Magazine of the Week!

Since “Volumes & Issues” has begun to attract more followers, we are working to give you more content.  Starting this week, we will post a Magazine of the Week every Monday morning.  We have so many cool magazines in PERS!  We want to encourage you to dive into our collection and see new things.

This week’s MoW is a new one.  We recently subscribed to this title:

mowdujour.0824Come up to the 6th floor of the library and take a look!  Of course they have a website:

You can see other new titles we’re subscribing to here:

And Librarian Helen Lane takes lots of pictures from our new books here:

Welcome back!

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Gone Swimming…

beachIt’s been hot here in NYC, and people in the library have taken turns going on vacation.  (Including me, which is why we skipped a post.)   Some people have been staycationing here in the city, a few others have traveled overseas, but a lot of us are heading to the beach.  To celebrate the lazy days of summer, we thought it would be fun to look through swim suits in our magazines.




Here’s a young woman’s suit from the 1940s:  It’s got the South American influence that was popular in the late ’30s-early ’40s.  This is a pic from May, 1944, Glamour magazine.











This hot pink number is from Glamour magazine, June 1946.  For the 1940s, this two-piece suit was pretty daring.











European ideas about the body were always a bit less conservative.  This glamour-girl layout is from L’Officiel de la Couture, June 1953.





frel 60bsuits







By the 1960s, two-piece suits had gotten barer and more common.   People think of the 1960s as “everything goes” and in swimsuits that’s right on.  These two suits from French Elle’s June 8, 1966 edition are very different from each other, but both look completely contemporary.




vog swim







These colorful suits are from the Vogue UK, May 1970 issue.  Definitely signs of the geometric influence of the time’s graphic design.





Glamour beau sol ad 1986




Glamour Mens and Women Swim 1986









The suntan oil ad above from (June 1986) is daringly bare, to hint at the product’s supposed Caribbean origins. Remember before we knew about skin cancer and all laid out using baby oil and iodine?  The model’s deep tan looks strange now.

But the 1980s were a heyday of wild prints and the one-piece suit, as seen in the editorial pages of the same issue of Glamour below.




vbbeachThis 1990s image from Vibe magazine sums up what we hope you are up to this weekend.  Enjoy the end of summer, hang out with friends, and come back to school soon!

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Summer, and the reading is lazy…

Hi, all!

Things are quiet here at the FIT this week.  The “High School Live” programs are almost finished, plus summer school is slow, and nearly finished.  If you walk along 27th street, you can see new dorm furniture being unloaded, and the benches around campus are nearly empty most of the day.

It’s been a newsworthy summer, although none of it seems to directly concern FIT.  The Supreme Court handed their last cases down, men and woman have tossed their hats into the presidential campaign ring, Wimbledon has wrapped up, and President Obama has negotiated a peace treaty with Iran.

The first rainbow flag used as a symbol of gay rights, designed with FIT alum James McNamara
The first rainbow flag used as a symbol of gay rights, designed with FIT alum James McNamara

Since it’s quieter now, I thought I would take a moment to talk about Volumes and Issues and some of our future articles.

We’ve been able to post more regularly as the library has committed to the blogging process.  We’ve had a couple amazing days lately where the traffic has been over 100 views, and we routinely have 600+ views a month now.  This means traffic here has doubled in the last year.  Thank you, all of you, for reading!

The site stats have shown support for several regular pieces.  I will be writing more “Needles in the Stacks” with Denise this fall. This is our series of book reviews.  We’re working our way through the hundreds of sewing and fabric-technique manuals here in the library’s collections.

Denise n Beth
Denise and Beth


People responded to them.  Right now we’re thinking of doing an post on corset-making books and another on historic-reproduction handwork books.  We’re open to suggestions, if you’d like us to review anything in particular.

Anne Appert’s post about Maurice Sendak is a favorite, so I’ve asked her to keep an eye on our collection for more illustrators’ work to post.

