Fashion Culture Network

(Edmonton) Fashionistas, stylists, history buffs, shoppers—in fact, anybody who happens to get dressed in the morning—will want to join the University of Alberta’s Fashion Culture Network.

The new group, based out of the Department of Human Ecology weaves together U of A staff, students and anyone in the community who wants a fresh take on clothing, the idea of style, and the value and history of textiles.

“Fashion is treated very lightly by TV, magazines and other publications,” said Anne Bissonnette, head of the Fashion Culture Network and an assistant professor of human ecology at the U of A. 

“That doesn’t challenge society much, and the Fashion Culture Network presents a way to look at ourselves, at our culture, our history and ask some questions about who we are.”

The network, which will host events to bring people together for fun, thought-provoking lectures and conversation, kicks off with its first event Feb. 7, ‘Off With Their Wigs’. Delivered by Bissonnette in a visually rich Power Point presentation, the event will give everyone a peek into the hair fashions that were high art from 1748 to 1804, during the powdered glory days of Marie Antoinette.

“For us it seems normal to wear our hair in our own colour, in a natural state. But back then, it was about art and the influence of class structure,” said Bissonnette, who believes ‘Off With Their Wigs’ will hit a chord of cool with contemporary audiences.

“Hair is really at the forefront of fashion now and changes style even before garments do.”

Bissonnette eventually expects the Fashion Culture Network to branch into other topics that touch on a wide range of popular culture, such as movies. “Right now we are starting with fashion and history, but the network can expand as demand occurs.”

Each event hosted by the Fashion Culture Network will raise awareness and support for the U of A’s Clothing and Textiles Collection, which is fund-raising for special projects. At the end of the evening, Bissonnette will talk about a particular need.

“We want funds to improve how we conserve, research and display our artifacts, support travelling exhibits and buy some special mannequins,” Bissonnette said. There are also artifacts that Human Ecology would like to add to its classroom teaching collection; the Feb. 7 talk will end with an invitation to donate towards the acquisition of a pair of 18th century pockets, needed for a course on early modern textiles history.

The ‘Off With Their Wigs’ event is free to everyone and runs 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in Room 150 of the Telus Centre on the U of A campus. To join the Fashion Culture Network, e-mail colleen.borden@ualberta.ca