Of Another Fashion

An alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color

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I’m sort of expanding the scope of this project by including this photo of three young Black Nova Scotian women in their summer dresses (ca. 1955). The negative was developed and printed at Georgia Cunningham’s studio in Bridgetown.

While Of Another Fashion is a U.S. based project, there’s good reason to include these Canadians. Most Black Nova Scotians have U.S. roots. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, record numbers of Black Americans (slaves and freedmen and freedwomen) crossed the northern border to settle in Nova Scotia and Halifax, in particular.

Credit: Georgia Cunningham NSARM acc. no. 1989-433 series E no. 1

(Many thanks to Lauren at Nova Scotia Archives for cluing me to this photo!)

I found this Pan Am Airlines promotional photo (ca. 1956) in Christine Yano’s new book on the history of Nisei stewardesses called Airborne Dreams (Duke University Press, 2011). Yano argues that “Japanese American (and later other Asian and Asian American) stewardesses [as they were called in the 1950s] gave Pan Am the ‘look’ of exotic cosmopolitanism” while at the same time gave Asian American women “tremendous exposure to a larger world far beyond their local upbringing. Working for Pan Am as a flight attendant became an education for these women in cosmopolitanism and gendered service.”

The book is available for purchase now.

This photograph of the newly crowned Mrs. Bronze California Toy Edwards was originally published in Jet magazine (23 December 1954). The date is a little confusing because according to Maxine Craig the inaugural year of the Miss Bronze California pageant was in 1961. Maybe the “Mrs.” pageant preceded the “Miss” pageant?

These three women wearing their Sunday Best are singing at the Father’s Day Banquet at the Filipino Christian Church in Los Angeles, California in 1955.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

Two models in gowns designed by Kow Kaneko for a fashion show for Ladies’ Night at the Nisei Veterans reunion pose for a publicity shot. They’re standing in front of Kaneko’s studio in Pasadena, California, 22 July 1958. The models are Etsu Andow (in the dark gown) and Masako Hirano (in the light colored gown).

Photograph by Toyo Miyatake, from the Rafu Shimpo collection at the Japanese American National Museum.

In 2007, a 29-year-old eBay entrepreneur and real estate agent named John Maloof purchased a box of negatives at an auction for $400. He was working with Daniel Pogorzelski on an illustrated history of the Portage Park neighborhood and was hoping to find photographs of the Chicago cityscape in these negatives. Instead, what he found were street photographs taken by a nanny named Vivian Maier between 1950 and the late 1990s. Today, her massive body of work - including the above photograph (taken in Chicago, May 1957) - is on display in a traveling exhibition.

If you haven’t already checked out her street photography, please do. They’re absolutely stunning - unfortunately, though, there are very few photos of people of color.

I just posted some source information on this and other photos in the series on my other blog, Threadbared. While there are several reasons why these images are not exactly a perfect fit for the Of Another Fashion project (the women were/are not U.S. based and the representational history of the images operates within the logics of sartorial Orientalism), I’m including them here because such images - published in LIFE magazine in December 1951 - would have been a part of the national cultural imaginary about race and fashion in the U.S. In this way, these images (like some of the advertisements and editorials I’ve previously posted) reveal something about the complex assemblage of race, gender, fashion, and beauty that would have shaped the ways in which women of color in the U.S. were seen and saw themselves.

Reblogged from garconniere

3 years ago 99 notes

Tagged with:  #1950s

From an article in LIFE magazine (31 December 1951) called “Life Visits the Beach of Passionate Love.” Click here for source information.

3 years ago 29 notes

Tagged with:  #1950s

From an article in LIFE magazine (31 December 1951) called “Life Visits the Beach of Passionate Love.” Click here for more source information.

3 years ago 40 notes

Tagged with:  #1950s

The Japanese American fashion designer Sadohara (L) is seen here with two models at a fashion show in the Statler Hotel, Los Angeles, California (13 September 1956). The woman on the far right is the designer Riye Yoshizawa (see here and here) who helped open the Modern School of Fashion.

Photograph by Toyo Miyatake, from the Rafu Shimpo collection at the Japanese American National Museum.

Pictured here is Helen Soto on a motorcycle in Los Angeles, California (ca. 1952). It’s unclear whether or not the bike is hers.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

This is a picture of my mother Edith Cole Robinson (far left) and her girlfriends hosting a fund-raising event probably somewhere in Westchester County, New York (ca. 1951).

Submitted by Peter J. Robinson, Jr. (New York, NY)

This is my mother, Ogretta Greene Robinson (right) and her cousin, Denise Hodges. The photo was taken in the mid-1950s in Muskegon, Michigan. I believe they were about 20 years old at the time. Denise actually went on to try her hand at modeling in Chicago, and my mother married one of the area’s first black doctors, Dr. Henry Phillip Greene. They both loved high fashion and were great fashion influences on all their daughters.

Submitted by Victoria Greene (Riverside, CA).

This is a found photograph, purchased online as part of a lot. The donor estimates the photo was taken in the 1950s.

Submitted by Jude Bond (Burlington, VT).

From left to right, Carmen Kim, Edith Ahn, and Pearl Kim hanging out at a park in Los Angeles, California 1950.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library