About the Event
In this symposium inspired by our Berthe Morisot exhibition, curators, scholars, and designers explore the complicated relationship between feminism and fashion.
Mainstream feminism has long argued that the pursuit of fashion is inherently oppressive for women—from the fussy nineteenth-century ensembles depicted by Berthe Morisot to the sexualized styles pervading today’s pop culture. In recent decades, however, a more inclusive, intersectional feminism has opened up a way of thinking about fashion as a powerful form of self-definition and political expression. Hardly restrictive, fashion is now viewed as a versatile tool with enormous potential for subverting expectations around gender and sexuality; for delivering sharp political statements; and for asserting one’s own agency in a culture that constantly wants to prescribe what women should be. Even the corseted women in Morisot’s paintings might be understood as harnessing fashion’s potential to express something of the self.
Talks will address clothing’s role in political movements like black women’s liberation and nineteenth-century dress reform; the relationship between sexuality, objectification, and empowerment; and the portrayal of fashion in art forms like film and painting. We will also hear from two cutting-edge designers whose work actively addresses some of the key concerns of contemporary intersectional feminism.
The afternoon concludes with a reception and feminist fashion show across the parkway at Moore College of Art & Design (free for ticket holders).
Session One 1 – 3:15pm
Welcome and Introduction
Martha Lucy and Cindy Kang
Redressing Fashion and Feminism
Linda Scott, Professor Emeritus and DP World Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Oxford, and author of Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism
“But What of Black Women?” Fashioning Black Women’s Liberation
Rikki Byrd, writer, scholar and educator on fashion and race, and Ph.D. student at Northwestern University
Fashion and Self-Fashioning in the Films of Sofia Coppola
Suzanne Ferriss, Professor Emeritus at Nova Southeastern University
Panel discussion and Q&A
Session Two 3:30 – 5pm
Wearing the Pants: A Brief Overview of Fashion and Feminism
Clare Sauro, chief curator, Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection at Drexel University
Designers in Dialogue: Charles Harbison and Nasheli Juliana Ortiz González
A conversation between two cutting-edge designers whose work addresses some of the key issues of contemporary intersectional feminism. Charles Harbison is designer and founder of HARBISON; Nasheli Juliana Ortiz González is chair and associate professor of fashion design at Moore College of Art & Design.
Martha Lucy is an art historian specializing in modern European art and visual culture. She has published many articles and essays on topics ranging from the early charcoals of Odilon Redon to contemporary installation art.
Kang was part of the curatorial team that organized Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist and a contributing author for the exhibition catalogue. She is a specialist in 19th-century French art and previously taught art history at New York University and Yeshiva University.
Byrd's research has appeared at Art Basel: Miami and has been published in various academic journals and books. She has also written for Teen Vogue, Art.sy, and Hyperallergic, among other media outlets. She has lectured and participated in panel discussions and most recently was a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis. She is currently a Ph.D. student in African American Studies at Northwestern University.
Published widely on Romantic and Modernist literature, literary criticism, gender theory, film adaptation, and cultural studies, Ferriss' work on fashion and feminism includes two edited collections, On Fashion and Footnotes: On Shoes, and two companion volumes on “chick culture”: Chick Lit: The New Woman’s Fiction and Chick Flicks: Contemporary Women at the Movies.
As curator of the Fox Historic Costume Collection (FHCC), Sauro has mounted several notable exhibitions including Brave New World: Fashion & Freedom, 1911–1919 and Immortal Beauty: Highlights from the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection. In addition to her role in the FHCC, Sauro teaches courses in the history of fashion.
Charles began his professional career as a textile designer before moving on to womenswear at Michael Kors. He continued with stints at Luca Luca and Billy Reid, producing both womenswear and accessories. Charles launched his collection, HARBISON, in NYC in 2013, with womenswear, menswear, and accessories exploring the his central themes: ease, modernity, art, and gender.
Nasheli Juliana Ortiz González
Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, Nasheli received an MFA from Savannah College of Art & Design in Fashion Design. She has worked for designers based in New York, Italy, Mexico, London, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Her brand, Nasheli Juliana, works with research of political, social, and religious issues from an apparel point of view. Nasheli has presented collections both nationally and internationally and has been featured in magazines such as Vogue and Forbes.