More gems on the theme of Wearable Art to read / listen / watch in the next few months….

The Willi Smith Community Archive

Created as part of the Cooper Hewitt’s exhibition Willi Smith: Street Couture, this online crowdsourced archive brings together a dazzling array of films, performances, patterns, and designs that Smith worked on over the course of his incredibly prolific but tragically short career. There are also a number of wonderful stories by friends and colleagues of Smith, all of which pay testament to his generosity and innovative eye for style.

Featured image: Smith on the set of his 1985 fashion film, Expedition, which featured the Spring 1986 WilliWear collection in Dakar, Senegal. Copyright Mark Bozek.

The Life and Work of Ruby Bailey, Zelda Wynn Valdes, and Ann Lowe by Jonathan Michael Square

Square’s article in the Fashion Studies Journal provides a fascinating introduction to two Harlem based designers from the early twentieth century, Ruby Bailey and Zelda Wynn Valdes. Along with Ann Lowe, they created stunning clothing and costumes, in the face of gender discrimination and racism in early twentieth century New York.

Bentley in performance garb at the Ubangi Club in Harlem, early 1930s.

Singing the gender-bending blues, Sidedoor podcast on Gladys Bentley

Find out more about Harlem Renaissance legend Gladys Bentley in this Smithsonian podcast. Known as a “masculine-garbed, smut-slinging entertainer” who sang “lewd ballads”, Bentley defied convention in both her attire and her love life, living as an out and proud lesbian in the 1920s and 30s, and marrying her partner in 1931.

LEIGH BOWERY AND TABOO, a Live, Illustrated Zoom Talk with Sue Tilley, 17th March 2021

Join legendary performance artist Leigh Bowery’s close friend Sue Tilley to celebrate what would’ve been his 60th birthday. Tilley will share images of Bowery’s and personal recollections from their heady days on the 1980s London club scene.

A Not Unruffled Surface: Contemporary Sculpture and Dress, Henry Moore Institute (ONLINE), 24th February 2021

A free day-long online conference featuring artists and art historians, who will explore the creative possibilities of combining sculpture and dress. Sessions will focus on the architecture of dress, sexuality/feminism and the sculptural potential of costume. Featuring DD favourites Daniel Fountain and Sarah Joy Ford!

Call out for V&A’s landmark Africa Fashion exhibition

Be part of the V&A’s 2022/23 Africa Fashion exhibition by sharing clothes, images, or memories: email, and share pictures and memories on social media, using the hashtag #AfricaFashion

Dressing Dykes: Lesbian Fashion History

Dress historian Eleanor Medhurst set up Dressing Dykes to celebrate lesbian fashion, which is often erased from histories of clothes and costumes. Her blog reveals incredible stories and beautiful outfits – Eleanor can also be seen modelling historical lesbian fashion styles on TikTok!