New life, new round of changes

It’s been a while since I last wrote. And if you read my last monthly update or follow me on Instagram, I probably don’t need to tell you that I’ve been dealing with a lot of changes, especially since I moved to London last month.

The past few weeks have been absolutely enjoyable as I explore the city, meet new people, and more generally try to consciously design my new life. But they’ve also been super busy as I figure out the ins and outs of my new job, try to balance it with my ongoing responsibilities at The Fashion and Race Database, and continue to navigate my independent pursuits as a curator and consultant.

In addition to “regular” work duties, I’ve also had the opportunity to present a bit of my work on Indigenous tailors in the northern Andes at the University of Cambridge’s workshop on Material Culture in the Early Modern World, attend a very enlightening talk on cultural appropriation and 18th-century masquerades by Meg Kobza, and conspire on a secret (for now) research project with my favorites Serena Dyer and Olga Acosta 🤩

I was also very pleased that the first delivery to my new work address was my author copy of the upcoming book Latin American and Latinx Fashion Design Today – ¡Moda Hoy! to which I contributed a chapter on Indigenous fashion. I’ve also added new pieces to my ever-growing reading list, starting with Everyday Fashion: Interpreting British Clothing Since 1600, edited by Bethan Bide, Jade Halbert, and Liz Tregenza—especially after Bethan herself mentioned it contributes to the ongoing questioning of a strict separation of “fashion” and “dress” in a comment to this Instagram post.

And my little fan-girl moment of this first month in the UK: I met John Styles (known in my Spanish-speaking mind as “el gran capo” of 18th-century fashion history) in person. Needless to say that I was beyond excited when he actually asked about my research and mentioned that we will see each other again.

So, to put it shortly, the last month or so has been quite the journey!

Throughout this journey I’ve also been reflecting a lot about my purpose and how I want to move forward in this career I’ve chosen as a “public-facing scholar.” More importantly to me, I’ve been super mindful of where I want to set boundaries and how I want to use my energy to avoid driving myself into the sort of burnout that I experienced last year.

This newsletter/blog, my Redressing Fashion podcast, and my social media activities have certainly occupied a big portion of my reflections—not just because they’re super dear and personal to me but also because they’re a strategic tool in my mission to make “academic” knowledge more widely disseminated and hopefully accessible to all.

While I’m more convinced than ever that I want to continue with this public-facing side of my scholarly pursuits, I also realize that I now have two jobs and a bunch of entrepreneurial responsibilities that require a lot of my energy and attention.

So I need to step back.

Table set detail, featuring a cup of cappuccino, Laura's hand with a large pearl ring and a smaller ring with a rectangular ruby and small diamonds, and a tablet screen featuring some text on fashion film.

I must confess, though, that doing so makes me feel like a flimsy person who just can’t make up her mind and keeps changing plans. But I also realize that my attempts to protect my wellbeing are also a way of resisting social expectations and perhaps even a step towards “decolonization.” And my fantastic mentor-friends Kimberly M. Jenkins and Cesar Peña have expressed their appreciation of how I try to embrace change and navigate my internal debates openly on social media, so here I am trying to lean into those abilities.

So here’s my new plan—for however long it lasts:

  1. I’ll go back to two newsletter issues per month, where I will continue sharing learning resources and “food for thought” as well as my favorite “loose thoughts” (and they’ll all be archived in my website’s “blog” section);
  2. New podcast episodes will go live every two weeks, alternating between newsletters—and I’ll make sure to email you a brief summary and link to listen so you don’t miss any of them;
  3. I will continue to report on my intellectual inquiries in my monthly installment for FRD’s newsletter “from Laura’s desk”;
  4. On Sunday Feb. 25th I’ll host the monthly session of my book club and you still can register to participate; and
  5. I’ll return to posting more regularly on Instagram and reply to all pending comments and messages now that I finally feel that the moving whirlwind is starting to calm down. (Should I get back on TikTok, too?)

A bonus point for my Spanish speakers: we’re developing new courses, continuing our publicly acclaimed reading club, and planning a very exciting fashion trip over at Culturas de Moda, so please check it out if you feel so inclined!

As always, thank you, thank you for reading. In line with today’s ideas, I also want to thank you for staying with me through all the changes and journeys that my life in fashion has brought—even if sometimes unexpectedly!

Until next week,

—L 🩷

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