Some of you may have seen on Instagram that I’ve been having a bit of a breakup—or breakdown?—with fashion recently. But, despite the alarming posts, I am not quite ready to quit fashion. (At least not yet.)
What I did need very badly was a real break.
So after spending part of the summer wrapping up some research projects for publication that I had lined up, I took a few weeks (almost) off to recover from the burnout caused by trying to juggle between my full-time job as a Professor and my (also full-time) research duties as I completed my doctorate. I needed some time to process everything that has happened over the past few years, think about what I want to do next, and most importantly, get some good rest.
The latter I did in Cartagena, in the Colombian Caribbean, where I spent a little over a week with my family, just chilling by the pool or the sea, soaking in all the sun I could, biking around the historic town, and reading a novel for the first time in forever. I purposefully chose to leave all of my electronics and work behind and it was truly magical.
Upon my return to the city, I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts as I finish trying process everything that has happened over the past few crazy and very intense years and figure out what comes next.
But some things are clear.
As weird as it sounds, I am now “Dr. Laura” and it feels truly amazing to have completed such a massive research project. I am not sure if I want to turn my dissertation into a book or an exhibition or some sort of Digital Humanities project just yet, but I am still very much committed to continuing researching fashion, art, and design history and theory. And after taking a break from teaching for several months, I might also consider taking another professorial job.
Most importantly, I remain committed to bridging the many spaces between art and design scholarship and the creative industries and art market today. Luckily enough, I can continue to work with two incredible projects that are aimed precisely at that: The Fashion and Race Database and Culturas de Moda. We’re planning lots of exciting things on both ends so do stay tuned for more information on either side.
Food for thought
Some of my favorite “intellectual” picks from the month (or actually season) were:
1. Book of the month:
Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse’s and Aldona Jonaitis’s Unsettling Native Art Histories on the Northwest Coast (2022) was my faithful companion for most of the summer, as I advanced my research on Indigenous fashion in Abya Yala (also known as “Latin America”). While the book is not exclusively on fashion, but rather covers Native American arts more broadly, with a focus on the Pacific Northwest, it did offer a lot of insights on how to research and (re)write the many histories of global Indigenous fashion and textile arts.
One of the down sides of not wanting to travel a lot and needing to take a real break from work was that I didn’t plan to attend the Santa Fe Indian Market (SWAIA). Even if I’m thankful for forcing myself to actually pause, I also kind of regret not traveling to Santa Fe. And, while this doesn’t even begin to replace the experience of attending the Market, I truly enjoyed the interview with Amber-Dawn Bear Robe, fashion curator of SWAIA Indigenous Fashion, and review of the fashion show on Dressed.
Can I even consider recommending an exhibition other than ¡Moda Hoy! Latin American and Latinx Fashion Design Today at the Museum at FIT? I don’t think so. I won’t get into the details, since I wrote a full review of the exhibition for a scholarly journal (coming soon). What I will say is that, while I would have wanted the curatorial narrative to engage a bit more critically with ethical issues around “sustainability” and Indigenous heritage/design in Latin America, I do believe this exhibition to be a thorough starting point for future exhibitions (and more research) on Latin American fashion beyond exotic stereotypes.
4. In non-fashion stuff…
I just devoured Ari Rodríguez’s podcast, which explores the many meeting points between science and spirituality. I also had the chance to meet Ari in Cartagena and I just can’t put into words the impact that our conversation has had in my reflections about the chapter in my life that I am currently beginning. So if you’re interested in mental health, neuroscience, spirituality, or just want to tune into super interesting conversations with experts in different spiritual practices (and feel some of Ari’s contagiously beautiful energy), I recommend giving it a listen.
Coming up next month
- I am working on a new blog and newsletter structure as I dedicate more time and energy to growing my practice as independent research and educator, so expect more frequent updates (and a change in platform) starting next week!
- This Saturday (Sept. 2nd) I will be attending the first workshop hosted by the Making Historical Dress Network and, although I might start a bit sleepy with the time change, I can’t wait to learn from my dear colleagues and friends in the UK. Make sure to check out their entire programming in the network’s website.
- I will be launching my first self-paced course on Fashion Studies with Culturas de Moda starting in just a couple days, so if you’re interested (and understand some Spanish), please join the waitlist 😊
- And speaking of courses, I am planning a few additional virtual courses in English coming up soon, so stay tuned for more information!
As always, I’ll be sharing all the details in my social media, in my blog, and via email.
Thank you, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this update and my “food for thought” recommendations. Don’t hesitate to share your own in the comments or via email!
Until next time,