Dressed: The History of Fashion

Dressed: The History of Fashion

With over 8 billion people in the world, we all have one thing in common: everyday, we all get dressed. Join fashion historians April Calahan and Cassidy Zachary in celebrating the who, what, when of why we wear throughout history and around the world.

Episodes

February 22, 2024 60 mins

In the early years of the twentieth century, Madam C.J. Walker built an international, Black hair care empire from the ground floor up, transforming herself from a laundry work making $1.50 a day to the woman Guinness World Records identifies as the “first self-made millionairess.” This week, we learn all about her extraordinary life in an interview with her biographer—and great, great granddaughter—A’Lelia Bundles. 

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In part II of our episode on The Costume Institute's exhibition Women Dressing Women, co-curator Mellissa Huber takes us behind the scenes and shines a light on some of the invisible labor which does into mounting a major fashion in a museum. Can't make the show? Grab a copy of the amazing exhibition catalog here!

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This week we are joined by Mellissa Huber and Karen Van Godtsenhoven, curators of The Costume Institute's exhibition Women Dressing Women, which is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through March 10, 2024. The exhibition explores more than 100 years of fashion history via the work of women designers and centers their contributions to the industry at large. Can't make the show? Grab a copy of the am...

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Fourth generation flower maker Adam Brand takes us behind the scenes of his family's business M&S Schmalberg. Founded by his family in 1916, the company is the last of its kind in America.

M&S Schmalberg's website and Instagram

Etsy store with a 20% discount just for Dressed listeners!

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Fifth generation master pleater George Kalajian’s family has been perfecting the art of the pleat since the 19th century. He joins us to discuss the past, present, and future of his family’s renowned pleating enterprise Tom’s Sons International Pleating, a staple of New York City’s Garment District since the 1970s.

Tom's Sons International Pleating's website and Instagram

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Our favorite vedette, Dita Von Teese, joins us this for part 2 of our conversation this week to chat about being the first-ever guest star at Paris' legendary cabaret, the Crazy House and her current residency in Las Vegas. Her show Dita Las Vegas: A Jubilant Revue is onstage now at the Jubilee Theater, formerly home to iconic acts including Frank Sinatra as well as the showgirl review Jubilee, which ran for 40 years. Dita chat...

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We are kicking off our seventh season of Dressed in spectacular style as we are joined all this week by the one and only Dita Von Teese!

A longtime vintage collector and star of the neo-burlesque scene, Dita's impact on contemporary visual culture cannot be underestimated. In part one of this two-part episode, we chat about her relationship with vintage style on and off stage and some of the amazing designers she works with to c...

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This week's mini-sode from the Dressed archive explores the story of Juli Lynne Charlot who created an instantly recognizable 1950s classic: the poodle skirt.

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What do millionaires, harlequins and cigarettes have to do with the iconic cat-eye frame? Tune into this fascinating episode from the Dressed archive to find out.

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This week we revisit our 2020 episode dedicated to the work of costume designer, fashion historian and expert on the history of paper patterns, Joy Spanabel Emery, who for many years also served as the Curator of the Commercial Pattern Archive at the University of Rhode Island. Her book A History of the Pattern Pattern: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution is considered a definitive work on the topic, which we know is near and d...

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This week we revisit our episode with fashion historian, couture collector, museum curator, author and Vogue Global Editor-at-Large, Hamish Bowles. He joined us in 2020 to share the childhood origins of his passion for fashion history and the building blocks of his extraordinary life and career.

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This week we explore the symbiotic relationships between modern women, fashion, and cars at the dawn of the twentieth century.

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How did a practical device for catching fish become a coveted and controversial fashion staple? This week, we explore the fascinating thousand-year plus history behind fishnets.

Recommended reading:


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Today we revisit our 2020 episode with Kate Sekules who joined us to chat about her book Mend!: A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto which details the history of mending, contemporary visible mending practices and offers tips and techniques to get readers started on their own mending adventures. You can find more on Kate's work at visiblemending.com.

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On the heels of New Year's Day, we revisit the 2019 episode on the history of not only men's suits and formalwear, but specifically the tuxedo. Congrats to our friend Chloe Chapin, who since this episode first aired, is now officially Dr. Chapin!

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We revisit our interview with artist Kirstie Macleod who joined us in 2021 to share the stories behind The Red Dress Project, her then eleven year collaboration empowering women artisans from around the world to share their stories through embroidery. Fast forward to today and the now 14 year old project includes millions of stitches from the work of 380 embroiders from 51 countries.

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We revisit our episode with filmmaker Adele Pham, who joined us in 2021 to discuss her documentary film Nailed It, which explores the history and influence of Vietnamese American nail salons. 

Recommended link

  • More information on Nailed It can be found here
  • Watch Nailed It

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This week we revisit our two-part episode with one of fashion's living legends, Norma Kamali, whose work has defined the American fashion scene for five decades. In this second part, Norma speaks about rebuilding her business after divorce and creative spaces in fashion in the wake of the pandemic.

Recommended Reading: Kamali, Norma and Susan Brown. Norma Kamali: I am Invincible. New York: Abrams, 2021.

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This week we revisit our two-part episode with one of fashion's living legends, Norma Kamali, whose work has defined the American fashion scene for five decades. From her education as a fashion illustrator to building her brand from the ground up--not once--but twice, Kamali shares her thoughts on life, love and style.

Recommended Reading: Kamali, Norma and Susan Brown. Norma Kamali: I am Invincible. New York: Abrams, 2021.

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This week we revisit our interview with Academy Award-winning costume designer John Bright to discuss his prolific film and television career spanning five decades. A collector of historic fashion, John is also the founder and owner of the world's leading costume house Cosprop.

Further learning:

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April Calahan

April Calahan

Cassidy Zachary

Cassidy Zachary

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