I’m happy to announce that Carrie Lundell will be guest blogging with us. Carrie is a blogger who has fashion sense (and heaven knows that the bloggernacle could use as much fashion sense as it can find!). Her prior bloggernacle contributions, including “What does an LDS woman wear to a cocktail party?,” have been very well received.
Carrie holds a BA in Fashion Design from BYU. She has worked as a children’s clothing designer for Rosetta Millington and for Old Navy, and she currently works as a designer for C.I. Castro, creating the “Sorbet” line of little-girl’s clothing in a job that allows flexibility for time with her family. She also does freelance styling. Carrie is married to high-powered lawyer (and budding natural law theorist) Todd Lundell, and they have one daughter, Lucy, with another daughter due on August 19th. Carrie has spent most of her church career in the Young Women’s organization. She loves Sour Patch Kids, hates cleaning her apartment, and dreams of the day when she will escape New York and return to the West.
Hi Carrie, welcome to Times & Seasons, we’re happy you’re with us!
If you have time, I’d love you to answer a question about high fashion that I’ve never received an adquate answer for, but that’s probably because I’ve never been able to ask anyone who’s studied fashion: Is fashion art? The reason I’m skeptical is because, compared to forms like painting, music and architecture, so little of fashion is timeless. People hang artwork, and listen to music, from past centuries and decades, but no one wears the fashion designs from the 19th century. Why is this so, and what does it say about fashion’s status as art?
All right Carrie! Good to see more New Yorkers on the blog.
I just wanted to clarify something before my NY friends freak out, I really don’t dream of escaping from NY. I love NY but I also love San Diego and have told Kaimi that I am jealous of his recent move there.
Very welcome, Carrie. Looking forward (esp. my wife) to contributions on fashion. But of course also other topics!
Carrie: If you don’t like New York that is just fine. It is a sign of sanity rather than apostasy. I’m sorry to hear that you are married to a lawyer. They are all jerks.
Not to steal your question from Carrie, who could probably answer it much better, but I think that you’re way off on your factual assertion. People do wear clothing from past decades, all the time. Run a search on ebay for terms like “70’s retro” in clothing/shoes, and you’ll get hundreds or thousands of hits.
Welcome Carrie. We are looking forward to your posts.
OK, Carrie, let’s get to work. What should moms wear? Knowing that I have 50% odds of getting thrown up on or peed on in any given day, it is really hard for me to justify anything that needs maintainance beyond tossing into the washing machine, dryer, and onto a hanger. At the same time, I feel vaguely sloppy living in capris and teeshirts all the time.
What should men wear to church? Assume that white shirt, suit, and tie is a given. How to make something of this without going overboard? [Not that I mind going overboard, with hats, vests, handkerchiefs, bolo ties, etc., but some people have taste]
Carrie, welcome! Your particular expertise is unique among bloggers so I look forward to your posts.
Perhaps you will offer some suggestions for women’s Sunday attire. I feel like my options are very few. I can wear a long, Eddie Bauer dress that makes me look like I’m from another century, a business suit, or a short denim skirt. None of these alternatives is particularly appealing. Thoughts? Advice? Suggestions? A new clothing line?
By the way, I’ve previously wondered who in the wide world could stomach Sour Patch Kids. Now I know.
The reason fashion is different is that it cycles while great art and music persveres. 70s clothes are popular now, but weren’t in 1995 and won’t be in 2015, but Picasso and Led Zeppelin have been consistently popular the whole time. Put another way, The Beatles’ mops might become popular again, but their music has consistently remained popular, and I’m not sure what the difference is, since they’re both aesthetics.
The cocktail party question could use more attention. We went to a wedding last Saturday. I remarked to my wife how good she looked, and she lamented to me how hard it is for an LDS woman to dress for these things. She pointed out to me (I hadn’t noticed) that only women above a certain age wore sleeves; everyone else was sleeveless.
In my wife’s case, she compensated with colors and material (light, silky stuff). It looked effortless to me, but in reality it was hard.
(Is it for sure a given that LDS women can’t wear a sleeveless dress for a night? Isn’t it like when I mow the lawn in my shorts and Calvin Klein’s? Or is it not? I suppose the difference is that a woman’s shoulders are in general more alluring than a man’s legs.)
Anyway, welcome, and I look forward to your posts.
Matt, I’m not sure how Carrie will answer your question; there might be good reasons for eschewing a loaded term like art. But I’ll just point out that the fine-art wing of fashion—the hautest of haute couture—is virtually never worn by anybody at any time, except for the performance-art occasion of the fashion show. What you see on the racks is to fine-art fashion as Thomas Kincaid is to Cezanne.
And welcome, Carrie!
(By the way, Melissa, is that really all you can find to wear to church? Eddie Bauer, denim skirts, and business suits occupy nary a corner of my closet, yet I’m fully clothed each Sunday. This season, especially, there’s a great crop of knee-length skirts. On a related note, is a knit top—a dressier t-shirt, say—ever okay for church?)
Ah, Rosalynde, you wrongly assume that I’ve been flush enough to add to my wardrobe this very season. I am not even close to being so lucky.
I don’t think a t-shirt is ever okay for church (nor do I think denim skirts are appropriate, although I like them for Saturdays).
