All posts by Jaclyn Anglis

ISSUE: Native American Headdress Misappropriation

Christina Fallin, daughter of an Oklahoma governor, received criticism when she posted this promotional photo on Instagram. In response, she wrote, "Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves with your beautiful things. We do so with the utmost respect."
Christina Fallin, daughter of an Oklahoma governor, received criticism when she posted this promotional photo for her music on Instagram in March. In response, she wrote, “Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves with your beautiful things. We do so with the utmost respect.”

Jessica Metcalfe, a Native American fashion boutique owner, always braces herself for this time of year – music festival season.

Metcalfe, 33, says during those festivals, some non-Native people in popular culture are misappropriating the sacred Native American headdress.

Last month, Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio posted a photo of herself wearing a headdress for the festival Coachella with the caption, “Becoming more inspired for @coachella with this amazing Native American headpiece.”

Metcalfe, who grew up on a North Dakota reservation as part of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe, says misappropriation is an issue since the headdress is sacred in her background, since it’s made from eagle feathers. She says eagles are seen as an intermediary between human beings and their creator, and leaders have to do good deeds to earn those feathers.

“We need to protect our use and our traditional practices and our values,” Metcalfe says. “Whenever we see the headdress, it’s a major form of community.”

Ambrosio and other non-Native people often cite inspiration or admiration as reasons why they choose to wear headdresses or other Native garments.

“So what we want to do is use that as kind of a foot in the door, a way to kind of reach out to these people, to educate them a little bit more,” Metcalfe says.

At her online boutique, Beyond Buckskin, Metcalfe wrote a blog post about wearing Native-inspired clothing without misappropriating the culture.

Since Beyond Buckskin represents Native fashion designers, many of those items can be bought there. Metcalfe says everything at the boutique is meant for both Native and non-Native people to wear.

“Tying back to the headdress, that’s what people think is Native because that’s all that they’ve been exposed to,” Metcalfe says. “That’s why on Beyond Buckskin, you’ll see hopefully a lot of cultures represented.”

MINI PROFILE: Connie De la Cruz (Revised)

An example of Connie De la Cruz's pieces from her Transformation Stone collection. Found at Style.com.
Connie De la Cruz likes to show emotion in her fashion collections through folds in the garments. This jacket is one example of her work from her Transformation Stone collection. This photo and others can be found here.

Connie De la Cruz’s fashion pieces always tell a story.

“I would say personal experiences are a big thing for me,” De la Cruz said. “I’m inspired by my feelings and emotions.”

De la Cruz, 22, a slim brunette from the Dominican Republic, said her interest in fashion sparked before high school. She had always paid attention to detail. So she loves detail in patterns in fashion design.

She attended an affiliate Parsons school in the Dominican Republic before transferring to Parsons in New York, where she lives now.

“There’s something about here that I really, really like,” she said. “Everyone’s focused on their thing. They want to get somewhere, they want to do something, they want to be someone.”

And De la Cruz is on her way. Last year, she was a finalist for her thesis collection. This January, she started freelancing for Calvin Klein. But she still designs her own work.

Most of De la Cruz’s garments – hoods, pockets and detachable capes – are based on folds. These folds represent feelings, and the concept of either letting emotions go or keeping them inside.

To further emphasize emotions, she designs folds with wide bottoms that become narrower as they get closer to the neckline. The outfit essentially points to the person wearing it.

And De la Cruz points to her story through her design.

She just started work on her pre-fall collection, in which she plans to focus on distortions.

“Some designers just design and they have really cool ideas and really cool material, but at the end, it’s not saying anything about them,” De la Cruz said. “What did the designer have to do to get there? What was the designer thinking about when he did it?”

Not everyone asks themselves those questions. But De la Cruz does.

NEWS: Dita Von Teese Launches New Lingerie Brand

Dita Von Teese (center) at the launch of her new lingerie brand at Bloomingdale's. Mar. 20, 2014.
Dita Von Teese (center) at the launch of her new lingerie brand at Bloomingdale’s. Mar. 20, 2014.

Several 20 and 30-something women (and a few men) lined up underneath fluorescent lights and next to lingerie displays from Le Mystere to Spanx for a chance to meet the queen of boudoir fashion – Dita Von Teese – at Bloomingdale’s on Third Avenue on Thursday night.

“This is the exclusive launch in the United States,” a press representative for Bloomingdales said when asked about the event.

Some pieces on display for Dita Von Teese's new lingerie collection.
Some pieces on display for Dita Von Teese’s new lingerie collection. Mar. 20, 2014.

Von Teese,  famous for burlesque dancing and at one time being married to singer Marilyn Manson, celebrated the launch of her namesake brand in the intimate apparel section of the department store. Her line featured intimate apparel and sleepwear with a focus on old Hollywood glamour. Customers who made a purchase had the opportunity to meet Von Teese and get her autograph.

Models showcased Dita Von Teese's lingerie line at the intimate apparel section in Bloomingdale's.
Models showcased Dita Von Teese’s lingerie line at the intimate apparel section in Bloomingdale’s. Mar. 20, 2014.

Von Teese arrived by 6 p.m., surrounded by models showing  pieces on display.  She promptly began meeting with people in the line.

Over 100 people stood in line to meet Von Teese, some of whom were not guaranteed entry. Initially, Bloomingdale’s could only guarantee 100 people could meet her based on how much time she spent with each person. A Bloomingdale’s representative declined to comment on why or how often this happens with meet-and-greet events at the store.

But as time went on, people at the end of the line found out they would able to meet her after all.

The pieces ranged in price from $25 to $400. In the line, there was an emphasis on dark, rich colors, along with lace trimming and some animal prints.

Dita Von Teese at the launch of her new lingerie line, posing for photos between meeting with fans. Mar. 20, 2014.
Dita Von Teese at the launch of her new lingerie line, posing for photos between meeting with fans. Mar. 20, 2014.

When asked about her dress she wore to the launch, Von Teese said it was designed by Zac Posen.

The Bloomingdale’s press person said the Dita Von Teese line is now available for purchase at select Bloomingdale’s, and on Bloomingdales.com.

Critical Assessment: Alexander McQueen: The Life and the Legacy by Judith Watt

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What do Jack the Ripper, antlers and padded shoulders have in common?

They are all things that showed up in “fashion world’s darling,” Alexander McQueen’s collections during his life. He is remembered today for the outrageous outfits he created in the 1990s and 2000s. But fashion author, journalist and historian Judith Watt wrote a biography on him that focused on both his fashion and his life.

Alexander McQueen: The Life and Legacy is a book that attempts to paint a more complete picture of the designer. In many ways it succeeds. The reader learns about McQueen’s early years in a working-class family in London. He was the only boy in a class of forty girls at a synchronized swimming class who read fashion books at age 12. Learning about McQueen’s self-described awareness of being the “pink sheep” in his family set the stage nicely for fashion to come – antlers included.

From his MA fashion course to his early shows to his eventual work with Givenchy, no chapter of McQueen’s life feels rushed. Watt includes quotes from many people who knew him well, showing insiders’ perspectives on his ascent in the fashion world.  Watt also doesn’t shy away from the negative points in his life, from accusations of misogyny in his shows to his cocaine abuse. After all, this is a biography and not a love letter.

Something that adds extra value is that there are many pictures throughout the book of his early drawings, examples of pieces from his collections and a few pictures of the man behind it all. Though it would have been ideal to see more pictures of McQueen, it was somewhat fitting that those photos were limited. McQueen was known for living a private life despite his very public fashion. In many ways, fashion was his life.