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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L’Officiel, June 1988, p. 51

You made it through another school year!

Now you can relax for the summer.  Ok, so maybe you have to work, but you still won’t have projects due after your workday, right?

New York City is a great place to be in the summer.  The city is less crowded because a lot of people relocate for a few months.  Yes, there are tourists here from all over the world, but the trains aren’t as full, and it’s warm out, so you can walk everywhere.  Plus there are tons of free cool things to do here all summer long.

Just to give you some ideas, I’ve compiled a little list of links.

I’m putting Time Out New York in here first, because we just happen to have it up on the 6th floor of the library.

TONY cvr310
Cover, April 22-28 issue, up in PERS on 6th floor

And here are a bunch of other cool listings:

 Have a great summer, everyone!

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Spring, and pretty gowns in bloom, pt. 1

The library’s Periodicals and Electronic Resources department subscribes to a several bridal magazines.  We subscribe to these for their presentation of many items, not just pretty gowns, so we thought we should point them out to you.

If you’re curious to see the whole list, you can find it here:

brides cover

Brides (American edition):

This is the oldest of our current bridal titles.  It is America’s big, mass-market bridal glossy.  Like most bridal mags, it’s chief purpose is to provide some text between the vast amount of advertising pages devoted to gown sales.  And bridesmaid dress sales.   The graphic design of this title hasn’t been updated much in 30 years, though, and the layout looks just like every other middle-market glossy (probably because they are mostly published by Conde Nast).

Brides Vera Wang Mens 2015




It is a well-rounded title, including articles on honeymoons and travel, some bridal-show runway coverage, trends in bridesmaid’s gowns, some coverage of beauty trends (with a column by Drew Barrymore, no less), a basic calendar for wedding planning, even some discussion of the couple’s future relationship.  We often recommend this title for the men’s formal-wear and tableware, as well.


Brides Plates 2015

Formal-wear styled for a younger menswear market, ad by Vera Wang.  This ad campaign also shows up in Martha Stewart Weddings.

Christian Lacroix plates headline an editorial feature on tableware in the April/May 2015 issue.

And some bridesmaid’s dresses from the editorial:  Brides Floral Dresses 2015




Very Conde Nast feeling to that page, and not in the best sense.  All images shown here are from the April/May 2015 issue.

Their web site is more detailed and looks a bit fresher:


MSW coverMartha Stewart Weddings:

Even though this magazine shares a lot of mid-market advertisers with Brides (American), it stays true to Ms. Stewart’s goals.  This title attempts to bring a “beautiful” DIY lifestyle to anyone who can cut a piece of paper.

MSW DIY 2015





Among the standard gown and ring advertisements, the magazine includes plenty of hands-on tips to make keepsakes, invitations, and favors.  The editorial focuses more on the domestic details of both wedding and married life, with suggestions for table decorations, household appliances, and flower arrangements along with the usual makeup and jewelry tips.  Likewise, the design of the magazine and the tone of the editorial is younger than Brides (American).

MSW Mira Zwillinger Spring 2015 2 The gowns in the editorials are fashion-forward but affordable, more ‘Vera Wang for David’s Bridal’ than Vera Wang.  While serving its middle-class audience, Martha Stewart Living holds on to its aspirational, trend chasing, and lifestyle roots.  All images shown here are from the Spring 2015 issue.

One more note: the layout pictured here on the left includes the only model who wasn’t pale-skinned and Anglo-featured in any of the bridal magazines discussed here.  (“Scanning the Spectrum”, featuring Madisin Bradley, Spring 2015 issue, pp. 292-305)  Surely you can do better, publishers?


brideuk cvr

Brides UK:

This is also a Conde Nast product, and includes similar features to its American counterpart: hundreds of gown ads, month by month to do lists, bridesmaid’s dress ads, housewares, mother-of-the bride tips. Despite these similarities this title has a lighter tone than Brides (American).

Brides UK Mom of Bride 2007





The difference springs from several sources.  The clothing sales pitches are not aimed just at the bride.  The editorial and ads include a lot of items for children, grooms (lots of menswear!), and bridesmaids; and it includes regular articles and advertising aimed at chic mothers of brides.


stripe dressBeing a British publication, there are also great hats, of course, as the layout above shows.

bridesmaids cheeky


Maybe it’s that more actual weddings are depicted in this title, or maybe it’s the cheekiness of the English ads, but in this mag, weddings seem to be less serious business and more fun for the whole family.


This saucy dress is a great inspiration for the FD Draping 2 Stripe Project!


We recommend this title if you need references for men’s formal-wear or current hat fashions.  Also, English designers are featured prominently throughout.


TnC coverTown and Country Weddings:

Town and Country  has always targeted the American country-club set, an audience known for their traditional tastes.  Yet this magazine is more forward-looking in graphic design, layout, and in gowns shown than others reviewed here.   The photography layouts are so minimalist they are suitable for mobile consumption.

This title depicts some fabulous weddings of “real” people in it.  Well, ok, so the super wealthy/famous, but still.   The style spots use the snappy “Style Spy” tag to highlight wedding pics full of pretty, tasteful ideas.  The (larger) amount of space devoted to men’s clothing and grooming is a nod to old-school style not seen in Brides (American) or Martha Stewart Weddings.

The editorials are pared down and elegant.  While many of the styles are very simple, they aren’t necessarily traditional, as this cropped-top bride (Spring 2015 issue) shows.

TnC crop top

Its focus on old money brings Town and Country Weddings some very upscale advertisers, so it surprised me how much more funky their products were, more so than even Martha Stewart Weddings‘.

T&C Wedding Invites 2014


Some of the ads and some of the layouts showcase these very hip products, like this invitation.



Plenty others contain more traditional goods, elegantly styled, like this grouping of rings or this lace gown.

T&C Wedding Rings 2014


TnC lace




The invitation and rings pictured above are from ads, and the lace dress from editorial.  All these images are from the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of Town and Country Weddings.




The internet has given people many more and more-diverse options for researching and designing their weddings.  One of the biggest competitors to Brides has been The Knot.  While this began as a website, it has also become a successful magazine (which we do not carry, sorry.)  Here are some other websites I’ve found for interesting takes on the wedding industry:

The library also has tons of books with historic looks at wedding fashions.  If you search StyleCat using the word “bridal”, you will get pointers to 95 other sources for images and research on the bridal market.  Watch this space for Pt. 2 of this article, where I’ll show you some of the market resources for researching this classification.

Happy spring, and may all your romantic dreams come true!

The talented Shannen Lindsey (FMM) helped with the ideas and images for this article.

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