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PRINT January 2017

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Women’s History Museum

Women’s History Museum is an NYC-based multisensory clothing project by Amanda McGowan and Mattie Barringer. They presented their most recent collection, “Frauveldt,” at the Ukrainian National Home in New York in September; for their fourth season, WHM will further investigate the categories of clothing and women throughout time.

  1. ANTIQUE CLOCHE WIGS

    In the 1920s, these hat-like wigs were made from materials such as raffia and silver bullion, coiled by hand to mimic chic hairstyles of the day. It’s inspiring to think that nearly one hundred years ago, the fashion industry could conceive of such a self-aware yet surreal object. The beauties pictured here and others like them are available via Bridget’s Cabinet on eBay and on 1stdibs.com. We envision wearing one over long, natural hair.

    Cloche wigs, ca. 1920s. Photos: Bridget’s Cabinet. Cloche wigs, ca. 1920s. Photos: Bridget’s Cabinet.
  2. DACHI COLE AND CANDICE WILLIAMS, DOLLS, 2015 (LOMEX, NEW YORK)

    Dachi and Candice’s dolls are crafted from scraps of wood, metal, and cloth. Their living space is filled with these materials, which they are constantly repurposing, recycling, and archiving—drawing on the ancient craft of doll making and its creation of objects of comfort, play, magic, and ritual. Aside from being beautiful, the dolls are also powerful artifacts of a deep sisterhood between the two women.

    Dachi Cole and Candice Williams, Dolls, 2015, wood, string, cloth, metal, dimensions variable. Dachi Cole and Candice Williams, Dolls, 2015, wood, string, cloth, metal, dimensions variable.
  3. FAIRY CONSPIRACY PHOTOS

    Perhaps as an extension of our interest in doll making, we are fascinated by fairy-corpse conspiracy photography, a genre practiced since the advent of the medium. A famous example is the “Derbyshire Fairy,” whose mummified body was discovered by local Dan Baines in 2007. There is something naggingly poignant about the image of her fossilized body being cupped by a rubber glove—a mélange of fantasy and spirituality with a bureaucratic, clinical gaze.

    Alleged fairy corpse, Derbyshire, UK, April 1, 2007. Photo: Dan Baines/REX/Shutterstock. Alleged fairy corpse, Derbyshire, UK, April 1, 2007. Photo: Dan Baines/REX/Shutterstock.
  4. PETE BURNS (1959–2016)

    Burns was truly ahead of his time. In addition to being a fashion pioneer (all the Vivienne Westwood!), in his public, unabashed use of body modification, he confronted the perceived boundaries of identity and gender. RIP Pete.

    Pete Burns, 2006. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images. Pete Burns, 2006. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images.
  5. ODWALLA88, LILY 23 (DM8H943/VAGUE REFERENCE, 2014)

    Chloe Maratta and Flannery Silva are friends and collaborators; their constant creative output comes in multiple mediums: collage, clothing, sculpture, and music. They’ve created the most relatable sound track to our lives and invented their own genres of electronic punk music, poetry, and aesthetics. They have some of the most evocative lyrics, their live performances are legendary, and the outfits they wear to shows are critical.

  6. ANITA SARKO AND HER WARDROBE (@SARKOLOLO ON INSTAGRAM)

    We became aware of Sarko last year, when her husband sold some of her clothing at Beacon’s Closet after she passed away. Sarko was a style icon and one of New York’s first superstar female DJs in the 1980s. She was known to have two apartments—one for sleeping and eating, another for her boundless wardrobe. It’s clear that she had a deep relationship with her garments; her belongings reveal an imagined utopia of high femininity, opulence, and absurdity. In an interview about her life and work, she offers her personal philosophy on what it means to be an artist who attains any measure of success: “You don’t know what history is going to embrace and discard . . . and sometimes history is wrong. I’ve always found the most interesting people of any decade to be the ones that get lost.” We feel honored to own clothing that is inevitably charged with her life force.

    Anita Sarko, Palladium, New York, 1986. Photo: Paige Powell. Anita Sarko, Palladium, New York, 1986. Photo: Paige Powell.
  7. HANS BELLMER (GALERIE FRANÇOIS PETIT, 1976)

    We’ve always been in love with Bellmer’s famous poupée photographs. This set of illustrations portrays Surrealist scenes of fantasy fashion interspersed with corporeal torture and somehow captures a hyperfeminine zone wherein fashion exceeds the material and enters an authentically sensual place in our imagination.

    Hans Bellmer, Pays-Sage (Country Wise), 1942, graphite on paper, 23 5/8 × 20 1/8". © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Hans Bellmer, Pays-Sage (Country Wise), 1942, graphite on paper, 23 5/8 × 20 1/8". © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.
  8. DONNA READ AND STARHAWK, SIGNS OUT OF TIME: THE STORY OF ARCHAEOLOGIST MARIJA GIMBUTAS (2003)

    Marija Gimbutas was an esteemed Lithuanian archaeologist whose work redefined understandings of prehistoric Europe. She uncovered countless art objects, among them thousands of “goddess figures,” which laid the foundation for her most important and controversial hypothesis: positing the existence of a peaceful civilization predicated on goddess worship. These later works were dismissed by mainstream archaeologists but embraced by some feminists and neopagans. Her method combined linguistics, folklore, and poetics with archaeology and was idealistic and highly personal, but it gave her the ability to question stale disciplinary boundaries.

    Donna Read, Signs Out of Time: The Story of Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, 2003, 16 mm and digital video, color, sound, 60 minutes. Donna Read, Signs Out of Time: The Story of Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, 2003, 16 mm and digital video, color, sound, 60 minutes.
  9. WHITE MENS LEGS (FORMERLY KNOWN AS FISH WIFES)

    This clothing collaboration between Claire Barrow and Reba Maybury makes a mockery of a tired and commodified punk culture. The garments—their canvases—are typical “bondage” punk shirts that could come from St. Mark’s or Camden Market and are covered in patches with slogans such as NOSTALGIA AS SEXUAL PLEASURE, 40 YEAR OLD IDEOLOGY, and A MIDDLE FINGER. Punk’s white male aggression has lost its relevance and become a parody of itself, as hollow as these phrases. The result is more honest and enticing than the work of most contemporary fashion designers.

    White Mens Legs (formerly known as Fish Wifes), unique handmade bondage shirt, 2016, cotton, chain, acrylic, ink, safety pins, silk, badge, calico, ribbon. White Mens Legs (formerly known as Fish Wifes), unique handmade bondage shirt, 2016, cotton, chain, acrylic, ink, safety pins, silk, badge, calico, ribbon.
  10. ELYSIA CRAMPTON

    Seeing this Bolivian artist and musician perform live is an emotional adventure. She crafts musical collages that tie together South American history, love, and queer and trans identity—cut with the sounds of maniacal laughter, chimes, and water explosions—and creates an entire sonic universe. Hearing her live rendition of “Irreducible Wing (silly faggot mix)” in August was sublime. It’s rare for either of us to weep at crowded music venues, but she’s able to convey the most human and vulnerable feelings within a transcendent experience. Crampton triggers raw emotion while remaining firmly political in her work and online presence.

    Elysia Crampton performing at Warm Up, MoMA PS1, New York, August 27, 2016. Photo: Mark Cole. Elysia Crampton performing at Warm Up, MoMA PS1, New York, August 27, 2016. Photo: Mark Cole.