Très Click: Bill Cosby Edition

The Cosby Sweater Project
Another day, another amazing new Tumblr: The Cosby Sweater Project has photos of Bill Cosby’s iconic sweater collection and hand-drawn illustrated details of each pattern.

Is Designer Duplication A Fashion Statement?
Nathalie Atkinson confronts the problem that we’ve all noticed in fashion — the “trickle down” effect, high fashion designs showing up in low end mass market stores. How can the courts differentiate between rip-offs and simple coincidences? As Atkinson points out, “Great minds think alike — or sometimes one does, on purpose.” You can read more about the legal implications of fast fashion in Emily Raine’s article featured in the latest issue of WORN.

Clothing The “Terrifying Muslim”: Q&A With Junaid Rana
Why does the media insist on referring to clothes worn by Muslims as “garb”? Mimi Thi Nguyen interviews Junaid Rana about the racist implications of this label. Their Q&A is a truly thought-provoking discussion about how clothes are rarely ever just clothes; instead, they become “a way to racialize and establish social boundaries of who belongs here and who doesn’t.”

The Smart Set: Unfashionable
As Jessa Crispin points out, Vogue‘s lack of awareness and questionable ethics when it comes to politics are nothing new, but they are nothing less than shocking. A particularly oblivious portrait of the first lady of Syria, Asma al-Assad, raved about her chic fashion sense, her thin body, and gentle demeanor, but failed to mention the growing civil unrest in her country. Now the citizens of Syria are calling for a complete removal of President Bashar al-Assad and the profile has mysteriously disappeared from Vogue‘s website. That’s the problem with the Internet, Vogue — there’s always someone with a screenshot.

Savage Beauty: Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
I’m sure by now some of you have noticed that I am completely and totally obsessed with the McQueen exhibit at the Met, on now until July 31st. Ingrid Mida has a review with pictures that made me drool like so.

- Haley Mlotek

Book Review: Diana Vreeland

book review by Meagan Allison-Hancock
Opening the striking red-lacquered cover of Diana Vreeland, you experience a little bit of awe and admiration — quite the way I imagine you’d feel stepping into Diana Vreeland’s red-lacquered office at Vogue in the 60s. Eleanor Dwight’s biography reveals a lifetime of ambition, creativity, and eccentricity, creating an all-encompassing picture of legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland. Dwight isn’t afraid to address Vreeland’s flaws and follies, but always maintains an underlying respect for her formidable subject. She charms the reader with descriptions of Vreeland’s work ethic and the products of her creative mind. There is a certain nostalgia expressed for a time when women were charmed and inspired by Vreeland’s “Why Don’t You…” column at Harper’s Bazaar (“Why don’t you rinse your blonde child’s hair in dead champagne as they do in France?”) and by her lavish and fantastical photo spreads. Her ability to spot potential in a model and to draw out a particular pose or representation of beauty is especially praised.

While the book may be heavy on historical detail, with a tendency toward tangents, this quality also helps to contextualize Vreeland’s role in fashion history and the progress of style since the 30s. Rife with family photographs, illustrations, and portraits of the glamorous players in Vreeland’s personal and professional life, the book is a treasure trove of intimate detail and clues into the mind of one of fashion’s most enduring figures. The chapters on her youth may be dry at times, but they express Vreeland’s growing awareness of the importance of image, and her pivotal decision to carefully cultivate a distinguishing look for herself. Even as a teenager, she was wise enough to understand the implications of image yet not be deterred by her unconventional looks. One of the lasting impressions of this biography is of this very wisdom, and its role in her observations of the fashion world. Compared to trite and fleeting members of the fashion community, Vreeland is naturally ensconced there due to her intuitive understanding of the meaning of style, rather than the superficiality of trend: “A new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress.”

Surveying her role at Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and later at The Met’s Costume Institute, this biography evokes the passion, drive, and revolutionary eye of a woman who created a prominent place for herself in fashion history. You close the book feeling like you had the chance to know Vreeland, and pine for the days when Vogue really knew how to turn out original and provocative covers and photo shoots.

Diana Vreeland by Eleanor Dwight (HarperCollins, 2002)

“A Lukewarm Royalty with a Whip from Outer Space”

If you could ask Anna Wintour anything, what would it be?

Vogue’s current editor-in-chief – and subject of the upcoming documentary, The September Issue – has often been called the most important figure in the fashion world (when not being referred to as a “cold space alien”). In a year that has seen a huge downturn in the economy and an even huger uprising in online media, she is responsible for the monthly publication of Vogue, whose current issue is a 584-page fashion manifesto that will no doubt sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Like every issue, it is a collection of works by hundreds of editors, writers, photographers, advertisers, models, and designers. In other words: there are a hell of a lot of people who depend on Vogue, and consequently, Anna Wintour, for a job.

I surveyed some friends (and fellow Worn staffers) on what they would ask Wintour if they could. The answers were endless, subjects ranging from the relevance of fashion in today’s world, to what it’s like to be a professional woman in publishing, to the evolution of a trend, to the lack of diversity in Vogue. But rather predictably, her August 24th interview with David Letterman – her first media appearance since a 60 Minutes featurette last May – stuck mainly to the following points: Wintour’s reputation as an ice queen; Wintour as parodied by Meryl Streep in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada; and, of course, some banter promoting both the documentary and September 10th’s Fashion’s Night Out, a shopping event in New York City.

Perhaps my expectations were set too high. After all, a ten-minute interview on a late night talk show is hardly the proper platform to get into a weighty dissertation on the significance of fashion during economic turmoil. Yet even amid Letterman’s typical playful teasing I became frustrated with all the focus placed on Wintour’s reputation. There’s the question that has been raised by others a million times before but has never actually been discussed at length, at least not in the mainstream media: if Wintour were a man, would anybody actually care about how straightforward and abrasive she is with her staff?

For somebody who is so often caricatured as a “bitch” (the critics’ words, not mine), Wintour certainly didn’t come off as cold and soulless. She sat mildly slouched in her chair, hands shyly folded in her lap, joking about Letterman’s socks and laughing along when he asked if she’s ever put any of her staff members in a headlock. She was a bit quieter than some of his usual guests (actors and entertainers), but ultimately was a good sport who was not afraid to poke fun at herself. It made me wonder – if this was the real life incarnation of an icy dictator, how would the magazine even manage to get published with a passive editor in the hot seat?

-Anna Fitz