seemingly easy term that quickly becomes complex when you think of all the ways it is used within global culture.  I used Judith Clark’s amazing 2005 exhibition Spectres, held at MoMu in Antwerp as my starting point.  Encapsulated within the show were many of the ideas I wanted to convey to open up the book and its readers to ways to study and think about fashion.  I hope you will find this an interesting opening – I loved writing this book, it was a challenge to decide how to approach a big subject in a small format, but actually, this gave a brilliant clarity and focus to what needed to be covered in each chapter, to build towards a (very short) introduction to fashion …

Happy New Term!

Finding Elizabeth Hawes: Dress, Art & Politics – An Interview with Gavrik Losey

Processed with MOLDIV

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Elizabeth Hawes advertisement, 1938

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Elizabeth Hawes advertisement, 1938

A few months ago, April Calahan and Karen Trivette of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Special Collections in New York contacted me to ask if I would interview Gavrik Losey for their Oral History Project. I was thrilled – I am a great admirer of all things FIT, and its Special Collections department was crucial to my research for The American Look: Fashion, Sportswear & the Image of Women in 1930s and 1940s New York (IB Tauris 2009). Indeed, I used many of the fascinating interviews with people connected with American fashion held there to help me to understand the period and its significance.

Of course the fact that it was Gavrik Losey they had asked me to interview was the real draw. Gavrik’s mother is Elizabeth Hawes – celebrated designer, journalist and political activist, and the opportunity to ask him about his memories of growing up under her influence was not to be missed. His father is of great significance too – theatre and film director Joseph Losey was as politically engaged as Hawes, and so Gavrik’s experiences with his parents would open up a key period in American history.

We met this week at The Courtauld on a hot September day, to film the interview. It was fascinating to hear Gavrik’s memories – ultimately I will write about these in more detail, but I wanted to give you a taste of the touching, funny and evocative stories he had to tell. So here are a few of the many things I learnt about in a discussion that lasted well over an hour and which gave amazing insight into Elizabeth Hawes’ significance and so much more.

Gavrik’s earliest memory of his mother relating to dress is picking up pins off the floor of the workroom at her 59th Street establishment. He also learnt how to press clothes at an early age – his mother’s advice? Only iron the parts of each garment that will be seen … He went on to describe her mix of artistry and pragmatism as a designer and her drive to make clothes that fitted contemporary women’s lives. Her interest in colour theory – the idea that each personality type has an appropriate colour palette – extended into the salon’s interior and even their home. Hawes loved to have walls of different shades to set off the ensembles being shown …

He remembered how his mother loved to drape fabric to create new garments – and travelled everywhere with a little, to-scale mannequin, so she could devise new creations. Oh, and that she made samples to her own size, so that she could wear each new collection once it had been shown …

He also told of her wicked sense of humour – which made itself known in the names she gave her garments, including a dramatic multi-coloured striped gown called ‘Alimony’ – which came with a bag in the shape of male genitalia – Gavrik still has this memento of Hawes’ satirical approach to fashion …

He spoke at length about her relationships with contemporary artists and the influence of art on her work. I was especially interested to hear about the impact of Kandinsky on her use of geometric forms and flashes of colour and varied textures in her designs. Look at examples from the 1930s, for example in the Met’s collection, and this insight will open up your eyes to their meanings, I am sure …

Another aspect of his parents and his own life was the importance of political engagement. Gavrik spoke movingly of the harsh impact of FBI investigations into his parents’ activities and the terrible toll this took on their lives and work. It was heartbreaking to hear how agents turned clients and friends against Hawes, warning them of her left-wing sympathies. These files only became available after her death, so she never knew why New York became such an unwelcoming place for her when she returned in the late 1940s to reopen her business after undertaking union and war work.

I am still processing all the incredible things that Gavrik spoke about – he was incredibly generous with his time and his memories and thoughts about his mother’s life and work. It is wonderful that – once catalogued – his interview will be housed at FIT and available to researchers wanting to understand women, dress and politics, issues as fundamentally entwined within Hawes’ work as they are within our wider culture.

Find out more about FIT’s Special Collections here
And see some of Elizabeth Hawes’ designs here:

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/search?keyword=elizabeth+hawes#archives

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search#!/search?q=elizabeth%20hawes&sortBy=Relevance&sortOrder=asc&offset=0&perPage=100&pageSize=0

Fashion, Desire and Anxiety

Welcome back from summer holidays!

