About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.

Queen’s Gambit fashion fail…

I have had several people tell me that I have to see Queen’s Gambit because the clothing is so wonderful. Well, I took a look, and I have to say that although the clothing may be styled well, authenticity to period was nearly completely absent. I suspect the costumer picked clothing styles she felt expressed the characters, just not in the appropriate period. The three outfits pictured below are worn by the main character in 1966 – but they look more like 1956 – and before I get comments about how people wear clothes that aren’t brand new, it didn’t work that way in the 1960s. How many people do you know are walking around with a flip phone with an antenna? Technology is more prone to fashion than fashion is these days, but in 1966, fashion was in fashion, and wearing vintage academically correct, or even ironically, wasn’t a thing yet in 1966. So sorry, but Queen’s Gambit gets a 3/10 for the costuming…

My blog may disappear….

I am having problems with my host (Hostpapa) right now who say I have all sorts of things I need to fix but I am not a techy person. Their request (see below) might as well be written in Chinese because I don’t understand what they are saying… I tried doing some of the things they recommended but nothing worked as the instructions said, and in the process I eliminated about 300 of my subscribers because I thought they were spambots…

I started this blog 12 years ago, and it was simple, and easy… and its not anymore, and its also expensive. This blog costs me $400 per year and every three months there is some issue I have to attend to that isn’t my fault, but it always seems to cost me more money and time to try to fix. Hostpapa has already shut this blog down last week because I didn’t respond to them within 48 hours (BECAUSE I HAVE A REAL LIFE WITH REAL DEADLINES…) So, if this blog disappears, you will know why….

Here is what they said I need to do — if anyone can explain what they are asking me to do in English, let me know.:

Here is the detailed information
***** (100%) Primary Domain: kickshawproductions.com (Hits: 153813 Uniques:
6254) ***
– Hits Per Day —
1 October  9388  |  2 October  9206  |  3 October  10997
4 October  8789  |  5 October  8295  |  6 October  8018
7 October  7944  |  8 October  12037  |  9 October  11177
10 October  7554  |  11 October  12955  |  12 October  11459
13 October  12230  |  14 October  11722  |  15 October  12042

— Top IPs —
  15014 68.169.78.5
  13895 45.76.209.210
  12643 92.61.241.152
  10903 92.61.244.5
   8589 76.9.19.12
   4610 149.28.133.241
   3421 66.230.162.7
   1595 64.188.55.53
   1525 93.158.90.82
   1439 74.12.102.152

— Top Accessed Content/Files —
  48398 /blog/
  24634 /favicon.ico
  13097 /blog//xmlrpc.php
   3821 /robots.txt
   3718 /blog/wp-includes/css/dist/block-library/style.min.css
   3652 /blog/wp-includes/css/dist/block-library/theme.min.css
   3587 /blog/wp-includes/js/wp-emoji-release.min.js
   2520 /cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi
   2200 /
   2152 /blog

— Top Bot Hits —
  19113 http://www.bing.com/bingbot.htm
   5784 http://www.google.com/bot.html
   4639 https://aspiegel.com/petalbot
   3966 http://ahrefs.com/robot/
   2684 http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/dotbothelp@moz.com
   2044 http://webmeup-crawler.com/
   2031 http://www.pinterest.com/bot.html
   1013 https://babbar.tech/crawler
    953 http://mj12bot.com/
    811 http://www.brandwatch.net

Recommendations:

– You should review the top IPs above and filter your traffic and eliminate
malicious requests. Confront the IP list above with known abuser databases at
stopforumspam.com and projecthoneypot.org. Block all IPs showing there inside
cPanel – IP Blocker. You can block IPs using this guide:
https://hostpapasupport.com/block-ip-address-accessing-website/

– For bots, I recommend lowering the frequency for Bing to crawl your websites
https://www.bing.com/webmaster/help/crawl-control-55a30302

– I see a lot of requests to admin-ajax.php which means you’re being affected by
the WordPress Heartbeat api. In order to fix this we suggest you to install the
following plugin : https://wordpress.org/plugins/heartbeat-control/ . Here are
the steps: https://hostpapasupport.com/wordpress-heartbeat-configure/

