22 January 2010

The Mask and the Truth

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." - Oscar Wilde

21 January 2010

Decent Cover and Architecture

"The body is not to be exposed. It is not a question of wearing clothing which represents the structure it covers, but of wearing minimal clothing, a decent cover. The surfaces which clothe architecture must remain a discrete mask." (The Architecture of Fashion p.234-235)

20 January 2010

Architecture and Pattern

"architecture that 'encourages ornamental surface over articulated form, pattern over texture, and sometimes pattern over all..." (The Architecture of Fashion p. 349)

19 January 2010

Fashion and Discipline

"the disciplining of fashion is, in the end, an attempt to discipline sexuality." (The Architecture of Fashion p.198)

18 January 2010

Decoration as Elementary

"It is the urge to decorate that is one of the most elementary of human drives, more elementary in fact than the need to protect the body." (The Architecture of Fashion p. 178)

17 January 2010

Superficial Attraction

"The threat of fashion, which is to say the feminine threat of 'superficial attraction' is permanent, as must be the masculine resistance to it." (The Architecture of Fashion, p.197)

16 January 2010

Simplicity of Male Attire

"Male attire is supposedly detached from the many dangers of sensuality that are carried by the ornament that defines women's fashion." (The Architecture of Fashion p.208)

15 January 2010

Decoration as a Romantic Orgy

"the tendency to degrade the wall with new decorative elements that flirts with the past and produces playboy fashions in a romantic orgy" (The Architecture of Fashion, p.198)

14 January 2010

Ornamentation and Art

"art does not simply begin with the plane surface but with everything that might go on upon that surface, including and especially ornamentation." (The Architecture of Fashion p.236)

13 January 2010

Conference: Veiled Constellations

The veil, critical theory, politics, and contemporary society.

A conference designed to problematize the prevailing discourses surrounding the veil while exploring its subversive potential.

Sponsored by the University of Toronto on June 3-5, 2010

"This conference offers a forum to problematize the prevailing discourses surrounding the veil while exploring the veil's subversive potential. The extent to which the veil can erode, or even invert power and oppression is, with the exception of various Islam-inspired positions, an overlooked and under-explored area of academic theorizing. We ask what new insights may be unearthed in moving beyond the impetus to repudiate, fear, or adore the veil. This conference is a unique opportunity to discuss those contested voices situated within the interstices of the liberal, conservative and Islamic constellations, and, in the process, to re-evaluate the veil in an entirely new light by intersecting multiple disciplinary perspectives...This event will highlight highly innovative and thought-provoking approaches to not only the Islamic veil, but the veil as such...Essentially, we seek a different kind of conversation and a different set of lexical and philosophical devices to navigate the many paradoxes that the veil represents"


12 January 2010

Erotic Facade

"Fashionable ornament...the 'erotic facade' which must be stripped off buildings and abandoned to produce the 'impersonal, precise and objective spirit' of modern architecture." (The Architecture of Fashion, p.197-198)

11 January 2010

"Ornaments are understood as sexual lures." (The Architecture of Fashion p.197)

10 January 2010

Masculine Structure vs. Feminine Ornamentation

"Ornament is identified as a feminine principle which needs to be disciplined, literally domesticated, restrained if not actually contained within the interior by a masculine structure." (The Architecture of Fashion, p.195)

09 January 2010

Banu-ye Ordibehesht

Through the mashrabiyya, it is the woman who controls the gaze so that, far from rendering her passive or invisible, the mashrabiyya in face enables her not only to manage her lover's gaze but also to communicate her feelings. Being veiled does not equate with being silenced, as Hamid Naficy notes in his discussion of the film Banu-ye Ordibehesht, where the voices of two lovers circumvent the stringent rules of Iranian film secors on what can be visually portrayed on screen.

-Veil: Veiling, Representation and Contemporary Art, p.23

08 January 2010

Women and Intrigue

"I believe a woman should be full of excitement and intrigue like a film. In other words, she should conceal her nature and make men rely on their imagination in order to dicover her."

