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Gaultier’s clothes adopt elements of satire, visual puns and the ridiculous to critique what we wear. NGV, Brooke Holm

Jean Paul Gaultier: how to make (or bake) a blockbuster

French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier – whose designs are featured at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) until February 2015 – has always had an unsettling relationship with museum fashion exhibitions…
Tattoos, bow tie, sunglasses = Hipster. giorgiomtb

Craft beers + beards + bicycles = what? Solving hipster maths

Hipsters are so mainstream now that they’re the subject of mathematical papers. Jonathan Touboul, a mathematical neuroscientist from the Collège de France, claims to have answered one of the great mysteries…
Romance Was Born designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales join the trend for fashion exhibitions, at the NGV. Photo: Narelle Wilson

Fashion victims? How clothes took over our art galleries

Australia’s art galleries are currently enthralled by fashion. In Melbourne Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk and Express Yourself: Romance Was Born for Kids, are both at NGV; Adelaide’s…
Bras have come a long way in 100 years. EPA/HO

The story of … the bra

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the first bra patent. Amazingly for the time – 1914 – it was made by a woman in her twenties, Mary (Polly) Phelps Jacob (nee Crosby). Polly made her bra initially…

Curiosities and fragments

I recently went to heaven, aka attended a week-long conference in Oxford devoted entirely to fashion theory. I presented a paper on catwalk shows, which you’ve heard me bang on about before here (and here…
The stripe is the mark of the ordinary seaman, never of the officer.

Jean Paul Gaultier and the true history of the fashion stripe

The publicity material for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition, which opened last week at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), unsurprisingly came decked in stripes. The blue and white…

Do you know how your clothes were made?

One moment: one recent Saturday afternoon, I was sitting on the top deck of a red London bus, watching a sea of shoppers flood over Oxford Circus. The cream of the British high street have their flagship…

Please un-do ‘booty’ pop videos

Dear Music Industrial Complex, Do you mind if I call you Mic? I normally don’t write about pop music, but I am upset. I know that sex sells, but may I make a special request of no more music videos consisting…
Chanel Autumn/Winter 2014 glorifies the everyday. Christopher Karaba/EPA

Normcore: when being ordinary becomes a fashion statement

Putting together words like normal and fashion feels like a contradiction, but that’s exactly what Gap is doing with its autumn/winter 2014 advertising campaign, called Dress Normal. It makes a virtue…
Horst directing fashion shoot with Lisa Fonssagrives. Photo by Roy Stevens /Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

Horst fashion photography seamlessly blends art and commerce

Fashion photography conjures together dress and body to create images that aim to seduce. On the cusp between art and commerce, this apparent dichotomy meant the genre only became a gallery staple in the…
The veil serves to entice and intrigue and not necessarily to hide. Faizal Riza MOHD RAF

The big players in the growth of Islamic fashion online

Islamic veiling is a global political issue and the debate tends to move in two different directions: it’s framed as either a matter of the freedom of female self-expression or as emblematic of gender…
Bundling socks, ‘War Chest’ Sock Appeal, Sydney, May 1917, photographer G. A. Hills. State Library of NSW

One million pairs of socks: knitting for victory in the first world war

During the first world war in Australia there was a restriction of styles of clothing available to both men and women because of shortages in fabrics. Everyday dress became more sombre due to a lack of…
World War I uniform supplier Burberry’s more recent incarnation. EPA/Matteo Bazzi

From the Somme to the catwalk: the story of the trench coat

The words “trench coat” might make you think of a stylish, clean, unisex jacket. That feeling of exchanging your heavy winter coat for smart belted beige, striding down the street in springtime. Or perhaps…

On the delight of fashion words

While sometimes I teem with opinions jostling to be exercised over the page, at other times I’m drawn into meditation, where my engagement with the happenings, and the actual materiality, of fashion loosens…

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