We thought we would start Autumn off with some reading for you.  As our Instagram followers will know, my book Fashion, Desire & Anxiety: Image & Morality (I B Tauris) in the 20th Century was recently published in Russian. To celebrate, we are giving away this PDF from the English edition.

The book explores the ways fashion challenges contemporary morality – through its design, representation and the way it is worn, covering examples from subculture to haute couture.

So we hope you enjoy reading the book’s Introduction – explaining the ways fashion simultaneously provokes desire and anxiety, plus a section from chapter one titled ‘Simplicity’ – which considers the tensions between luxury and restraint in fashion.

We hope you enjoy the extract, and look forward to resuming our regular Tuesday and Friday blog posts for you.

ARNOLD_COVER
The front cover of the Russian edition of Fashion, Desire and Anxiety
Roger Fry, Nina Hamnett, 1917
Roger Fry, Nina Hamnett, 1917

Documenting Fashion – Happy summer holidays!

Documenting Fashion will be taking its summer holidays during August – so we thought we would leave you with some vacation reading while we are away – essays to download from our archives.

Continue to follow us on Instagram @documentingfashion_courtauld and we look forward to seeing all our wonderful blog followers again in September.

First, Rebecca’s essay with film historian Adrian Garvey – glamour and violence in the 1945 film Leave Her to Heaven:

http://sites.courtauld.ac.uk/documentingfashion/2015/09/29/sometimes-the-truth-is-wicked-fashion-violence-and-obsession-in-leave-her-to-heaven/

Next, another one from Rebecca – this time her discussion of the ‘New Rococo’ a style identified in contemporary fashion photography, and cinema – particularly Sofia Copploa’s films:

http://sites.courtauld.ac.uk/documentingfashion/2015/09/08/the-new-rococo-sofia-coppola-and-fashions-in-contemporary-femininity/

If you feel like learning more about dress history’s development and the subject’s 50 year development at The Courtauld, then this one is for you:

http://sites.courtauld.ac.uk/documentingfashion/2015/05/26/dress-and-history-since-1965-from-women-make-fashion-fashion-makes-women-conference-may-2015/

And finally, a discussion of reactions to Japanese fashion in the 1980s by Liz can be found here:

http://sites.courtauld.ac.uk/documentingfashion/2016/04/29/3630/

Happy Holidays!

Dressmaking – Rethinking Fashion in the 1930s

Spring Styles from Roma's Fashion, 1936
‘A Spring Medley’, from Roma’s Fashion, 1936

I’ve been sorting out my 1930s magazines and found three lovely mid-decade sewing journals that are a wonderful way to see how trends were disseminated – and re-fashioned – for a wider range of women.  Although high fashion magazines included columns on dressing on a budget, especially during the Depression, the amount of money needed to obtain such a wardrobe would still have been out of reach to most.  So titles such as Weldon’s Ladies’ Journal and Roma’s Fashions filled a gap in the market and enabled women to deploy their skills in dressmaking.

Women were keen to emulate the styles they saw in magazines, in newspapers and at the cinema – both in feature films and in newsreels that covered society events, and the latest fashions.  As one woman commented in the Mass Observation survey for 1939:

‘I always study fashion articles, advertisements, women’s magazines to keep my ideas up to date.  I never discuss with friends, but I take note of what well-to-do people wear, and notice photographs of the Queen or Duchess of Kent as naturally the fashion houses who dress those people should know what is coming in.  I take every chance of studying the displays in the best shops though I could not afford to patronize them.  Fashion in this locality [Burnley] lags behind the fashion in a large city like Manchester so I like to see the shops there.’

Magazines including those pictured here, therefore encouraged women to transform what they saw into reality, and to look to a variety of sources, as well as considering occasion and figure type when translating ideas into clothing.

Although ready-to-wear fashion was developing apace, there was still some prejudice against it – as middle class women were unsure how respectable such garments might be.  Women’s anxiety about the ways fashion was procured could be assuaged by reassuring magazine articles, and letters pages where readers could ask for advice anonymously.  Patterns could be made up at home, or taken to a local dressmaker.  Barbara Burman has written convincingly about the creativity involved in home dressmaking.  She argues that it allows women to adapt fashion or ignore it, even to pass off garments as shop bought and thus subvert the value system attached to how and where fashion was acquired.  She offers this description of the process as:

‘…a sort of autobiographical practice, home dressmaking is an intimate process. The garment made at home is not so swiftly had as the ready-made.  In its measuring, cutting, assembling and fitting, the form and realities of the maker’s own body must be met again and again.  Home dressmakers using a dressmaker’s dummy see their own body shape from all angles, as seen by another person or in a three-way mirror.’ 

