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The Skirt Chronicles #1

10 juli 2017, Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum

When my colleague Marc mentioned the expected arrival of The Skirt Chronicles in our store, my curiosity was immediately ignited. For me, the title raised expectations of a book filled with research, curatorship and textiles.  And here it is, on my desk. It’s beautiful. Its design breathes a kind of austerity, although the magazine has no less than 134 pages. While perusing quickly, the striking content also left me quite confused. I saw photos of windows, an elegant fashion shoot in Paris, a recipe of a pasta dish and an essay about the position of black women.

 

 

After the perusing I started reading, and slowly began to understand the relation between the title and the content. The Skirt Chronicles wants to ‘create a collaborative platform which celebrates a community of different cultures and generations.’ The magazine is organised chronologically according to the order of completion of the featured pieces, and the content page cum timeline shows how and when.

The two editors-in-chief Sofia Nebiolo and Haydée Touitou recall a story in their foreword of a woman living in the French mountains. She always wore long skirts, no matter how unpractical given the landscape and lifestyle. Even after the revolutionary year 1968 it took a while before the new fashion rules reached the village. Then women started wearing trousers, but most women in that mountain village started wearing mini skirts. That was also allowed, and had their preference.

Reading the articles thoroughly, it becomes clear that this little story functions almost as a metaphor for being who you are and choosing who you want to be. Why keep your mouth shut if Yale university doesn’t want to change the name of a dormitory when that dorm has the name of a pro-slavery advocate. Read what follows in a very interesting article by Hugo Partouche.

And nuns spending their time creating the perfect beauty oils and creams? That seems an odd juxtaposition. But in the solitude of their abbey nuns seem to always have strongly believed in the healing power of nature and have financially supported their cloisters with their artisanal products. Nebiolo comes up with a few smooth examples from Britain, France and even India.

 

 

Gigi Ettedgui contributes with an excerpt of her MA history dissertation from Edinburgh University about the Yves Saint Laurent’s Collection Quarante in 1971. As the name suggests, the collection was inspired by what women wore during the occupation, which raised a national outrage at the time. Ettedgui discusses the context, the role of the French resistance and the Zazous rebelism in Vichy France. The re-activation of -for many- repressed memories raised confusion. Food for historians this piece!

A great photo series in this magazine is made in the church Saint-Sulpice, Paris. It refers to the so-called Sulpician style of, for instance, stained glass windows and statuettes of saints. Sobriety and elegance go well together. Many skirts to be seen here, phew! Also from Paris an interview with Sylvia Whitman, daughter of founder George Whitman, who was named after Sylvia Plath and runs the Shakespeare and Compapy bookstore..

You have to really dive into The Skirt Chronicles, it doesn’t reveal itself easily. But there’s a lot to discover if you do. Oh and the pasta recipe was originally served in honor of the earthquake in Amatrice on August 24, 2016.

Buy your copy here!

 

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