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Analysis and Comment (45)

A utilitarian, no-waste ethos was at the heart of Stepanova’s fashion and design ideas. A utilitarian, no-waste ethos was at the heart of Stepanova’s fashion and design ideas. Designs by Stepanova in LEF magazine, 1923.

Sublime design: Varvara Stepanova’s unisex sports uniform

A peculiar thing happened in Russia in the early 1920s. Abstract art, often considered the pinnacle of elitism and high art, was instead employed by artists as a testing ground for ideas that promised…

VIDEO: The future of wearable technologies

Wearable technologies currently exist in two spaces – as conceptual pieces by artists and designers, and as engineering-driven wearable products that are taken to market. But, as Danielle Wilde explains…
Still Armani. Still Armani. EPA/Daniel dal Zennaro

Giorgio Armani: 80, the new 40

With 3,000 employees, 2,473 points of sale, seven different fashion and furniture labels (to say nothing of his makeup, skincare, chocolate and flower lines), 16 cafés and restaurants, two hotels, a basketball…
Chillin'. Chillin'.

Summer resort wear: from boaters to bikinis

This year’s summer resort wear collections have received lukewarm press, and have seen the whole idea of resort collections thrown into question. Writing in the New York Times, Vanessa Friedman described…
The Vivienne Westwood air hostess. The Vivienne Westwood air hostess. Virgin Atlantic

Can Vivienne Westwood’s new Virgin look spark a runway revolution?

Vivienne Westwood has launched new uniform designs for Virgin Atlantic. It’s sure to test whether the airline can remain competitive whilst crafting a progressive image: there’s a fine line between style…
‘We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.’ ‘We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.’ AAP Image/David Crosling

The story of … the supermodel

Women, fashion, and glamour are synonymous in the modern era – but in the mid to late 1980s this association intensified into one distinct cultural icon: the supermodel. While highly professional models…
22ct Gold Jewel Beetle Brooch by Shaun Leane. 22ct Gold Jewel Beetle Brooch by Shaun Leane. Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio

Butterflies, beetles and the fashion jewellery renaissance

While jewellery and fashion have long been entwined, in the mid-1990s, both costume and fine jewellery lacked innovation. They were caught in a no man’s land of mass-produced chain-store brands, and failed…
Whether fashionable or functional, the handbag – and what it contains – is intensely personal. Whether fashionable or functional, the handbag – and what it contains – is intensely personal. The Chanel 2.55, Wikimedia Commons

The story of … the handbag

Under attack from a flock of killer crows, Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller The Birds, pauses to collect her handbag. It’s an instinctive gesture that many women would recognise. For a…
The Beatles' bright costumes can be seen as cheeky nostalgia for an empire in decline. The Beatles' bright costumes can be seen as cheeky nostalgia for an empire in decline. Jeremy Chan

The story of … the military jacket

Fashion and war don’t seem an obvious pairing, but the military jacket is a fashion staple. It may take the form of a double-breasted dress uniform with brass buttons and epaulettes, trimmed in rock star…
Wearing tweed evokes a complex history spanning fashion, class and gender politics. Wearing tweed evokes a complex history spanning fashion, class and gender politics. JoePhilipson

The story of … tweed

Tweed is a mainstay of traditional tailoring; it is the cloth of royalty and aristocracy, fly-fishers and deerstalkers, bespectacled academics, Doctor Whos, fictional detectives, politicians and leaders…
Alexander McQueen’s savage version of beauty. Alexander McQueen’s savage version of beauty. Paul Vicente/ AFP/ Alexander McQueen RTW A/W 1998/ Getty Images

Savage Beauty: the catwalk conquers museums as fashion becomes ultimate spectacle

Savage Beauty – New York’s Metropolitian Museum’s wildly popular 2011 Alexander McQueen exhibition – is coming to London’s V&A in 2015. Excited? Bought your ticket already? Well you should, because…
Louise Wilson died on May 16, aged 52. Louise Wilson died on May 16, aged 52. Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

Louise Wilson was a formidable, passionate force in fashion

The news that Louise Wilson has died held particular force for me, as someone who worked with her for ten years. She was the head of MA fashion at Central Saint Martins School of Art (CSM), and someone…
The influence of the white dress shirt can be traced back to the Victorian era. The influence of the white dress shirt can be traced back to the Victorian era. Ross

The story of … the men’s white shirt

The classic white dress shirt is familiar and omnipresent in men’s fashion. As a result, we tend to be unaware that for more than 200 years this singular item of apparel, which is essentially unadulterated…
By the 1830s, fortunately for beaver populations, beaver pelt became démodé as the silk top hat appeared. By the 1830s, fortunately for beaver populations, beaver pelt became démodé as the silk top hat appeared. Paul Stevenson

The story of … the top hat

If you had to tell the story of one item or phenomenon in fashion, what would it be? See the end for information on how to get involved. Throughout the 19th century, the top hat was a mainstay of Victorian…
Pale grey slashed chiffon dress designed by Gareth Pugh, veil by Stephen Jones. Pale grey slashed chiffon dress designed by Gareth Pugh, veil by Stephen Jones. © Amy Gwatkin