So this gives the pages from my 1930s magazines a new perspective – not just a glimpse at earlier visions of femininity and domesticity, they in fact offer ways to rethink women’s agency in the period, and their approach to self-fashioning.

(L) Selection of 1930's Dressmaking Magazines, (R) 'How to Dress for Jubilee Year', Weldon's Ladies Journal, 1935
(L) Selection of 1930’s Dressmaking Magazines, (R) ‘How to Dress for Jubilee Year’, Weldon’s Ladies Journal, 1935
(L) Looking at Hollywood styles, Weldon's Ladies' Journal, 1935 (R) Knitting and Crochet, Roma's Fashions, October 1934
(L) ‘Looking at Hollywood Styles’, Weldon’s Ladies’ Journal, 1935 (R) Knitting and Crochet, Roma’s Fashions, October 1934
(L) C(entre L)
(L) ‘Dressing the Fuller Figure’, Roma’s Fashions, October 1934 (Centre L) ‘Styles for Business’, Weldon’s Ladies’ Journal, 1935 (Centre R) ‘A Dress Stand That Moulds to Your Figure’, Roma’s Fashions, October 1934 (R) ‘How to Dress like a Parisienne’, Weldon’s Ladies’ Journal 1935

Sources:

Barbara Burman, ‘”What a Deal of Work there is in a Dress!”  Englishness and Home Dressmaking in the Age of the Sewing Machine,’ in Christopher Breward, Becky Conekin and Caroline Cox, eds., The Englishness of English Dress (Oxford: Berg, 2002)

Catherine Horwood, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion and Class between the Wars (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2005)

Fashion is Spinach

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 21.12.04I have been thinking a lot about Elizabeth Hawes recently – about her ability to combine politics and fashion and her varied career that encompassed multiple books, as well as her couture and readymade fashion designs. Working in Paris in the 1920s as a sketcher – copying couture design, but also sending information on trends back to America from resorts such as Biarritz, gave her unique insight when she returned to New York the following decade and began designing. Vassar-educated, she brought a sharp eye to all she saw, and developed a keen wit to cope with some of her travails – especially when working within the constraints of department store readymade ranges. What is so compelling about her is the tensions her interests brought to her work – combining socialist ideals with a dress business was not always easy and her writing reflects her exasperation, as well as her inspiration, derived from the fashion industry.

Working, as she did, within a number of fields, she was able to reflect on these experiences in ways that are fascinating to examine now. At the moment, I’m looking at her 1938 book Fashion Is Spinach. If you haven’t read it –then do! It is lively and entertaining, but also a sharp, opinionated critique of the ways women are sold fashion, rather than encouraged to develop longevity through personal style. Throughout, her fascination with fashion and its potential to shape identities remains constant. I’ll write more once I’ve started to develop my research on her, as I want to think further about fashion and politics as themes within her work. For now though, here are a few choice quotations to whet your appetite:

‘I don’t know when the word fashion came into being, but it was an evil day. For thousands of years people got along with something called style and maybe, in another thousand, we’ll go back to it.’

‘Some people seem to like it [fashion]. There are a good many people who don’t, but just accept it as inevitable, throwing away perfectly good old clothes and buying new ones every year.’

‘The only useful purpose that changes in fashion can possibly have is to give a little additional gaiety to life.’

‘Chic is a combination of style and fashion. To be really chic, a woman must have a positive style, a positive way of living and acting and looking which is her own.’

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Sources & Images: Elizabeth Hawes, Fashion Is Spinach, New York, 1938

White Dresses, Summer Heat & Fashion Illustration

Georges Lepape, "Les Cerises", 1913, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Georges Lepape, “Les Cerises”, 1913, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art

Summer is at least attempting to begin here in London – we have intermittent, weak sunshine – so let’s be encouraged by the potential for warmth and look to the new season’s wardrobe.  Scanning editions of the wonderful Gazette du Bon Ton in the History of Dress collection at The Courtauld, I have noticed the continued fascination for white dresses, sometimes trimmed with primary colours, often left blank for maximum impact.  Of course, this makes perfect sense, white reflects the light, giving a cooling effect, but also has an emotional resonance – it looks nonchalant, we can imagine the feel of delicate fabrics against our skin and perceive white clothes to be fresh and airy.  Even though this impression may be difficult to maintain if you do not inhabit the luxurious realm of Gazette’s fashion plates.

