February 4, 2011

Another blog: Of Another Fashion

I just wanted to spread the word on one of my favorite new tumblr blogs. It's called Of Another Fashion, and appeals to my sensibilities not least because of my nerdy love of historical documentation of culture and interest in work that challenges the dominant, watered down and whitewashed version of history most of us who went to public school suffered through without learning much.

It's written by Minh-Ha T. Pham, "an academic whose research interests include fashion, gender, and labor in the Web 2.0 economy." Pham also writes collaboratively with Mimi Thi Nguyen over at the more in-depth fashion/culture/history/politics/theory blog threadbared.

She describes her purpose as such in a recent interview:
The exhibition and the blog are more specifically responses to the curatorial and critical neglect of the sartorial histories of women of color...Of Another Fashion intends to remedy this historical amnesia... 

So far, these have been some of my favorites:
Howard University flappers at a football game, circa 1920s.

This is from when the Sartorialist ran a vintage photo contest a while back. Of Another Fashion points out that the series featured only 3 images of people of color. 

Model Charlotte Stribling a.k.a “Fabulous” at a Harlem fashion show at the Abyssinian Church, 1950.

Studying in a WWII Japanese internment camp, by Ansel Adams.

 From a feature on the "androgynous" look, from Ebony in the 1960s. 

Of Another Fashion has regularly featured contemporary adaptations and Native American designers who incorporate traditional design and fabric-making techniques. 

The interview at PSFK givea a bit more background about what is meant by this "historical amnesia," which is reflected in some of these great archival finds:
...But probably the greatest discovery I’ve made so far in this curatorial project is the richness of minoritized fashion and glamour cultures that, though they existed in the margins of the U.S. cultural consciousness, have also thrived there. In my academic life, in my research on the digital fashion media complex, I’ve read a lot of fashion histories and a lot of fashion theory. And yet it was only through working on Of Another Fashion that I learned about L’tanya Griffin, a model and the first African American designer to have had an exclusive contract with a Hollywood studio in the 1950s, or about Remonia Jacobsen or Jewel Gilham, two very well established Native American fashion designers in the 1970s or about the fashion model Charlotte “Fabulous” Stribling who was Harlem’s It girl in the 1950s. I also didn’t know that fashion shows were popular activities in Japanese internment camps during World War II or that the Harlem Institute of Fashion even existed!
Together, these ads, family photos, events, and individuals are all part of the rich texture of U.S. fashion history that most fashion scholars and feminist cultural historians barely know. And what is revealed through Of Another Fashion has implications for our understanding not just of fashion history, but also our understanding of women whose everyday lives and fantasies (since we’re talking about fashion) are too often considered not important enough to document or study.
add it to your Google Reader today.


Anonymous said...

hear hear! had Mimi as an instructor - what a style cat

Stephanie said...

This is so great! I read Threadbared pretty regularly but hadn't browsed the tumblr before. Now I'm tempted to submit some photos of the women in my family...

those tricks said...

Thanks for the tip.
That's a cool blog.

minh-ha said...

thank you so much for the blog love! and to stephanie and others, please DO submit photos, garments, and whatever other materials you have that will enhance this project - this is totally a community-based project that can't happen w/o public support!

Hard Liquor, Soft Holes said...

ooooh, thanks for the info. THIS IS RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS.