A Stain on an All-American Brand

A Stain on an All-American Brand

How Brooks Brothers Once Clothed Slaves

What lesson are we to take from this evidence of profiteering from human servitude in the foundational years of Brooks Brothers? This is a question that other American institutions are being asked recently. Perhaps due to their nature as loci of inquiry and self-reflection, many universities have been on the forefront of exploring their connections to slavery and atoning for the ways in which they profited from the labour and sale of enslaved peoples. Brooks Brothers, and other for-profit entities, have not.

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New Dresses

New Dresses

Helen pouted, and dragged over to the swing for comfort. She swung high, and thought Doctor Malcolm was a most beautiful man – and wondered if his dog had finished the plate of bones in the backyard. Decided to go and see. Slower she swung, then took a flying leap; her tight skirt caught on a nail – there was a sharp, tearing sound – quickly she glanced at the others – they had not noticed – and then at the frock – at a hole big enough to stick her hand through. She felt neither frightened nor sorry.

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Cochleate Couture, or Hearing A La Mode

Cochleate Couture, or Hearing A La Mode

Towards an Aesthetics of the Hearing Aid

That aural impairment is as old as hearing itself is evidenced by a Neolithic female skull unearthed by archaeologists in 1955. By itself, the skull would not be especially remarkable were it not for a prosthetic seashell ‘ear’ surgically implanted, and still seamlessly intact. Its purpose was not purely ornamental: the shell served as a functional conduit for vibration. This is implant and earring, ornament and augmentation: not yet bionic, but somehow presciently cyborg in its arrangement.

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Dial FM For Fun

Dial FM For Fun

Riki pulled the towel closer to cover the wide expanses of rosy flesh between the top and bottom of an extremely scanty bikini. Obviously this guy was a real hick who just didn’t know any better. His Southern drawl was a give-away. He probably didn’t even know that this kind of a pass might get him a slap in the face from most girls.

But then, Riki wasn’t most girls! Not by a long shot. It might be fun to lead this square on a little. Just for kicks. With a coy glance, Riki let the towel slip down to expose part of one sun-tinted swell of flesh.

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On Michael Cohen’s Jackets

On Michael Cohen’s Jackets

Cohen favours indiscreet European luxury: Hermès ‘H’ belts, Italian tailoring, open-necked shirts. He wears clothes like sportscars wear their badges. In court he appears in suits, but prefers soft jackets with loud patterns, worn with loafers and jeans. In corporate law and finance, clothes are expected to reassure clients; you should present a successful business, but not flaunt your bonus. In Cohen’s line of work, lawyers talk, and dress, more like prize fighters.

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Dressing Like a Madwoman

Dressing Like a Madwoman

On Amanda Bynes, Little Edie and the Time I Quit Fashion

There are two photographs of Amanda Bynes on my desktop titled ‘covers.’ In one she is wearing a combination that had since turned cool but for me will always whisper ‘This is all I could bring myself to pull over my feet’: sliders and socks. Covering her head and face is what the media called a ‘blanket,’ but is actually a grey paisley scarf, the kind you might buy in a train station and use once, then forget about.

I am mesmerized by the image. The scarf is to fashion what silence is to language. It affords Bynes temporary inscrutability, a fleeting space between her body and her covers, where she may momentarily withdraw from our gaze.

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How It Is

How It Is

A Poem

American Poet Maxine Kumin wrote this poem in 1974, after the suicide of her friend, the poet Anne Sexton. During their lives, the poets often exchanged title ideas, manuscripts and clothing. ‘One of the joys of our relationship was the ease with which we traded dresses back and forth, and shoes, and pocketbooks, and coats,’ Kumin has said.

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