Garden lighting.

Outdoor lighting.

Darkness is moving in so fast it’s scary. On the positive side, it’s an excuse to turn on the light. Indoors and outdoors. Bought this lamp (made for outdoor conditions) as I thought it was a bit different and fun. Then I realised it has the secondary affect of making my garden look like an outdoor lounge … I quite liked that.

Two sisters.

Two sisters.

Fascinating photo of two sisters taken in a rural area of Sweden in the early 1930s. Both are dressed in blackish garments – but that is where the similiarities end.

To the left is what look like the older sister. Wearing a hat, long rather blingy necklace with a tassel, a dress with cape collar, long sleeves with buttoned cuffs and what looks like a piping decorated belt at the natural waist. Light stockings and strap court shoes.

To the right the younger sister. Same colour on her dress and almost exactly the same length on the skirt. Otherwise austerity. Trumpet sleeves, dropped-waist line (with something hanging from it), a small brooch just below the collar. Black stockings and black court shoes.

Difference in dress describing difference in personality?

The boy in the back is having a good laugh …

Source. Digitalt Museum.

No glamour fashion.

Husqvarna Fashion Show 1960

A scene from Husqvarna, Sweden on 28 April 1960. A model is catwalking down an aisle showing off the latest (presumably) Spring/Summer fashion. Glamour is not a keyword. More a matter of keeping it VERY simple.

I look at her clogs and think of Christopher Kane’s SS17 fashion show heavily featuring the use of Crocs. Perhaps he found inspiration in this pic?

Photo courtesy of Digitalt Museum.


Blockbuster fashion @ museums.

Jeanette Johansson

Been to a blockbuster museum fashion exhibition recently? There’s no shortage … Did you attend to take in glamour, beauty and at the same time working the grey matter, learning something new? Departing feeling you had a satisfactory fashion fix in combo with that warm glow of having had a cultivated experience?

Congratulations – you had just successfully been sucked into a fashion conspiracy.

Went to a seminar the other day entitled ‘Fashion in Museums’, conducted by Marie Riegels Melchior. My outlook on fashion in art museums has not been the same since.

MRB is Assistant Professor at the University of Copenhagen as well as assitant curator at Designmuseum Denmark. At the abovementioned seminar she describes the evolution of dress displays in art museums.

Her argument is that in the beginning there was “dress museology”. In the early 20th century it was acceptable by art museums to collect high quality textiles. By the 1930s the musems had broadened their horizon and started collecting dress items made from high quality fabrics. From there the next step towards collecting dress because of exceptional cut and style was not a big one. The focus was on design and aesthetic values rather than a social and cultural context.

The interest in fashion in museums grew in the 1960s and 1970s. Not least because of the involvement of big fashion names such as Cecil Beaton and Diana Vreeland in the curatorship of high-profile exhibitions. Additionally this era was characterised by a creative revolution in popular culture further contributing to an increased recognition of fashion as an important part of cultural heritage.

MRB claims that it was during this period that fashion in museums entered a phase of ‘fashion museuology’.

Front-stage display of fashion was shaped and inpsired by the experience of commercial fashion shows, the styling of fashion editorials, focusing less on the actual piece of clothing and more on the creation of a visual imression, a narrative to engage and evoke the feelings of the visitor.

By the early noughties fashion had become a strategic focus for museum management teams.

What are the key factors explaining the rise of blockbuster fashion exhibitions?

The number one factor is that fashion is in fashion. Musems are on the popular bandwagon – it has boosted their profile making them appear livelier and more eye-catching places to visit. Leading to the issue of money. Musems are often the victims of cuts in relevant funding. Naturally making them look elsewhere for other options. Interestingly, it is not the income from high-profile fashion exhibitions per se that provide most value. Rather it’s the media exposure it generates, making the museum reach new audiences who might not otherwise be lured by museum vibes.

Is there a problem with these developments? Obviously there is – MRB is pointing particularly at the receding importance of the scholarship aspect. Furthermore there is the shift of the balance of power when outside “collaborators” get involved. For example, a high-profile exhibition like Vogue 100: A century of style exhibition recently held at the National Gallery in London was curated by man appointed by the publishing house Condé Nast, not the National Gallery. A case of a respected cultural institution hijacked by a corporate giant in a grand gesture of self-promotion?

Flashy fashion exhibitions are furthermore taking a toll on dress handling stipulated by guidelines issued by the Costume Committee’s Guidelines for Costumes. It also affects a museum’s willingness to collect dress as items are now frequently borrowed from other museums for temporary exhibitions.

I recommend reading “Fashion and Museums: Theory and Practice” by Marie Riegels Melchior and Birgitta Svensson for the full lowdown on an intriguing subject.



Female outlook on fashion.

Jeanette Johansson.

Two youngish women write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. What?! Must be something important going on – as we all know young people avoid newsPAPERS like the plague.

Indeed. The young women think the local shopping market lacks a sufficient amount of fashion concept and flagship stores. Can they have some more, please? (Fast) fashion shopping is the new religion.

In a different newspaper (in the same town) another woman talks about fashion. Of a certain age, she never visits the local fashion stores as she thinks they offer nothing outstanding. Instead she prefers second hand shops. In her view the only places that offer dress a bit different. As a grooming professional she struggles to comprehend today’s insatiable desire to shop, shop, shop, preferring quality before quantity.


A heel observation.

A heel observation.  Jeanette Johansson.

Both heels are 5 cm high, putting them in the kitten heel category. But here the important issue is not the height of the heel but the silhouette. One is chunky, very comfortable, very practical. Cute, school girl style.

The other 5 cm heel, however, is all adult. Stiletto in shape, it’s chic, sophisticated and highly feminine.

Just a heel thought really.

White on the beach.

white on the beach

Walked past a shop here in Biarritz that was only selling white (female) fashion. Thought to myself it was a tad one dimensional. Then again, why not? With a bit of a tan everyone looks good in white. Even though it’s certainly not the most practical colour.

The beach and white combo was appreciated a long time ago.  This photo was taken some time in the late 19th century in Biarritz. By then rich people had adopted white as their favourite leisure colour. White is high-maintenance, separating the wealthy from “lesser” people who had no time/money for non-practical.

Against that background and judging by the standard of clothing, it’s reasonable to presume that this mother and daughter enjoying (?) a day on the Grand Plage in Biarritz are well-to-do people.

Source: Musée Historique de Biarritz.


1920s elegance.

Cloched hat.

This lady featured in the film I mentioned shown at the Balenciaga museum. To me she epitomises 1920s style in a highly exclusive, chic and fashionable manner. She carries off the tight fitting cloche hat look uberelegantly, a small dart of jet black hair indicating that underneath there’s the obligatory Louise Brooks’ bobbed haircut.