Critical Undressing

Are you a voyeur? Could you get off undressing celebrities from METALLICA TO MUAMMAR AL-GADDAFI?  Dress, the second installment of D-Crit’s chapbook series, features  essays that parse the personal props and sartorial signifiers of divas, dictators and designers alike. Published by the School of Visual Arts MFA in Design Criticism (D-Crit), Dress will premiere on Wednesday, November 16, 2011, at the Bumble and Bumble Theater.

Dress includes Alan Rapp on James Hetfield’s journey from hesher to heavy metal has-been; Laura Forde on artist/director Julian Schnabel’s 24/7 pajama party; Zach Sachs on the fashion fugue states of the late Muammar Al-Gaddafi; Saundra Marcel on the tweening of kiddy cartoon Dora the Explorer; Barbara Eldredge on the ascetic aesthetic of the late Steve Jobs; and more. It is designed by the Walker Art Center and featuring illustrations (below) by Peter Arkle.

I asked Alice Twemlow, chair of D-Crit, more about this second Chapbook:

How do the writers in the D-Crit Chapbook cover “the dress” in a manner that is different from other fashion writing?
Well you don’t often see the word fashion in the same sentence as the Pope, James Hetfield, Dora the Explorer, and Gaddafi. Introducing issues from the realms of politics, animation, comedy to  a consideration of clothing lends fashion writing new vigor and relevance. The authors in this book, trained in the tactics and methods of design criticism—the boundaries of which extend so much further than fashion— are able to bring wide-ranging sets of cultural references to bear upon their subject matter, to provide interpretations of clothing through a consideration of the personality wearing it, the customizations they have made, and the settings it is seen against.

What about fashion is ripe for cultural critique?
Fashion is a business, but in its criticism it is often portrayed solely as an art form, the articles of clothing considered in the isolation chamber of the couturier’s showroom or runway. It’s time for post-occupancy fashion analysis!

Tell, me what the reader will take away from this chapbook?
I would hope that a reader will  find themselves chuckling as they read, and pleased to learn that design criticism can be sharp, insightful—and funny. The reader might also find themselves enacting sartorial analysis of the kind found in the pages of this chapbook on the constructed identities of their favorite celebrities, their colleagues or fellow commuters. They can also take away the free bookmark.

How can we get this Chapbook?
You can buy them for a mere $10 at Lulu.com. For a limited edition foil-stamped copy, lovingly designed by the design team at the Walker Art Center, you’d have to attend our launch event next Wednesday at Bumble and Bumble or be the 4,000th follower of @DCrit on Twitter.

D-Crit ChapbookD-Crit Chapbook


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