Friday, July 31, 2015

One of the Things...

Have you ever wanted to get ideas out of people, but they froze up and couldn't give you something meaty? For instance, perhaps you've just held a training session and you'd like to know what they valued. When you ask, they say “everything.” Or you ask what they would like changed and they say “nothing” or “I don't know” or they don't respond at all.

When you insert the small, but powerful, phrase “one of the things” into your sentences, you are guaranteed to reap many more answers.  The idea of naming one thing gives peoples' brains permission to come up with something concrete.

So instead of “What did you value in class?” you say “What is one thing that you value from the class?” or “What is one of the things you'd like changed in the training?”

Yes, you may want more than one ... and you may very well get more ... but the question phrased as asking for one is the magic for releasing the ideas.  Everyone can come up with a single item.

 And very often, the one thing they tell you, will be the most important

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Give It Some Thought

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." (Mark Twain)

Have you ever met someone who made you feel insignificant or foolish about your dreams or goals? Do you believe in encouraging people even if their ideas seem bound to fail? Where and how do you draw the line between being honest and being encouraging?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Ridicule: Origins and History

Historically, the little beaded bag was called by many names. Summarizing the information, it’s a fashion accessory used by both men and women since the Middle Ages or medieval period, lasted from the 5th to 15th century: the pocketbook, the purse, and the handbag. The French referred to it sarcastically as ‘the ridicule,’ because who in their right minds would walk around with all their possessions in their hands? It comes from the Latin word, reticulum, which refers to the small ladies’ net bags from Roman times. The English called it indispensable. In general, the reticules were made from all kind of textiles, quite often in the home industry, but with big enthusiasm and creativity.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Reveal the Secrets by Unzipping the Mystery

Let’s take off the mask, and reveal the secrets by unzipping the mystery! And please keep your underwear on, and there is no need to remove your make-up. And if you are ready, I will give you the permission to unzip the Retro file. Vintage style and vintage clothing are gaining popularity and for different reasons. Young people obsessed with vintage clothing that offers the unique look for less. On college campuses, student population knows how mix and match affordable vintage retro from thrifts’ store and blend it with new bringing history of fashion design from different level to a new popular phenomenon. Today, many stores sell brand new items that made to have the old look selling the brand and the leverage of timeless classic and dirty denim washed-up and distressed, slim ties, over sized shades, simply because it is “all about being able to look GOOD in a burlap sack.”


In general, despite the hard-work, fashion is enjoyable and entertaining, but not at some dull and tedious moments. During the mid-eighties, people were robbed and killed for Cazal eyeglass frames. The West German imports, made of heavy, dark plastic molded into square lens frames linked by a broad gold nose piece, sold for a high as $200.00 a pair. As fashion frames spread from celebrities to the streets, first in New York and then to Philadelphia, and after to south and west; and as my story goes, in Philadelphia, the frames initiated a crime wave. The desire over Cazal’s causes many young people to arm themselves with handguns whenever they wore their glasses.


The ‘past perfect vintage’ from different era range in quality and price, and are very collectible. The great American dealer, Israel Sack, used to say, “Bargains are expensive,” meaning that experience absent knowledge could be very costly. Collectible antique clothing refers to finely constructed clothing from the past and meets standards of aesthetic quality. For thousands years, fashion statements was a way to demonstrate the social status and the social power. “The living form of art holds power – power to control a part of one’s image,” said British philosopher Francis Bacon. Historically, fashionable clothing has been finely made, distinctive, and expensive. Generally speaking, clothing which was made before 1920s is referred to as antique clothing; and clothing from the 1920s to twenty years before the present day is considered vintage. Fashion is not like technology, yesterday’s transportation and pharmaceuticals in the sense that not everything newer is not necessarily more desirable. Antique clothes owned by Cher or Barbara Streisand, dresses made by Bob Mackie great samples of national memorabilia of the museum quality are very popular among collectors.


Meantime, fashion trends are come and go. To follow the fashion trend devotedly and be in fashion is smart, but as one of my fashion-savvy friends said, the recycling of fashion trends has been speed up. In our contemporary culture, influential individuals, celebrities, and professional models are the powerful beautiful ‘tips of the iceberg’ associated with social stratification. You can be wrapped in the best covers, but behind each masked person is the personal style. Viva personal style, individualism, chic, practicality and elegance! “A blue hat is just a blue hat, until Kate Middleton puts it on – then fashion is born.” (The Logic of Fashion Cycles, 2012) All clothes protect the human body from natural elements, but dressing with flair and personal style is a way of announcing one’s taste and standing in society. As Charles Dickens once said, “any man may be in good spirits and good temper when he’s well dressed.”


