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THE CODPIECE, DEMYSTIFIED

We at Hue have our favorite fashion weirdnesses. We love bustles, of course, and those super-bizarro horned headdresses that women wore in the 15th century.

But the codpiece takes the cake. What was it about? Can it really be as obvious as it seems?

Fortunately, we now have a video, created and narrated by FIT faculty member Chloe Chapin, to explain it all: history, significance, even a bit of theory.

Chapin made the film on an artist’s residency at The MacDowell Colony. Her work there eventually led to a Fulbright grant in which she did research on the history of men’s suits. She now uses it in her Fashion Design courses at the college.

THE MANY ZINGS OF FIT ALUMNUS MICHAEL KORS

We at Hue are nothing if not serious, academic, and scholarly. We routinely pepper our conversation with high-minded references to modernist works of art and literature. Nothing we ever do is the least bit trashy. OK, maybe a little. Maybe sometimes.

Anyway, this morning Hue happened to come across the most astonishing video of FIT alumnus Michael Kors. It strings together a miraculous volley of quips–“disses,” or, as they are called in some quarters, “shade”–from Project Runway.  We happen to adore Mr. Kors, as can be seen in the profile we wrote about him last summer.

Weirdly enough, Hue finds Mr. Kors’s quips more affectionate than venomous. Maybe we’re blinded by our own affection for Mr. Kors. Or maybe we’re just amused:

(Brought to you by the film review duo MovieBitches. Thanks, you two.)

THE SECRETS OF TABLECLOTHS

Dressed for Dining is a small exhibition of tablecloths from the mid-20th century, on view until October 5 in FIT’s library. We asked the show’s curator, Patrice George, Textile Development and Marketing faculty and a student in FIT’s MA program in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice, to write a blog post about the show.

As a weaver/textile designer, I love table covers because they are one of the few items that are pure textile (no buttons, zippers, or trimmings). They also make great souvenirs, because you can always fit a tablecloth into a packed suitcase, and not worry about them breaking.

Patrice 4

Above: At the turn of the 20th century, a proper dining table still required spotless white linen table covers. Maintaining delicate white linen textiles, embellished with embroidery and lace inserts, required hours of labor to clean, bleach, press, and repair. After World War I, the emergence of timesaving washing machines made family laundry easier, but the mechanical washers could damage delicate fabrics. Heirloom household linens appeared only for special occasions after that. This particular tablecloth, embellished with satin stitch portraits of Victorian ladies, represents an heirloom quality table cover from the late 19th or early 20th century.

 

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Above: In the mid-20th century, American weaving mills added color and texture to classic checked and plaid tablecloths. Simtex, a division of Simmons Mattress Company, produced many novelty damask checks in high-quality cotton. Examples of Simtex checks on display include themes of the Gay Nineties, lobsters, and sailboats.

Only after I started to plan the exhibition did I realize that I had collected nearly 100 tablecloths from flea markets, garage sales, and  gifts from friends and family.  Actually, all of the tablecloths, except for one on loan from my fellow TDM faculty member Ann Denton, are from my own collection.

Patrice 1

 

Above: On my third birthday the table was set with a Nottingham lace tablecloth, and cake from a Betty Crocker recipe! But, I just wanted to know if the cloth came from Philadelphia, Scranton, or Wilkes-barre! PA was the largest producer of lace curtains and tablecloths in the USA in the mid-century. Ads for Quaker Lace, Scranton Lace, and Wilbarry Lace appeared in most home design magazines.

Check out the Dressed for Dining page on Facebook.

 

 

 

SPIKE LEE VISITS FIT TO DISCUSS DO THE RIGHT THING

Director Spike Lee visited FIT recently for an interview following a screening of his 1989 film Do the Right Thing. A frigid February night proved the perfect time to watch a movie that takes place on a scorching-hot summer day in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Lee said he was inspired to write the script in part because “I noticed that in New York, when it gets above 95 degrees, people lose their minds.”

spikelee

One student said she was impressed with Lee’s stylish UGGs. (He wore them to stay warm in the stadium during the Super Bowl). David Hamilton, president of FIT’s student association, holds the microphone.

The college’s Black Student Union organized the event as part of Black History Month (“the shortest month of the year,” Lee wryly noted). David Hamilton, president of FIT’s student association, greeted a packed house in the Haft Auditorium with the observation, “Black history is everybody’s history in America.”

From a show of hands, a sizable portion of the packed house in the Haft Auditorium had never seen the movie, which has held up beautifully over 25 years. The characters’ artfully crafted hairstyles, eyewear, and Day-Glo-colored outfits (for which Lee credited his costume designer, Ruth Carter) were redolent of the 80s. Still, some current students came similarly attired—and looked pretty chic.

At the climax of the film, a riot erupts. After the screening, one audience member asked whether Lee intended to stir up trouble. Lee answered, unequivocally, no. “That was a criticism of the film—that it was going to incite riots. There was a fear that you’d see the movie and run out and start smashing things. I don’t think Chuck D [of the band Public Enemy] who wrote the song ‘Fight the Power’ for me [it opens the film] was talking about taking up arms. It was more like mental stuff.”

Toward the end of the night, Lee invited students in the audience to talk about the obstacles they faced as they trained for creative careers. Many described their parents’ objections. “My father went to Harvard and my mother went to Columbia, and there’s no way they’ll pay my tuition to study fashion,” a student said. Lee counseled everyone to stick with it. “Parents,” he said, “kill more dreams than anybody.”

Lee revealed that the “Love and hate” speech given by the character Radio Raheem (above) was inspired by a scene in Charles Laughton’s 1955 suspense classic “Night of the Hunter”:

The manager of films for FIT’s student association also helped organize the event.