New Book: Charles James: Portrait of an Unreasonable Man

Inspired by Celia Hartmann’s lightning talk Charles James at the annual conference, I poked around Amazon and landed on the new biography Charles James: Portrait of an Unreasonable Man: Fame, Fashion, Art. Sounds like a must for anyone fascinated by this incredible designer!

Free Event: The Seventeeth Annual Richard Martin Costume Studies Symposium

What: The Seventeenth Annual Richard Martin Costume Studies Symposium

When: Friday, April 6th 6:00-8:00pm

Where: Einstein Auditorium, New York University
34 Stuyvesant Street
New York, NY 10003

Guest Speaker:
Vanessa Friedman
Fashion Director, The New York Times

Presentations by M.A. Candidates in Costume Studies:
Laura Gust – “The Spectral Female: The Semiotic Function of the Nightgown within Gothic Visual Culture”
Nicole Truscinski – “Smoke & Mirrors: Dressing the American Woman in Freedom and Virginia Slims”
Lauren Richter-Suriñach – “The Last of the Fashion Illustrators: Women’s Wear Daily in the 1980s”
Olivia Warschaw – “’Disney Fans Are Their Own Breed’: An Exploration of DisneyBound”

Free and Open to the Public

Further information may be found at this link.


ARLIS conference in Salt Lake City 2019

We hope that everyone got a lot out of this year’s conference in New York City.

Were you moved or inspired by our Fashion and Textile Lightning Talks?  Do you have a fashion, textile, or costumes-related paper or a project that you’ve been working on and would like to share?   Do you know of any librarians, archivists, historians, scholars, or curators who you think would want to attend and speak at the conference?  Are there any SLC-area sites that fashion, textile, and costume librarians would be interested in visiting?

Let us know!  Officially calls are not yet open for the SLC conference, but if you have any ideas, please share them with us by commenting below, by emailing Jen Weinraub, or by going to the SLC conference page.

Fashion & Textile Lightning Talks Summary

The Lightning Talks took place on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at the 46th Annual ARLIS/NA Conference in New York, and were moderated by Lauren Gavin, Technical Services / Reference Librarian at LIM College.  The talks illustrated the many facets of fashion librarianship and archives work at museums and libraries and embodied the conference theme “Out of Bounds.”

Lynora Williams, “An Unlikely Second Act: Overseeing the Evolution of a Textile Library as a Solo Librarian”

Lynora Williams, Librarian at the Arthur D. Jenkins Library at The Textile Museum, The George Washington University Museum, in Washington, DC, provided a history of the library.  The library and Textile Museum were chartered in 1925 by George Hewitt Myers and were folded into The George Washington University starting in 2011.  It moved into a new location in 2015. As a leading resource for the study of textiles, the library’s multilingual collection offers researchers access to artistic, cultural, historical, and technical information related to the textile arts. The library’s collection includes monographs, serials, ephemera, auction catalogs, slides, and videotapes. Highlights include rare out-of-print books, beautifully illustrated monographs, and the personal documents of important textile scholars such as Irene Emery and Charles Grant Ellis. Visit their website to learn more and to sign up for their e-newsletter.

Julie Lê, “#FASHIONLIBRARIANSHIP: A Case Study on the Use of Instagram in a Specialized Museum Library Collection”

Julie Lê, Assistant Museum Librarian at the Costume Institute’s Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, discussed the Instagram account that she started for the library.  The page acts as a supplement to the library catalog for the library’s visually-attuned patrons.  Careful planning goes into the Instagram page. Every day, three posts on one resource are made, in order to populate the Instagram page in an organized, symmetrical manner. Three months of posts were prepared before the project was implemented.   Julie highlights the niche, overlooked, diverse resources in the library collection. Each post includes the title of the item that is depicted; a link to the item’s record in the library catalog; hashtags; and a geotag. The page now has over 37,000 followers from over 150 countries.  A variety of tools are used for image editing and analytics, and are outlined in this document that Julie shared.

Alexandra Duncan, “Crossing the threshold: innovations in information literacy”

Alexandra Duncan, Librarian at Central Saint Martins Library, University of the Arts London, spoke about an information literacy instruction program she established at London College of Fashion, also at UAL, in collaboration with a course leader/instructor.  The term “information literacy” was reframed as “digital literacy,” which provided a more positive reception of the material.  Over three sessions, threshold concepts such as Searching as Strategic Exploration and Authority is Constructed and Contextual were introduced with interactive activities such as: distinguishing between metadata and the item itself, mind mapping, citation-chasing, and source evaluation.  

Celia Hartmann, “Many Hands: Cross-Department Collaboration in Processing the Charles James papers at The Metropolitan Museum of Art”

Celia Hartmann, Assistant Archivist at the Museum Archives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, presented on the papers of the fashion designer Charles James.  In addition to traditional, paper-based materials, James’s collection also includes “photographs, sketches, paintings, paper and muslin patterns, art supplies, and other three-dimensional materials, including dress forms.”  The Charles James papers, 1704-1978 has a finding aid made with Archivists’ Toolkit, and is cataloged in Watsonline.  A series of five eye-opening blog posts can be found in the Museum Libraries’ blog, In Circulation.

Lana Bittman, “Stylish Scholarship: Historical Fashion Forecast Archives at the Fashion Institute of Technology Library”

Lana Bittman, Assistant Professor-Librarian at the Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY in New York, provided a look into FIT’s historical forecast archive.  The archive spans from the late nineteenth century through 2017 and consists of color swatches, fabric samples, and more.  Among the services mentioned were Color Association of the United States, Nigel French, IM International, Presage, and Promostyl.  The majority of the collection was donated.  In 2015, a New York State Education Department grant was awarded to help process and protect the collection.  Many classes at FIT utilize the library’s current forecasting materials; the historical forecasts are available to classes as well as researchers.

Sandra Ley, “Fashionable E-Resources for Academics and Industry-Insiders”

Sandra Ley, Fashion & Visual Arts Librarian at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, and Talia Richards, Social Media and Marketing Manager at Springshare, discussed a collaborative Libguides data mining project.  Sandra hoped to identify fashion-related electronic resources that might be of interest at Pima. Vendors tend to overlook smaller institutions in their outreach and marketing efforts, making it harder to learn about new e-resources.  The project presented several challenges, including obtaining permission from Libguides owners, data presented as rich text instead of assets, and deduping. In the end, a manual analysis of Libguides on fashion, costume, and apparel from these institutions was determined to be a better approach.


  • A question was posed to Alexandra Duncan on the use of databases in instruction.
  • There was a question about copyright concerns in regards to the Costume Institute Library’s Instagram account.  Images that depict books as objects/ephemera are not subject to the same copyright concerns as reproduced content.
  • There was a request to make presentations available in PDF format.