As history is always divided by time frames, the inside out style has acceptable guidelines of fashion studies:


Fashion fads: last 3-12 months

Fashion trends: last 1-5 years

Fashion classics: last 5-10 years

Fashion cycle: about 20 years until a trend will return.


We cannot physically return in the past time, as progress with each step back makes a step forward as well. Fashion always returns in a slightly different way.

There is something that has to be said about celebrating fashion points with historical pride. The fashion literacy is far more then glamour and style. The so-called fashion science does not have a science fiction approach to the matter. Plato writes in the The Republic about economic necessity, the origin of the State, the divisions of wants – food [restaurant industry], shelter [real estate industry], and clothes [apparel manufacturing and fashion industry]. Each “profession needs its tool-its manufacturer, and the merchant to keep up the exchange. In some sense, the individual is a complete man only in the State, therefore, certain necessities of his own being that cannot supply him without fulfilling his own capacity” is the fundamental position of entire Republic. The method to discover that capacity is education.


A fast glimpse around the library shelves or bookshelves in the bookstore provides the observation evidence that word “fashion” is in bound up with almost everything. Fashion studies include sociological aspects, psychological explanations, historical approach, and a wide aspect of business management for one and shopping till you drop for others, let say, somewhere on the fashionable Fauborg St. Honore or at Bal Harbour Shops on Miami Beach.


I hope you enjoy the deep water diving under the tip of the iceberg, and after you will come back to the dry land and remove the mask and the diving costume, you will continue your business tomorrow by putting on your best shoes, the hat …simply because “the hat on your head will keep you warm, with the hat on your head you will be a little bit taller, with the hat on your head, you’ll acknowledge the elegancy, a little bit sophistication, with the hat on your head you will get protected and shielded from rattle of wind and rain. With the hat on your head, you will be tied to strangeness of secrecy, and a little bit of unexpected mystery. When you wear the hat on your head, you will refine to natural earthy simplicity, and a little bit of naivety. When you are wearing the hat on the head, you are a different person; very confident, between us two, everybody will study and learn your face – who are you? When you are wearing the hat on your head, you will treasure the thoughts under one shell, under one dome; the entire world, to undiscovered humanity and femininity. When you wear the hat, you are a little bit stronger, sharper and hard-minded. When you have a hat on your head, you feel a little bit noble, precious, and edel – queenly generous and a little bit gorgeous, also sensitive and giving. You are wearing the world on your neck; come, take a look! You need more than a shoulder to keep you head up, you need more than a hat to keep up your head right: complexity and opportunity, chaos of unfinished symphony, dynamics of the tropical rain, rattle of the waterfall, and the tomb of your arm. A little bit of anatomical elements embracing your brain and mind, highlighting your eyes and the mouth. When you are wear the hat, you are headlining you, carrying the aura of the materialistic hat as a crown above; the wreath of success – just one flower will make fairy-like-flower-head wreath to come back in your past, a little bit of catching your dream, when you are wear the hat on your head. (Tomshinsky, 2013)

Art and Fashion

The National Portrait Gallery collection at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC includes more than hundred thousands of portrait records. Long-time ago before the narcissist’ ‘selfies’ were taken with one press of the button on the mobile phone and cameras were invented, upper class citizens requested to make a portrait to preserve the image of the notable Americans, notable American subjects, and also made by notable American artists. The significance of the assessment of importance of portraiture is in the great value of the images that able to bring alive the expressions of identity, the detail-oriented costumes of the historical period, with such amazing quality that unfolds every piece of fabric, the purple velvet of the rich businessman’s jacket, and the blue and red with golden d├ęcor of generals’ uniforms, and the softness of lace and shines of the ribbons, skilled needlework, etc.

Paint and the needle; artist always have been inspired to paint, draw and sculpt beautiful women in the clothes they wore. Many times, fashion designers got inspiration from artists’ work or artistic movements and incorporated their artwork ideas into their fashion designs. Women were looking at themselves at the mirrors, with other mirror behind to reflect the back of her head to demonstrate to us the 3-D image of great natural expressions, full wardrobe, jewelry and the fashion accessories of the historic period. There is an ancient belief that mirrors cannot lie: “Looking-glass upon the wall, who is fairest of us all?” (Grimm & Grimm, 1882) The mirror is the antipode of the musk, because mirrors accurately reflect the truth, the beauty, and our morality.