– I see noticeable requests to wp-cron.php. You can easily control this by
following the steps here:
https://hostpapasupport.com/replace-wordpress-cron-real-cronjob/

– There are requests to your xmlrpc.php. If you’re not using any software which
uses xmlrpc.php to connect to your WordPress you can use this plugin to prevent
requests to it: https://wordpress.org/plugins/stop-xmlrpc-attack/

– Using a caching plugin on your website is one of the best ways to ensure your
website loads faster and uses less resources. I recommend you to install a
caching plugin such as W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache:
https://hostpapasupport.com/install-set-w3-total-cache-plugin/ or
https://hostpapasupport.com/install-set-wp-super-cache-plugin/

Kenzo Takada 1939 – 2020

Kenzo Takada

Kenzo Takada was born in Himeji, Japan, on Feb. 27, 1939.  After leaving university where he was studying literature he enrolled at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. 

In 1960, Kenzo won a prize from Soen magazine and began his fashion career designing girl’s clothing for the Sanai department store. In 1964 he received ten months of rent in compensation for being evicted from his apartment block which was to be torn down for the Tokyo Olympics. With that money he travelled to Paris where he restarted his fashion career freelancing – selling sketches to designers.

In 1970 he opened a boutique called Jungle Jap (he wanted to overshadow the pejorative meaning with a positive spin). The walls of his boutique were painted in wild floral patterns and his first collection used kimono fabrics and folk wear influences from around the world in an East meets West aesthetic. In 1976 he renamed his business Kenzo. In 1977 Jerry Hall and Grace Jones were among the models who appeared in a fashion show of his clothes at Studio 54 in New York.

A men’s wear line was introduced in 1983, a jeans line followed in 1986 and in 1988, a perfume was created. Things were going well until 1993 when his life partner died and his business partner had a stroke. Kenzo sold his company to LVMH that year for approximately 80 million U.S. but stayed on as designer. In October 1999 he decided to step away from the fashion industry due to the frenetic pace and unrealistic demands ““Everything has changed, from the way we make clothes to the way information spreads and how many seasons there are now,” he complained to The South China Morning Post. The label is currently under the creative direction of Felipe Oliveira Baptista.

Kenzo focused on his art for the next 20 years, until January 2020 when he launched a lifestyle brand called K3. He died from complications from COVID-19 on October 4 at the age of 81. 

A Retort to the New York Times Article: The Incredible Whiteness of the Museum Fashion Collection

When I read the September 29 New York Times article ‘The Incredible Whiteness of the Museum Fashion Collection” by Vanessa Friedman, I felt I had to correct some of her misconceptions and generalizations about why it may seem black designers are not included in museum collections/exhibitions. Firstly, Friedman doesn’t seem to understand that, regardless of colour, fashion has always been primarily about wealth and privilege. Even when stained and frayed jeans are chic, the wealthiest among us buy designer versions for stupid amounts of money.

There are different types of museums with fashion collections, and different mandates amongst those institutions. Some collect couture and designer fashions that legitimize fashion as an art form; some have a broader spectrum and also collect everyday manufactured and brand-name clothes; some fashion collections are focussed on a specific regional history, culture, or one type of fashion or textile (shoes, hats, lace…) 

True fact – Western fashion was invented by white people. It was born from the Italian Renaissance, developed significantly under Louis XIV’s reign, and was democratized by the French and Industrial revolutions. Since 1870, fashion has come from Parisian haute couture, mass-manufactured brands, 7thavenue and other designer ready-to-wear, and independent tailors and dressmakers. There are no museums, not even those that count scores of thousands of artifacts, that have a complete representative collection of any one of these categories.

Ethnographic fashions are usually housed in different departments of museums. This is because of the curatorial expertise required to research, identify, and care for the vast amount of information needed to understand the history of dress from hundreds of global cultures. Most curators working with Western fashion probably don’t know all the meanings of the motifs that appear in Chinese embroidery, or the various dyeing techniques used by Japanese weavers, or what garments are worn by Zuni girls in the Squash blossom ceremony, or by married Dutch women in Markermeer… nor should they. Fashion is a massively huge topic and every culture has a different story.