Anne, one of our staff up in the Periodicals area on the 6th floor, is also a talented illustrator in her own right.  You can take a look at her stuff here:

The Periodicals and Electronic Resources (PERS) department has also just rehoused our terrific collection of historic forecast materials, and I’ll be writing something about that once the new school year begins.  This archive of fashion forecasts is one of only a very few in the world, and will shortly become available for scholarly and designer use.

From “the Shop-Up!” at


We’re in the process of adding a bunch of new magazines to the PERS collections, and I’ll be writing something about them once more of them begin coming in.   Some of the new titles we’ve ordered include Cereal, Anorak, Dapper Dan, Numero Homme, Port, and Wrap.  Unfortunately, several of my favorite titles, Anthology and Address, seem to have ceased publishing.


2 Vog Valentino Red Gown 1984 C
Valentino gown from Vogue, 1984






Finally, working with one of our student aids, Shannon Lindsey, I will be writing some features about fashion design houses that have reinvented themselves with young, hip designers.  We’ve found lots of terrific images to compare and contrast.  So far, we’re looking at images comparing early Valentino, Dior, and Balenciaga with the new designers’ work for those venerable couture houses.

That’s what we’re working on for the next few months of writing for you.  In the meantime, there will be some vacation time, so the blog will be a bit quiet.  That doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten you, though!  We’ll be back late August with more really great stuff!



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Virtually NYC’s best collections…

mma 1915 plate

Summer is the time of lounging and hiding from the heat.  Recent museum initiatives to digitize their collections allow one to browse these collections from the comfort of one’s own comfy sofa.

I love this shift towards image availability because it means all kinds of unknown treasures can be easily viewed from home, while in one’s jammies.  Besides being excited by what all is out there, there is the fun of flipping through individual collections now online.  Then, when I want to venture into the heat of the summer, it’s worth remembering that museums are air conditioned!  What is more awesome than a place to look at gorgeous things, learn some stuff, and be cool and comfy?  Not much!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art here in NYC has been working hard to digitize some of their lesser-known collections.  Here is the link to their fashion plate collection, which has only recently been posted:

The fashion plate above is one housed at the MMA, from summer 1915.  Hard to believe that women were wearing such different clothes (and so many!) only a hundred years ago.


crusader bible


The Pierpont Morgan Libary is another local museum that has some terrific and interesting material.  They’re putting a lot of it online as well, as you can see here:

They have collected both illuminated manuscripts, like the Crusader Bible shown here, as well as literary items like Jane Austen letters and handwritten musical manuscripts.  The other interesting thing about this museum is that it was actually designed as J. P. Morgan’s “study”.  Where you or I might have a single room for our treasures, books, papers, artwork, etc., Mr. Morgan built an enormous gorgeous building for this stuff.




Another amazing resource in this city full of them is the New York Public Library system.  Besides the fact that they have lending libraries all over the city, they also have been digitizing some of their archives.  The catalog for those materials is here:

Here is an image of a dress factory from the NYC garment center:

dress factory

You can find more details on this image here:

Now get out there and check out some amazing museums and libraries!  Or stay at home, and do so from your laptop.


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Pretty gowns in bloom, pt. 2

View More:
Devina and Matthew, wed in Milwalkee, Sept. 2013:


Several weeks ago I wrote about wedding magazines up in the Periodicals and Electronic Resource Services on the 6th floor.   Those magazines were so blond and white, I am embarrassed for them.  They don’t look anything like the FIT students and industry professionals working in our reading room!  So I set myself the question of “Where are non-Anglo Americans getting their wedding inspiration?”

We get several magazines aimed at specific ethnic/sociographic communitites.  Several others we have tried to get, like Azizah, have failed, and some we just can’t find a distributor for here in New York.

But I looked in Ebony, Essence, and Vanidades for bridal tips, and found very little.



Flipping through the spring issues, when most bridal editorial is produced, I found very little.  In the June 2014 issue, there’s an article on the “Secrets of Happy Marriages”.  The Ebony website tells me that there was an article in February of this year reporting on the “Say Yes to the Dress” episode where WNBA stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson choose wedding gowns, but most of the talk about marriage in this magazine is about how to have a good one.  Frankly, this is much more important stuff than the wedding itself, but we still want to look at pretty dresses.





