Monday, January 13, 2014

Inspiration Library: Magazines, Catalogues & Quarterlies

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Since taking Portfolio at school last quarter, I've become a lot more mindful of different types of media as sources of inspiration.  I already had a pretty large collection of knitting magazines and books, so in the new year I've been making it a priority to expand upon the genres in my library that are less represented: photography, history & fashion history, and graphic design in particular.

After I graduated from college, I got lazy about reading.  I equated choosing not to pursue higher academics with choosing not to care about academic subjects at all, but in the years since, I've come to find that I loved and missed those subjects a lot more than I previously thought.  It's taken me a long time to warm up to the idea of jumping back into scholarly reading on my own, but I've finally started seeking out - and enjoying - dense reading materials once again.

So as a result of my rekindled interests, my favorite media to explore lately have been catalogues, magazines, and quarterlies, particularly when they have an intersectional bent.  It's especially interesting to look at the fashions of my favorite sartorial period - immediate post-war to 1962 or so - and then contextualize them in history and culture, and then think about how they are problematic as shit, and then consider how to appreciate them without accepting or endorsing their shittier aspects.  (Still haven't figured that one out - it's a puzzle!)


I started collecting vintage pattern and clothing catalogues as a passing interest - a Frederick & Nelson catalogue from a professor here, a 1985 issue of Vogue Knitting from a friend's destash there - and somewhere in the meantime, I amassed a small collection of them.  Then, a few days ago my friend Sparkle sent me a big, fabulous addition of Vogue sewing pattern magazines and vintage clothing catalogues in the mail, and I realized that my collection is not so small anymore!  When I take the time to page through these magazines and catalogues, I see inspiration hidden everywhere - perhaps not as literal interpretations, but more as seeds of great design that are sometimes encased in '80s backassfugly details and styling.  (Case in point: huge matching angora neck ruffles and sleeve cuffs on perfectly lovely fitted blouse? Um thanks, but no.)

I've also been checking out contemporary magazines and quarterlies at my local bookstores.  Vestoj in particular gets into critical fashion theory, which is an absolute relief to find after crankily consuming contemporary Vogue for years.  The mainstream fashion industry so often leans on tired cliches of exoticism and normalized sexual violence in editorial and advertising content, which is waved away as insignificant by the industry because, well... "it's fashion," as if that explained anything.  It's a breath of fresh air to see fashion being treated like any other medium: significant, complex, reflective of culture, and worth discussing in broader terms.

Not to limit myself only to fashion, though - here are a few current favorite publications of mine.  They are all very pretty, and range from light-hearted explorations of indie design and culture, to gorgeous, challenging selections of writing and visual art.

Vestoj - fashion through an intersectional lens
Lapham's Quarterly - thematic selections of literature, essays, poetry, and art from history
Kinfolk - "discovering new things to cook, make, and do"
Uppercase - "a magazine for the creative and curious"

Sooo that was a very long explanation of what I'm reading and thinking about lately.  If you have any recommendations of magazines or quarterlies that you find beautiful, interesting, or inspiring, I'd love to hear them!

1 comment:

sparkle said...

glad they spark some interest for you...they just screamed right out loud "send us to Cory" so I did. Wouldn't it be awesome if you could purchase some of those patterns listed? Wait, you know how to draft patterns so......