When I started reading Francesca Granata’s editor’s letter in Fashion Projects No. 3, something struck me as incredibly familiar. Then I re-read my own editor Serah-Marie’s interview with artist Iris Haussler in issue 10 of WORN, an article aptly titled “Second Hand Stories.” Both writers address and assess the connection between clothing and memory – the fact that garments themselves are important vessels of personal stories, and that they can in turn tell those stories or leave them behind. The third issue of NYC-based independent magazine Fashion Projects is titled “On Fashion and Memory,” and features a series of interviews with designers, museum curators, and photographers who explore memories’ ties to fashion with their creations.
The little magazine measures only 9.5 x 6.5 inches, and with heavy pages of book-like quality, the publication’s 52 pages pack a punch. The issue begins with an introduction explaining Granata’s interest in fashion and memory and the growth of her idea to dedicate an entire issue to the topic, which stemmed from a reading of Peter Stallybrass’s “Worn Worlds: Clothes, Mourning, and the Life of Things,” in which the author remembers a late colleague through the garments he wore. Turning the pages brings the reader to three lengthy, insightfully conducted interviews, a photo essay about the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum’s Textiles Collection, a short piece on the recovery of 10,000 sweaters from the now-closed Ohio Knitting Mills, and two more interviews.
The images in the magazine are clearly numbered, and a list on almost every two-page spread concisely explains each one’s purpose and connection to the story. However, the magazine is small, and as a result, some of the images are miniscule and fill less than a quarter of a page. The images (for example, the sketches by Eugenia Yu on p. 17) would be much more effective viewed on a larger scale. Perhaps two larger images would provide more insight and detail than several smaller images that are more difficult to see.
My favourite interviews are those with Eugenia Yu, who creates sculptural fashion designs based on memories from her childhood and of her family, and Erica Weiner, a jewelry designer who explores mortality and memory with her designs, which often include old family photographs she buys by the bagful on eBay. What I appreciate about these interviews is that they, unlike many I’ve read in print and online, are quite obviously well researched and thought through. There are no “what are your favourite ___________” questions, no “tell us about your sources of inspiration.” Rather, the interviewers ask questions about specific, individual garments, the feelings behind them, and (fitting with the theme) the memories the artists wish to keep alive with their work.
The interviews in this issue of Fashion Projects tend to be quite long, and I found that my interest sometimes waned partway through an interview, especially when a little caption at the end of what seemed like a finished piece read, “continued on page 45.” That being said, the length of the interviews is not necessarily a hindrance – it allows readers a great amount of insight into the designers’ projects, which they have most likely never seen in real life. Fashion Projects does not talk down to its readers, but it informs them of things and people they ought to know. That is perhaps the most important quality of this little publication – though almost every interview is about a person many readers will never have heard of, this doesn’t make the reader feel lost or ignorant for not already knowing. I like that.
Fashion Projects Issue No. 3, 2010
Reviewed by Stephanie Fereiro