This title offers slightly more of the “Oooh Aaah” effect by providing an article on an actual bride, radio host Shirley Strawberry, complete with details of her gown, headpiece and accessories.  (April 2015 issue) But again, this isn’t coverage of either bridal fashions or less-famous real brides.

So where are African-American women of style going for information on bridal products?  We know the bridal industry is huge in this country, so they have to be consuming in this market, don’t they?



Here’s where the internet is my friend.  When I began to look online, I found tons of Wedding Industrial Complex aimed specifically at the African-American market.  Here are a few of the more comprehensive sites I found:

Munaluchi layout inspired by Gustav Klimt, spring 2015: art-inspired-shoot-mint-wedding-ideas-munaluchi-026










But what about Hispanic brides? We subscribe to Vanidades, a title aimed at Hispanic women in America.  But it doesn’t have much coverage of the wedding industry, either.







I found one mention of a fairy-tale wedding in the April 2014 issue.  But even this article reads more like a paparazzi-fed celebrity report than wedding-industry romance about the dress, the shoes, and the tiara.


So where are Hispanic brides getting their wedding inspiration from?  This question is complicated by the number of different countries of origin among Hispanics in America.  But here in the library, we have all kinds of demographic records!  A quick search through Statista ( produced the breakdown, by percentage, of country of origin among all Americans identifying as “Hispanic”.  Once in Statista, I searched for “Hispanic population in the U.S., by origin 2010″ (census date).


Regina and Zaheen serenaded by mariachi band in 2011. Photo by Aaron Delesie. Zacatecas, Mexico.


I discovered that people of Mexican descent make up the vast majority of the Hispanics in this country.  Puerto Rican descent is the next largest, then Cuban, then Salvadoran, then Dominican.  Since I know that a large percentage of those here in New York are of Puerto Rican or Dominican heritage, I focused on trying to find any websites devoted to weddings in these traditions.

And couldn’t find much.  Lots of questions on larger wedding-planning sites from Puerto Rican and Dominican women, but nothing that was marketed directly to them.  Here are some of the sites I found:

(shout out to for embracing so many cultures!)

Ironically, both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are popular places for American couples planning destination weddings.

Chinese wedding banner
Chinese-American wedding in Manhattan, from Atlantic Monthly article, March 8, 2011


Another culture found in the New York area is American-born Chinese.  While we  subscribe to several major Chinese fashion magazines, the language barrier makes it difficult to get information on the variations of Chinese wedding customs celebrated in the U.S.  Fortunately, there are helpful sites with detailed instructions:


Photo by Krista Lee Newbill, event by
Photo by Krista Lee Newbill, event by More about this wedding:

According to this article in Fortune magazine, August 8, 2014, “The average American wedding costs $29,000 and has 140 guests…  The average cost of an Indian wedding in the U.S. is $65,000 with 500 guests,” says an planner who specializes in Indian-style weddings.  This kind of ceremony has generated it’s own multimillion dollar wedding industry.  Despite this, American bridal magazines don’t address this sort of ceremony at all.

Indian-American culture clearly embraces the  colorful wedding ritual.  Unfortunately, other than the recently-created Vogue India, we have been unable to find any American vendors who carry Indian-fashion magazines.

Yet again, the internet helps solve this problem.  The growing network of wedding planners, venues, and suppliers who specialize in Indian customs can easily be found by the click of a mouse.  I found many sites, all of which have lavish images of red and gold bejeweled brides and grooms wearing turbans or riding horses.  Here are just a few, to inspire you.

We’ve only written about several ethnic-American cultures here, due to space concerns.    Clearly non-Anglo Americans are finding the information and resources to plan the weddings they desire outside of traditional print sources.  Thank you, internet!  The bigger question remains, however: “does it matter to non-Anglo Americans that mainstream bridal magazines don’t reflect their presence in this market?”  Unfortunately, it would take more resources than I have available to resolve it.  In the meantime, enjoy all the pics of gorgeous gowns and decorated venues.  And happy wedding season!

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