Almost hundred years ago, Ethel Traphagen, one of the first American female fashion designer and the 1911th New York Times first-prize evening dress winner, got inspired from an American painter, James Whistler. James Whistler originally was trained in Paris and later lived in London. He was influenced by the work of French Impressionists by the Japanese woodblock prints. He used smoky colors in night-time scenes to create the mysterious effects in his Nocturne paintings. Ethel Traphagen had been motivated and stimulated by one of these scenes and used the image to design a dress of blue chiffon layered over putty hue colored silk. Elizabeth Hawes was another well-known figure in the fashion industry in the 1930s. She traveled to Paris and lived above the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, a place where many talented people such as Ernest Hemingway and George Gershwin borrowed books and mingled and met other people. Elizabeth Hawes wanted her clothes to move as three-dimensional mobiles that her friend and artist Alexander Calder created. She was not shy to incorporate the abstract elements from Spanish artist Joan Miro used in his paintings in her capes and vests. O’ yes, these ladies knew how manipulate the data, and create the compositional interpretation from one media into another.


The fashion industry is almost like the iceberg as we can see on the runways as the above the water the strong, confident and beautiful part of it to pleasure our eye-view. But beneath the iceberg is hidden underwater world the hard-work of sketching the ideas, drawing and cutting patterns to create sample garments, select fabrics and trimmings, dressmaking and  tailoring principles, fitting and modifying the finished garment, teamwork, communication, marketing and more. People say it is only in the dictionary, the word ‘success’ comes before the word ‘work.’ Beneath the industry iceberg standing influential individuals that are ready to change characteristics and preferences, create new styles and trends of chic and practicality by attracting consumers to buy their outfits, and matching accessories.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The First Fifteen Years of the the 21 Century in Fashion Industry

The new and emerging technologies of the sweet fifteen years of the 21st century brought on the ch-ch-change to the structure and role within the fashion industry. Cable and digital networks providing increasing amount of consumer information on fashion trends. After authoritative peer reviewed digital newsletters and ‘street’ blogs, came narrative tweeter with 140 characters of text, and finality the Pinterest replaced text with the visual information. Today, contemporary creative micro-businesses are using the new approach of open sourcing or crowd fitting sourcing where we all are now both consumers and designers.

We only can see the tip of the iceberg, because only 1/7 t 1/8 of an iceberg can be seen above the water and easily observed. The rest of the significant mass of ice is hidden below the surface. Majority of people are very much as icebergs, the individual skills, talents, and true identity are hidden behind the mask. Using the international cultural anthology, the talented young people followed the imaginary dream, “the yellow brick road” from Wizard of Oz entering the Fashion Art Institutes and Fashion Institutes of Science and Technology. The young generation, the generation C, where ‘C’ stands for communication, used their enthusiasm, creativity, and individual talents to acquire professional skills for the betterment of our society and dedicated their careers and lives to serve the great Greek God Apollo, the God of sun, light, art, science and healing. The Fashion education brought, respectfully, brain, heart, and courage to expand the A to Z list of fashion designers and join the competition from the fashion leadership and elite.

The pathway to the knowledge requires to evaluation of information at the interpretation stage and together with critical thinking the researcher develops the personal meaning and in the process – the knowledge of learning. In fashion, the visual literacy skills the same as textual information skills, equip the learners to understand and analyzed the unknown from contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of the visual sources. The visual literate individual comprehends both the consumerism of the visual media and the body of knowledge and cultural traditions. The visual literacy defines the ability to understand and convey through various media, visible images and actions. Since 2011, Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL) recognized the need and launched out the Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. The core of it based on the philosophical belief that any artwork can be taught to be understand in today’s image-saturated culture the same way as the traditional text.

Teaching visual literacy throughout art empowers students of fashion art sciences; as they learn critically analyze their own creative work, and manipulate the data of visual culture for consumers. The John Berger’s Ways of Seeing continues to be on the list of reading for the students in humanities disciplines as young and talented study and learn how art and culture embodies the individuals’ intellectual liberations while establishing themselves in the place of the world around them, because “seeing comes before words.” As “the child looks and recognizes before it can speak,” (Berger,1990) observation, another great research method, comes one of the primary research tool for any fashion-trend-watcher. The observer always had a great sharp eye for the CEO ‘design for success’ look, the street casual look, the perfect fashion tips for the curvy girls, and the endless fashion guideline possibilities for petite, or not, girls.