Well dressed for church in SE Louisiana is a denim skirt, t-shirt and flip-flips. And you should see how the WOMEN dress…
No demin skirts in the closet, Rosalynde? And you call yourself a Mormon woman . . .
Your point about the commercial viability of high fashion is well taken, but that just moves the question in the direction of wondering if fashionistas still marvel over Oscar de la Renta’s Fall 1983 serran-wrap and boas collection. And of course it would be helpful if someone could explain high fashion to me in the first place — I understand and appreciate the visual arts, but I couldn’t have a lower opinion of fashion shows. If I’m missing something, I need someone to show me.
I don’t have an answer, I don’t really follow high fashion, and I’m pretty middlebrow. But let me just say…
Geoffrey Beene has brought more pleasure to my day-to-day life than Picasso or Led Zeppelin.
I’d say that fashion is akin to architecture and interior design. Stuff that interacts with space, materials and the human body in a functional (or not so functional [depending on the designer/product]) way. I don’t really care if it’s art or not.
Is it timeless?
Well as long as the body doesn’t change it’s basic structure, I’d say that the drape of a dress by Yves Saint Laurent is timeless. And some of the funky, multi-colored polo shirts by Colours by Alexander Julien that my grandfather got for me from Capwell’s Basement in the ’80s would have looked great transformed into oil and canvas.
ALSO: As I understand it (I’ve ready a few issues of Vanity Faire and read the fashion coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle), fashion is always looking back at the past — reconstructing and deconstructing prior designs. In fact, it is even more self-referential than most modern art. For whatever that’s worth.
The hanging gardens of Babylon aren’t around anymore, and no one gardens there anymore. Also, I haven’t seen any rush to emulate hanging gardens lately.
So if I’m applying the Matt Evans test correctly (I’m doing the best I can, though the test doesn’t seem very well-articulated), the HGOB — one of the seven wonders of the ancient world — are not art.
Here’s a fun little point/counterpoint on the question “Is fashion art?”:
I’m glad you clarified about the not wanting to leave NYC just yet–I *was* worried when I first read that. YOU CAN’T LEAVE US!
Looking forward to all you have to say, as usual.
Carrie, I join the others in welcoming you. I have no idea if you were already considering doing this or not, but, in line with the above requests from Julie, Adam, Rosalynde, Kevin, and Melissa, let me add my own: please please PLEASE give us some practical insight into why you think people dress for church the way they do, and how you’d suggest they improve. In other words, if you are at all so inclined, give us middle-class American church-going Mormons the Clinton-and-Stacey, “What Not To Wear” treatment. Heaven knows we need it.
Welcome to the ‘Nacle!
The timelessness of art doesn’t pertain to the durability of the subject, but the enduring quality of the art. The quality of the Hanging Gardens would be appreciated today were they still around, and they would have been appreciated consistently since ancient times.
Most likely your affinity for Geoffrey Beane’s style will erode over time, whereas your appreciation for quality music and paintings will not (even if Picasso and Led Zepellin don’t do anything for you, their mediums do).
But people continue to study fashion and its stages. Even if they aren’t wearing the same stuff today, it is appreciated (to use your term). Therefore, it’s art. Right?
The distinction I am drawing is between appreciating fashion solely for its historical value, and appreciating paintings and music (“real art”) for the same kinds of reasons that made people appreciate them in the first place.
Your protean argument keeps evolving in new directions. I have the sense that you don’t think that fashion qualifies as art, but you’ve never bothered to think to yourself why not, and you’re inventing the reasons as you go along. (I had that impression when you started this quixotic little campaign, or at least when I first heard it, a few months ago in conversation with Todd).
Your “people must appreciate it today for the same reasons people appreciated it in the first place” is an exceedingly odd standard, perhaps the oddest yet.
First, we appreciate many pieces of art because of their historical value. Films like Birth of a Nation or Citizen Kane are appreciated as groundbreaking for those reasons.
Similarly, we can go to the museum and admire a pot made two thousand years ago by the Estruscans. I would never use such a pot today. In fact, it may be pretty ugly. But it’s important that the Estruscans or the Mayans or whoever had this knowledge, were making pots two thousand years ago.
(Cf. functional art. Go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art some time and you’ll see beautifully decorated suits of armor made for nobles. No one wears these anymore. No longer art? Were they ever art?)
Second, much art goes out of style and is no longer appreciate “for the same reasons people appreciated it in the first place.” This is evident once you move out of the canon of popular classical music or popular great literature and into the obscure stuff. Is a performer like Arturo Toscanini not an artist because very few people appreciate him anymore? What if it’s a performer so obscure that his art was never recorded at all? Not art?
What if it’s a work that’s known, but hasn’t been read in the past fifty years because tastes simply changed? People still play Beethoven, but they don’t play his contemporary Natehoven, despite the fact that Natehoven was considered a popular musician during his lifetime. Does that mean that all of Natehoven’s compositions are no longer art? When do they cease being art? A decade after Natehoven’s death? A century?
For that matter, much (most?) art is not appreciated in the same way it originally was. Dickens is no longer serialized in newspapers. Is Dickens no longer art?
Finally, you’ve got the problem that much art was not appreciated in the first place. You have artists and authors like Nathaniel West who were essentially ignored in their lifetime. So if we ignore West now, that’s the same treatment he originally got, but if he’s lauded as an important novelist — then what?