fashion

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Fashion That Changed the World: excerpt

Posted on 18th October 2014

fashionthatchanged

The introduction from Fashion That Changed the World, which publishes October 25, 2014.

Two people sitting in a café or restaurant, wittily speculating on the life stories of other patrons: it’s a cinematic trope that may or may not be a real people-watching game. But it certainly has its basis in real life—we constantly make assumptions about who people are, what they do,and where they’re from simply based on the way they dress. It’s nothing new, either. Four hundred years ago, society’s fashion biases prompted Shakespeare to include in Hamlet this piece of advice in Polonius’s famous speech to his son Laertes:
“Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy / But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy / For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” In other words: dress well, because people are going to judge you for it.

Of course, fashion choices are dictated by more than just the desire to look good. Our wardrobes reflect a lot about us: what country we live in, how much money we make, what society expects from us. In this way, it’s easy to read history through fashion. As time passes, situations change: the world economy booms and busts, empires rise and fall, wars flare up, technology advances, culture becomes more or less conservative. All of these things affect the way people dress. Clothing becomes more or less ornate, uniforms turn into streetwear, trends spread at different speeds, hemlines rise and fall. Possibly more than any other cultural artifact, fashion is a sensitive measure of what’s going on in society at the time, and a widely inclusive one, too—unlike art, which is only pursued by a few, or even democratic voting, which captures a disappointing percentage of public sentiment, fashion is a system that everybody takes part in. Everyone, after all, wears clothes.

But fashion isn’t simply about blending in with the people around us; it’s also about self-identity, and it’s very much about choice. Beyond simply revealing who we are, fashion allows us to declare who we want to be. Through fashion, people rebel, challenge assumptions about their station in life, or traverse boundaries set by class, race, or gender, all by simply grabbing something different from the closet in the morning. Many fashion trends have sprung from individualistic or rebellious sartorial choices, and over time those trends have become the norm—giving future generations new ideals to either accept or reject.

Fashion That Changed the World digs into a multitude of social, economic, and cultural factors that
have pushed fashion this way and that over the last few hundred years. Mostly covering the era from
the Industrial Revolution onward, when the modern fashion industry took shape, this book considers a wide range of influences on fashion, including wars, sports, gender politics, media, culture, and entertainment. Over twenty concise chapters, it offers a historical snapshot of what we used to wear, and why we choose the clothes that we do today.

Excerpted from Fashion That Changed the World by Jennifer Croll, published by Prestel.

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Women in Clothes Vancouver Launch

Posted on 9th October 2014

Women in Clothes Vancouver launch

Organizer Doretta Lau holds up a copy of the book. Photo by Vera Poliakova.

Over the month of September, I was meeting regularly with Doretta Lau, Jaclyn Bruneau, and Zoe Welch to plan a party: the Vancouver launch of Women in Clothes, a truly eclectic and insightful book about women’s relationship to style, to which we all contributed.

The panel, with Jaclyn Bruneau hosting. Photo by Angela Fama.

The panel, with Jaclyn Bruneau hosting. Photo by Angela Fama.

We rounded up a panel of interesting and stylish local women (Mina Shum, Joy Pecknold, Alex Quicho and Cynara Geissler), a bookseller (Kim from The Paper Hound), a photographer (Angela Fama) and a venue (Cavalier jewelers). We chose a date (September 29.) We told people to come ready to talk about clothes, and to bring an item with a story attached to it to swap.

Swap stories. Photo by Angela Fama.

Swap stories. Photo by Angela Fama.

After all that work, I’m so glad we did it. It was so awesome to see such a great bunch of people gather together and connect over stories, clothes, and a little bit of wine.

The happy crowd. Photo by Angela Fama.

The happy crowd. Photo by Angela Fama.

You can find a full photo gallery from the event here.

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Women in Clothes

Posted on 26th August 2014

Women in Clothes

So, this is fun: I participated in the book Women in Clothes, a book synthesized from in-depth questionnaires filled out by tons and tons of (okay, 639) women. I was one of the chosen 639. You can find my answers inside the book, which is out in September—or in the September issue of Glamour, which excerpted some of the book, including my little blurb about my mom. It’s on page 351, if you’re looking.

WIC3

WIC5

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Grace: A Memoir

Posted on 28th November 2012


A lot of people “discovered” Grace Coddington after watching The September Issue, R.J. Cutler’s documentary about Vogue’s big fall-fashion issue in 2007. As creative director of the magazine, Coddington charmed audiences with her imaginative, idealistic fashion stories, her spirited resistance to editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s whims, and her magnificently poofy mane of orange hair.

Coddington’s resulting fame spurred the publication of Grace, her new memoir. But as the book shows, Coddington was truly discovered more than 50 years ago, and hasn’t taken a break since.

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Kitsune

Posted on 13th November 2011

Kitsune

French Connection
Kitsuné’s mix of music and fashion heads for North America

There’s a natural chemistry between music and fashion, whether on the runway or in the nightclub. And no label fuses the two more seamlessly than France’s Kitsuné, a creative partnership known as much for breaking buzz bands through its record label as dressing trendsetters in its fashion line. As the fashion arm of the label plans its expansion into North America for 2011, The Block had a chat with Kitsuné’s founders, Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki.

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Christian Joy

Posted on 13th November 2011

Christian Joy

When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs take the stage, there’s only one thing that can distract from Karen O’s full-throated wail: her costumes. Brightly-coloured and wildly imaginative, by turns they transform Karen into a high-fashion dominatrix, an alien, an ancient Egyptian, and something that could easily be a vision of Little Bo Beep on strong psychedelic drugs. And by now, everyone knows that the girl in charge of this particularly riveting game of dress-up is Brooklyn-based designer Christian Joy.

The Block was lucky to get a chance to hang out with 36-year-old CJ at her Greenpoint studio and snap some shots of her costumes. Once the photos came back, we called up CJ to have a little chat about her life and work.