The wedding dress: from Queen Victoria to the heights of fashion

Queen Victoria, writing in her journal on the day of her wedding to Prince Albert, noted: Slept well & breakfasted at 1⁄2p. 9, before which Mama came, bringing me a nosegay of orange flowers … Had…
Not regulation… Not regulation… Fearless Stumbler

Current crafts craze echoes World War I knitting projects

The rise of stitch and knit clubs, guerrilla knitting, yarn bombing and calls to knit sweaters for oil-spill affected penguins have all drawn attention to craft as a force for social change. Knitting is…
Desert Designs showcase their unique aesthetic in Sydney this week. Desert Designs showcase their unique aesthetic in Sydney this week. Ryan Kitching

A hot new model at the Australian Indigenous Fashion Week

It’s not difficult to find reference to Indigenous ethnographic designs in contemporary Australia. Motifs from Adelaide’s Balarinji Design Studios coat Qantas' Boeing fleet and elders wore Victorian possum…
These boots weren’t made for walking. These boots weren’t made for walking. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Inside the V&A’s celebration of high-end Italian luxury and glamour

What do you think of when Italian fashion is mentioned? Versace’s shiny, gold Medusa-head logo? Armani’s sleek, unstructured tailoring? Prada’s textural, ladylike sportswear? Or maybe Jeremy Scott’s recent…
How is this not a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes? How is this not a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes? Image courtesy Adele Varcoe

Imagining Chanel, or naked women on a catwalk?

Fashion can be a multitude of things, from a business to an art to an attitude. But one thing is constant: the experience of the body in space and time. But what about a body dressed only by our imagination…
Models wear designs from the David Jones label at the 2014 Melbourne Fashion Festival. Models wear designs from the David Jones label at the 2014 Melbourne Fashion Festival. Joe Castro/AAP Image

Peeking under the clothes at the Melbourne Fashion Festival

If you wear clothes – and most of us do – there will be an event, exhibition or activity at this week’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) – which started on Monday – that will intrigue…
We can now grow clothing using bacteria. We can now grow clothing using bacteria. © Biocouture Ltd. 2014, BioRuff, Photography by Santiago Arribas

Fashioning science: the next revolution in wearables

Fashion has been slow to engage with wearable technologies, but this is all changing very quickly, now extending beyond digital technologies to cutting-edge fashion and science collaborations. This Thursday…
The red carpet has become synonymous with fashion triumphs … and disasters. The red carpet has become synonymous with fashion triumphs … and disasters. Daniel Deme/AAP

She wore what? How to read the Oscars fashion script

“She wore what‽” From the fashion commentary on the red carpet to the supermarket checkout, the 2014 Oscars fashion script will be no different at the 86th Academy Awards this weekend. But what we can…
Apparently the tuxedo was first worn in the New York Tuxedo Club. Apparently the tuxedo was first worn in the New York Tuxedo Club. Mike Nelson/AAP

And the best penguin Oscar … a closer look at the tuxedo

The women on the red carpet garner so much attention on Oscars night it can be easy to overlook the men. Even the title given to the required dress code - “black tie” – is deceptive. What indicates to…
It’s a physical struggle in these skirts, but we always shop in store. It’s a physical struggle in these skirts, but we always shop in store. Haute Couture News

Chanel opts out of fashion’s love affair with online shopping

In the world of luxury fashion, Chanel stands apart from the crowd. But it’s not the designs that make it different. The French luxury brand is one of the last few major labels that does not sell its clothes…
Jazzy trousers. Jazzy trousers. Wong Maye-E/AP

Fashion at Sochi: who wears it best?

So, your country is one of 88 participating in the Winter Olympics in Sochi 2014. How do you get noticed? The winter games may not get as much coverage as the those in the summer, so fashion is used as…
Fashion both on and off the catwalk. Fashion both on and off the catwalk. Jonathan Short/AP

Fashion bloggers force journalists to up their game

As London Fashion Week wows the front rows, the bloggers are in focus again. These style mavens are now a fixture of our fashion weeks. They have caught the imaginations of photographers – often bloggers…
Futuristic fashion at London Fashion Week. Futuristic fashion at London Fashion Week. Jonathan Brady/PA

New technology could spell the end of the size zero model

As I look out of the window of my office at Somerset House, I can see the Fashion Week tent dominating the courtyard. This temporary structure combines fashion’s ephemeral nature with a steely efficiency…
Students at last February’s London Fashion Week. Students at last February’s London Fashion Week. SUARTS

Rely on unpaid interns and fashion will fall apart at the seams

It is often said that, without interns, London Fashion Week wouldn’t run at all. At last year’s edition of the event, representatives from this usually invisible workforce made an appearance, demonstrating…
Good morning America! Good morning America! Wikimedia Commons

All hail Beatlemania – when culture crossed the pond

Fifty years after the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, the band is still the benchmark for Anglo-American relations. With their swift rise to fame in the US, they started the so-called British…
This season, it’s all about the jacket for Watson. This season, it’s all about the jacket for Watson. BBC

BBC’s modern Sherlock owes his success to pure Victoriana

The third season of the BBC’s Sherlock opens with a bang and gives us Derren Brown, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock in an action hero window smash, followed by an insouciant hair tousle and a Hollywood…
The ACMI Hollywood Exhibition – just one of many fashion-focussed gallery shows this year. The ACMI Hollywood Exhibition – just one of many fashion-focussed gallery shows this year. Mark Inducil

Fashion cuts a dash in Australian galleries – but is it art?