With the exception of clothes labelled by the maker and those that came with provenances from donors, museums don’t know who made or designed most of the garments and accessories in their collection. For example, Elizabeth Keckley, who made Mary Todd Lincoln’s clothes are not labelled – it is only because of her association with the president’s wife that her story is known. Even Anne Lowe is known largely because she made Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress. These two black women worked as dressmakers and had it not been for their famous clients their identities would likely be forgotten to history, along with the millions of other independent dressmakers, tailors, shoemakers, milliners etc.

The American fashion industry didn’t even promote American designers, black or white, until World War II. It was only when American fashion was cut off from Paris that fashion journalists, in search of something to write about, began reporting on domestic fashion. Most designers until then, (and many still today) worked anonymously or behind a brand name. More information is being unearthed about these previously-unknown designers and makers, but this requires a massive undertaking of research that the internet has only made possible in the last twenty years and omissions aren’t going to be corrected overnight.

Although a few black designers are well known, like the usual triad referred to by Friedman in her article (Lowe, Burrows and Kelly) there are clothes in collections likely not identified as being by black designers because the designer’s name doesn’t appear on the label, such as Anthony Mark Hankins who was J.C. Penney’s in-store brand fashion designer for years. As well, unlike an Asian name, black names don’t always trigger racial identity. Let’s face it, unless you knew otherwise, Patrick Kelly sounds like a red-haired Irishman. There are also black designers whose work is exceedingly rare to find extant examples, such as Khadejha, whose Kanga cloth minis and maxis were displayed in the windows of Gimbels department store in 1967, and Jules Parker whose feathered swimwear and metal breastplates were featured in a Jet magazine article in 1974.

Since Stephen Burrows wowed Paris alongside four other American designers at the ‘Battle of Versailles’ fashion show in 1973, black fashion designers have become more visible and numerous in the fashion industry. There are hundreds of black designers working today and their clothes will filter into museum collections in the coming years as they are offered up for donation by their current owners. Very few museums buy contemporary clothes, as limited budgets for collection purchases are saved for the rarest pieces that scarcely include anything made within the last fifty years. 

Finally, museums that have representative collections of black designers may not have those pieces on display all the time. Aside from an exhibition about black designers, is it even relevant or appropriate to tell the audience the racial background of every designer? What about their gender identity, sexual orientation, political activity or religious affiliation? Sometimes a fashion exhibition is just about clothing – its construction, ornamentation, inspiration, and beauty, not who made it. As well, Most museum exhibitions are developed with the idea that they will attract a large audience. This is why Dior has been the topic of so many exhibitions in museums around the world over the past few years. A museum about ships may have many stories, but the Titanic will always bring in the biggest crowd.

In short, museums collect primarily what they are offered and most collections simply don’t have a lot to pull from when it comes to fashions by black designers for a variety of reasons – even the Met’s Andrew Bolton combed eBay and Etsy for a particular Stephen Burrows dress for his upcoming exhibition. Friedman probably doesn’t go out of her way to buy fashions by black designers and offer them to museums for posterity but does that make her a racist?

Fashion in Song – Have you Seen Miss Molly’s New Hat? (1938)

This song was sung in Spanish by the actress Rosita Serrano in the 1938 German film Es Luechten die Sterne (The Stars Shine). The story behind the comic song comes as the result of a pancake falling out a window onto Molly’s head, and is mistaken for a new hat style. Here is a loose translation of the text in English:

Have you seen Miss Molly's 
new hat yet?
Oh, it's so chic. Oh, it's so beautiful.
But it's not a hat, it's a chapeau.
It's only available in Paris - and nowhere else.
 
Silver Molly
Wow, the rumba
With a hat, yes
 
She bought it yesterday in Paris
The mania returned
Because of your mania, your mania, your mania...
 
Silver Molly
No, no, don’t think about love anymore
 
From her land that rubber
Heaven saw the flower
No, no, no, don’t think about l'amor
Don’t think about love
 

RBG and the lace collar

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last week I didn’t memorialize her on this blog because i didn’t consider her a fashion influencer or icon. However, in the week since her death, her collars have become a symbol of feminism, justice, democracy, and revolt. Numerous articles like this one and this one have been written about her that talk about how her lace collars became a symbol of her legacy. So, with that in mind, I have to recognize Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an influencer that the fashion world lost in 2020.