A.E. Marty, "Les Jeux de plein air", 1913, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
A.E. Marty, “Les Jeux de plein air”, 1913, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Georges Barbier, "Un peu...", 1913, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Georges Barbier, “Un peu…”, 1913, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Charles Martin, "Et oui voici mon coeur", 1920, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Charles Martin, “Et oui voici mon coeur”, 1920, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art

Editor Lucien Vogel employed an elite cadre of artists to populate his publication’s pages.  These illustrators understood how to convey dress in detail, while simultaneously conjuring the mood and environment in which it might be worn. The pochoir technique that the journal used for its plates added luxurious depth to the images – as stencils were used to apply form and washes of colour that were applied by hand, allowing gradation in tone and brush strokes (you can see a more current version of the technique here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkXu21_fSGU ).

Pierre Brissaud, "Rentrons", 1920, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Pierre Brissaud, “Rentrons”, 1920, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Georges Lepape, "La Belle Journee", 1920, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Georges Lepape, “La Belle Journee”, 1920, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
7 A.E. Marty
A.E. Marty, “Au Loup”, 1921, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art

In its summer editions, Gazette featured illustrations that showed the ways weather, movement, activity and emotion could all be encapsulated in a rectangle of well-designed print on heavy, textured paper.  Here are a few examples for you to enjoy – and perhaps consider as summer fashion inspiration. From Georges Lepape’s 1913 cherry picker, dressed in Paul Poiret, to the minimal lines of tennis dress shown in bleached out heat in Chastel’s 1924/25 image.  This selection shows fashion illustration’s importance as a medium, and conveys the enduring appeal of the white summer dress …

Benito, "A Las Baleares", 1921, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Benito, “A Las Baleares”, 1921, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Chastel, "Sur La Terrasse", 1924, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art
Chastel, “Sur La Terrasse”, 1924, All images History of Dress Collections, Courtauld Institute of Art

‘You Are Dressed and Easily Undressed’: Fragments and Memories of Style by David Croland

David Croland by Judy Linn 1971
David Croland by Judy Linn 1971

#1. I really liked that you wore a silk robe to speak about Robert Mapplethorpe in the recent documentary. Could you explain why this was so important for you? And how it connected you to him? It seems like it’s about the fabric and how it feels, as well as how it looks …
The black silk chinese robe was worn for Robert.
He liked black, silk, and robes. Three out of three…
I always wore and wear robes around my place.
Usually black, but a caftan on either sex is quite the way to go also.
You are dressed and easily undressed.

#2. Are there any other garments that link you to him? Or to that period in your life?
In 1970 when Robert and I met, there was still a late 60’s vibe.
I was  in London all of 1969 as a model with Monty’s in Chelsea off
the King’s Road, an agency formerly known as English Boys Ltd. that
was started by Mark Palmer. It was more than fun working with David
Bailey, Bill King and Brian Duffy etc.
I did Mr. Fish shows. There was a great trip to Wales wearing Antony Price’s
mens collection. Antony is and was a riot of talent and fun. The razor
blade print shirt  from Mr. Fish is still with me, the rest I left in
London and Paris.
I think if one wears too much vintage after a certain age, then you
look a certain age.
Dated without a date.
Best to mix it up with new and treasured vintage bits from here and there.

#3. I loved the show you curated at Alison Jacques Gallery in 2013 – what made you decide to focus on Mapplethorpe and fashion? And how do you think jewellery design fitted into both Mapplethorpe’s and your own work?


The show at Alison Jacques in London was her idea and she asked me to
lend some of the jewelry that Robert made for me. Alison  showed some
of the early polaroids Robert did of me from 1970 and 1971. Wearing
robes, and not.
I always wore vintage pieces bought or given to me by family and friends.
The Chelsea Antique market on the King’s Road was a cool place to add
to the mix.
I wore an elaborate necklace made of black cord and silver as an every
day piece and a big black hat from Herbert Johnson with floor sweeping
black coats.
Robert always loved jewelry and it was fun to hunt around New York for
vintage stuff.
He started to make things with the bits and pieces we found and we
wore them around town. Friends such as Loulou de la Falaise, Marisa
Berenson, Halston and YSL admired and bought some for themselves and
friends.