All year, the Australian fashion industry has been making the wrong sort of headlines. There have been boardroom shenanigans, empty shop fronts and retail woes. Of course, the news hasn’t been all bad…
What effect will the new uniform have on the Qantas workforce? What effect will the new uniform have on the Qantas workforce? Qantas

Goodbye Australiana, hello world: the new Qantas uniforms

It’s hard to imagine it today, but once people would put down their newspapers to stop and stare at young women as they strolled through airport terminals wearing figure-hugging suits, the half-winged…
A soft-toned purple – just in time for Christmas. A soft-toned purple – just in time for Christmas. Stephen Dobson Photography

Meet Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s Colour of the Year

US colour swatch giant Pantone has picked a soft, rosy purple by the name of Radiant Orchid as the colour of 2014, displacing their 2013 choice, Emerald Green. According to Pantone marketing-speak the…
For some consumers, if it looks real, it is real. For some consumers, if it looks real, it is real. SimonQ錫濛譙

Is that real Prada? uFaker app makes IP detectives of us all

The age of the app has collided with the era of fake designer goods. Firms are now using social media and crowdsourcing to keep track of their intellectual property, but may still struggle in a world where…
RMIT Graduate Sharlee Young’s Collection, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week 2012. RMIT Graduate Sharlee Young’s Collection, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week 2012. Monty Coles

Global shift: Australian fashion’s coming of age

Fifty years ago, the notion of Australian fashion may have been regarded as an oxymoron. This is not a critique of Australians' capacity to be intrinsically stylish, as there is plenty of evidence to reflect…
David Jones plans to reinforce its position as a high-end retailer by downsizing stores and focusing on customer service. David Jones plans to reinforce its position as a high-end retailer by downsizing stores and focusing on customer service. AAP

From little things big things grow: what’s in store for DJ’s strategy?

The recent proclamation by David Jones CEO Paul Zahra that traditional department stores are likely to become smaller, fashion-focused and devoid of low-margin items reflects the various competitive influences…
It’s the end of the runway for Nicole. It’s the end of the runway for Nicole. jaimelondonboy

Nicole Farhi struggles as fashion industry consolidates

High-end fashion label Nicole Farhi has called in the administrators. Restructuring specialists Zolfo Cooper are looking for a buyer, while property consultants are wondering what to do with the firm’s…
Social conventions stemming from the marketing of washing product companies means we wash our clothes more than we need to. Social conventions stemming from the marketing of washing product companies means we wash our clothes more than we need to. Jackson Boyle

The dirt on clothes: why washing less is more sustainable

If you’re worried about dressing ethically, chances are you think about sweatshop conditions in developing countries, unsustainable farming practices, convoluted global supply chains that ring up a huge…
You’re no more likely to lose heat from your head than other parts of your body – except your hands and feet. You’re no more likely to lose heat from your head than other parts of your body – except your hands and feet. Taylor Mackenzie

Monday’s medical myth: you lose most heat through your head

As the weather starts to cool down and winter clothes enter rotation in our wardrobes, some peculiar combinations emerge: shorts and scarves; thongs and jackets; T-shirts and beanies. The last is often…
Former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown has passed away aged 90. Former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown has passed away aged 90. Hearst Corporation

Death of an editor: vale Helen Gurley Brown

The opening round of respectful tributes have been flowing through the media after the death of Helen Gurley Brown. The original Sex and the City girl died in New York on Monday, aged 90. Long-reigning…
Fad fashion has never had it so good… but the fast fashion trend comes at a cost. Fad fashion has never had it so good… but the fast fashion trend comes at a cost. AAP

Counting the cost of fast fashion

There’s a polyester mullet skirt gracing a derrière near you. It’s short at the front, long at the back, and it’s also known as the hi-lo skirt. Like fads that preceded it, the mullet skirt has a short…
Serena Williams unveils her 2012 Australian Open outfit at Melbourne’s Federation Square. Serena Williams unveils her 2012 Australian Open outfit at Melbourne’s Federation Square. AAP/Julian Smith

What will Serena wear next? Sport and fashion at the Australian Open

Serena Williams creates a stir in the crowd. There is a buzz in the stadium as she is expected to emerge from the rooms out to the net. The excitement is not related to her skill, talent or professionalism…
Growing a moustache isn’t simply about the style. It could help you win friends and influence people abroad. Growing a moustache isn’t simply about the style. It could help you win friends and influence people abroad. AFP/Wildbird

Going beyond Movember: Facial hair and foreign affairs

You may notice more than a few of your friends and colleagues are a little more hirsute than normal this month. The annual charity event Movember encourages men to grow moustaches to raise money and awareness…

Research Briefs (1)