Amazingly few people have studied backstage images – these days they’re a mainstay of Instagram and Vogue Runway reports during fashion week. Speaking to Mark Shaw’s daughter in law Juliet across the pond in Vermont and meeting his grandson Hunter in London.Juliet kindly sent me scanned film and contact sheets to pore over – a game changer.
As such, I have been living like a hermit, only leaving my room for food and tea. Something along the lines of ‘Capturing Fashion at Work: Mark Shaw’s behind-the-scenes images of the Paris collections for LIFE magazine in the 1950s’ What prompted you to choose this subject?
Our tutor Dr Rebecca Arnold’s fondness for the work of American designer Claire Mc Cardell (you may thank her for ballet flats, spaghetti straps, separates…) led me to a fine art and textile collaboration she worked on (Picasso prints!
As the summer term starts, all thoughts turn to dissertations.
While this year’s students focus on their writing, let’s take a look at the wonderful array of subjects covered so far.
It is a reference in British ’s issue to the Footprints shop that was located in New Bond Street.
After spending almost two days at the British Library, leafing page-by-page through 1930s issues without any previous indication or even guarantee that I would find anything relating to Footprints, I could hardly suppress my euphoria when I actually found a short reference in the magazine’s regular shopping column. The most beautiful place to work is the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It reminds me of that library in Disney’s animated film What prompted you to choose this topic?As I researched, I was surprised to discover that very little scholarly work had been done on Aesthetic dress in the 1890s.This dissertation allowed me to explore that last decade of this style and the impact Oscar Wilde’s 1895 trial had on its reception.) which was photographed for LIFE in the mid-Fifties by Mark Shaw.The Mark Shaw Archive recently popped up on Instagram (@markshawofficial / @markshawlondonsydney), and scrolling through his work – snapshots of Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy amongst the images – I discovered and became mildly obsessed with his images of models prepping for fashion shows.As the US did not have strongly embedded traditions and copied European ideas and design styles until well into the 20 century, identity had to be based on something other than traditions that could be considered unequivocally American.Therefore, American identity focussed on history and symbols, including the American flag and the Statue of Liberty.During the first New York World’s Fair season, World War II broke out in Europe.Even though the United States did not enter the war until 1941, the American government realised that the US needed a defined identity to be able to unite its people in patriotism.While studying dress reform as an undergraduate, I became enamored with Aesthetic dress, an alternative style of clothing adopted by followers of British Aestheticism primarily during the late-1870s and early-1880s.Female Aesthetes channeled medieval, Greek, and pastoral styles in muted-color dresses outfitted with puffed sleeves, straight, trained skirts, and unconstricted waists.