#4. You told me you met Susan Bottomly at the opening of Paraphernalia and that it was a key moment for you – what was that night like? Were you conscious of the impact it would have on you at the time? And did your involvement with Warhol’s milieu make you more conscious of how you dressed and presented yourself?
The day I met Susan Bottomly and Andy Warhol was the start of that
life and the end of another. My school days. I was 18. I did not even
know who Andy was. He liked that. And I liked Susan. First trip. The
Cannes Film Festival to screen ‘Chelsea Girls.’ Susan and I were
supposed to be there for 2 weeks. We stayed for a year. Andy was not
too pleased about this as Susan aka ‘International Velvet’ was his
newest Superstar after Edie Sedgwick had left the scene. Paris
beckoned and we obliged. The way I dressed started early. My Mother
was a beautiful woman who wore mostly solid, dark colors. Black and
more black. My brothers and I were quite impressed. Understatement. It
cannot be overstated.

#5. Your photographs and drawings often have a sense of movement and fluidity to them – do you think your own work as a model has influenced the way you show the body?
I was a model before becoming an illustrator.
The modeling started in New York when I was 17, and took off in London
when I was 19. The Illustration also began in London. Harpers Bazaar
gave me my first jobs.
Fun stuff, full pages. lucky boy. I always looked at fashion magazines
at home as a kid. Jean Shrimpton, Veruschka and Donyale Luna were and
are my fave gals. Susan and I lived with Donyale in Paris for a while.
Donyale and I met in New York in 1965. Teenagers. These girls could
move. Richard Avedon was and is my inspiration for how it’s done. The
sense of movement and the extreme extremities influenced my work. And
play.

#6. You’ve created images of so many fascinating people, and worked with Halston and Diane von Furstenberg for example – how do you approach photographing a portrait versus presenting a fashion brand or garment?
Working with so many wonderful persons since I was very young was the
key to all the images one made and makes today.
Halston commissioned me to do portraits of many of his best friends.
Elsa Peretti, Loulou de la Falaise, Marisa and Berry Berenson, Paloma
Picasso among
others. I approach all jobs the same way. Get to know the sitter’s
likes and dislikes.
Their favorite colors, clothes. Who they were, are and would like to be.
In the portrait and in life.
The jobs for magazines and advertising are more defined. Draw this
shoe. Make the dress a bit more. Or less.

More or less?
The story of ones Life.

David Croland
New York City
5 / 17 / 16

http://www.davidcroland.net/

All photographs courtesy of David Croland.

Andy Warhol by David Croland 2015
Andy Warhol by David Croland 2015
Beauty Drawing 2015
Beauty Drawing 2015
Cannes Film Festival 1966, Gerard Malanga, Nico, Andy Warhol, Susan Bottomly, David Croland photo by Paul Morrissey
Cannes Film Festival 1966, Gerard Malanga, Nico, Andy Warhol, Susan Bottomly, David Croland photo by Paul Morrissey
David Croland and Grace Jones by Christopher Makos 1973
David Croland and Grace Jones by Christopher Makos 1973
David Croland by Brian Duffy wearing Mr Fish
David Croland by Brian Duffy wearing Mr Fish
David Croland by Brian Duffy, London
David Croland by Brian Duffy, London
David Croland by Brian Duffy
David Croland by Brian Duffy
David Croland by Robert Mapplethorpe, last portrait he took of me 1974
David Croland by Robert Mapplethorpe, last portrait he took of me 1974
David Croland in studio 1973
David Croland in studio 1973
David Croland in Wales wearing Antony Price 2
David Croland in Wales wearing Antony Price 2
David Croland in Wales wearing Antony Price
David Croland in Wales wearing Antony Price
David Croland, Susan Bottomly, Andy Warhol 1965 NYC
David Croland, Susan Bottomly, Andy Warhol 1965 NYC
Dovanna by David Croland c1977
Dovanna by David Croland c1977
Fashion Illustration 2015
Fashion Illustration 2015
Loulou de la Falaise by David Croland for Interview Magazine mid-1970s
Loulou de la Falaise by David Croland for Interview Magazine mid-1970s
Robert Mapplethorpe and David Croland by Norman Seeff
Robert Mapplethorpe and David Croland by Norman Seeff
Robert Mapplethorpe by David Croland 1971
Robert Mapplethorpe by David Croland 1971

 

All photographs courtesy of David Croland.