The fashion infusions come from many sources, the researcher with use of instrumental tools such as observation and trend-watching, uses the data, statistical and factual, historical and geographical, etc. The best way to obtain it, beside research, is on the go in our own neighborhood and local communities, by traveling the world or attending a fashion show. The inspiration can come from various places, facts, and events, but the only compositional interpretation of the data and events, will bring us to the ‘ah-ha moment’ to create the new with creativity, confidence, and hard work.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Mystery of the Unkown

Beneath the iceberg and behind the mask is the mystery of the unknown. Our society continues to pay more attention to science and technology, and we are paying more and more attention to fashion studies. What is Fashion? Is it an obsession and body admiration? Is it a story of cloth and the industry’s broth? Is it a body ministry or a simple little paltry? Is it an occupation with a style demonstration? Is it an operation, an opinion or presentation? All above is about number one occupation of fashion – the in- and-out of profession in higher education. An American designer, Claire McCardell, once said that people without a sense of fun, of dash, of whim, might misunderstand fashion. For scholars, for students and educators who are involved in the teaching-learning body of knowledge in the academic process of fashion studies is a serious business.

As fashion trends are taking over the planet, and, historically, the role of fashion studies interferes with basic understanding of the nature of wearing clothes in appropriated style is the common core of information process and preparation to research. To get informed and be able to transfer and deliver the pieces of information and visual literacy into fashion craftsmanship and in the creative skills with unlimited offers of the talented individuals and their intellectual liberations and self-expressions is the driving forth of handling the "mystery of the unknown.”

Contemporary urban legends in popular culture, traditional folktales always gave up the common core of extensive overviews on the breath of multicultural traditions, revealing the historic characters of the countries and its people as well as their time-honored values and costumes. The familiar fictional tales provide in-depth materials for popular culture products in songs, craft, and images accompanied by historical and geographical backgrounds of research exploration.

I live and work in Miami, and Southeast part of Florida has a special visible place in American popular culture. In the 21st century, fashion together with arts, design, and entertaining associates in people’s mind with chic, style, luxury, and shopping. Consumerism is an economic expression of American socio-economical American Revolution. Adam Smith recognized it and wrote in the Wealth of Nations, “Consumers are to economics what voters are to politics.”

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Beneath the Iceberg and Behind the Mask

Beneath the iceberg is the power of invisible beauty and wealth of compositional interpretation. Behind the masquerade mask is a mystery of the unknown of the fashion infusion of history, chic and practicality. And all the factors above contribute not only to information literacy, but to the visual literacy as well. Beneath of the smooth surface and clean canvas spurs attached layers of visual history and culture, visual pleasure and disruption bringing the creative individual infusions into the process. In the way of the process the compositional interpretations giving birth to manufacture quality.  

Fashionable always connected to new knowledge and interpretation of visual information. We have to look for it, locate, evaluate; and in the end, we create the new understanding and comprehension. It was, is, and always will be various ways of seeing, saying, and creating.

No secret, that fashion itself as a subject of matter is in the category of fine arts. The mystery of fashion can only be compared to the mystery of poetry, another subject of creative arts. The same as creative writing process, fashion sciences studies include fashion research, body and mind communication; and, in 21st century, the availability of modern technology.

Human history of fashion perhaps started thousand years ago with the humble apron worn by men. These words are written in the 3rd Chapter of Genesis: “…they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (Genesis 3:7) Saying this, we just acknowledge Adam and Eve as the first fashion designers’ duo tailoring the first garment with chic and practicality, and affordable sustainability.

Fashion attire and fashion accessories that we wear and carry infused with elements of rich history of costumes and textiles, cultural aesthetics and traditions, and socio-economical conditions that drive the progress of the functionality with chic and style in mode.

The 21st century fashion design continues evolved around visual observations and creative desires of leaders of the industry that not afraid to take risk management and create luxury items with six figures behind the price tag. And every year, more and more students are entering the Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising educational programs in London, Milan, New York, Miami and Los Angeles. The new generation prove themselves and convinced us that it is “all about looking GOOD in the burlap sack.” (Tomshinsky, 2013)

Fashion Tales, 2015. Draft program, February 4, 2015.(Tomshinsky, 2015.) Theorizing Fashion: Beneath the Iceberg, Behind the Mask, Milan, Italy, Friday, June 19, 14.30-16.00, p.7.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Florida Grows

Beyond the beaches, theme parks, and condo enclaves are the farms, ranches, and greenhouses. Florida is more famous for tourism, but its number-two industry is agriculture. It is the nation's top producer of oranges, sugar cane, sweet corn, and watermelons - and a major producer of tomatoes and other vegetables, strawberries, peanuts, and variety of other crops. (Forum, Spring 2014)

Photographer: Ida Tomshinsky