-Alfred Hitchcock

07 January 2010

Poem- Resistance

Women from all cultures feel the pressure to be a "modest" bride on their wedding day. Here is a poem written by Kathryn Church about a bride in the West choosing what to wear on her wedding day and the ultimate representation of her dress:


Imagine a bride
who has seen some
Hard Times:
too many cigarettes
too much booze
too many men who don't give
a damn.

The one she is with now isn't much good.
"Why should I marry you?"
she asks.
"Because no one else will have you,"
he replies.
She's so far down that
she believes him.

The wedding dress that she creates is
with imagination.

White is for virgins and I am not"
she declares.
And so the garmet is ivory
its lines playful to the point of

It is a clever move using the
Strength and Comfort
of her sexuality to counter the
of her depression and self-loathing.

This dress is not a dress.
It is a mask.

-Kathryn Church

06 January 2010

Niqab and Tradition

Here is an interesting traditional niqab from Hormozgan, Iran. You can find more pictures here:

Photos: Village women making niqab in Hormozgan, Iran

In many traditional styles, the niqab is usually more ornate and colorful as opposed to the simple black that is more common in our modern society.

Are these traditonal niqab styles a result of ancient tradition and maintained out of necessity (due to sand blowing and the intensity of the sun)? The bright colors and ornate designs lack the degree of modesty that the niqabs in modern society tend to embrace.

What distiguished between tradition, necessity, and modesty in the design of Niqabs?

05 January 2010

Clothing and Society

"clothing articulates social relations"

(The Fashion of Architecture, p. 184)

To relate this quote to clothing to Islam, as many of us already know, the veil and the hijab was used to protect the members of high society when they ventured outside of their family quarters. The wearing of a scarf or head covering signified members of high society.

I won't say that this is true for all cultures in the Islamic world but as the East is becoming more exposed to the West and western fashion and influence is becoming more prominent in eastern society, the scarf is sometimes considered a signifier for members of a lower class.

This thought, I believe, is due to the relationship the hijab has to tradition. Often times, especially in the West, people consider adherence to tradition and a lack of adaption is common among lower class societies who either, are not exposed to the advancement of the rest of the world or who do not have the fiscal ability to keep up with the changing times.

What do you think? Is adherence to tradition (with respect to clothing and the hijab) a symbol of lower class societies?

04 January 2010

Opinion on the Veil

"Why have young girls started to cover themselves in this new type of veil and dress like old women? I think that is just a trent, a fashion like any other.... Fifty years ago, girls were most interested in the fabrics, colours and designs which would attract a possible husband's interest... we only thout about clothes in this sense. It wasn't that hijab and modesty were unimportant, it was just that girls were not so serious about it... I do not think this new veiling is a religious duty. A woman's modest conduct is more important than what she wears... Although I have this opinion about the new veil being a trend which is not an essential part of Islam, I am not against what it stands for if it means that society is becoming more concerned with morality and turning against some of the modern ways and Western values which started to take hold...It is important for the Arab people to rediscover their own traditions and take pride in themselves... We have become used to seeing Western women almost naked in our streets and if, because of this, our women want to cover themselves in the new veil, then it is a welcome protest against indecency and our overwhelming past interest in all things foreign. The women who adopt the new veil do so for a number of reasons, but it should not be a matter of law, but one of personal choice."

-Fatima, a vegetable seller in Cairo, in her late seventies.

Extracts from Helen Watson, 'Women and the Veil: Personal Responses to Global Process', in Akbar S. Ahmed and Hastings Donnan (eds), Islam, Globalization and Postmodernity, London and New York; Routledge, 1994.

03 January 2010

Decision to Veil in France

"I did not think to wear the veil as a younger woman at home in Algiers, it was not important then. At the time my mother, aunts and sisters wore a western style of clothes and did not cover their hair or face...When my husband and I came to France,...I had to find employment...and there was no question that I would not wear a veil....It is important to me to keep my appearance private and not be stared at by strange men and foreigners...[Veiling] allows me more freedom and shows that I am a woman concerned about her modesty. The experience of being in a foreign place is unpleasant and difficult, and wearing the veil eases some of the problems... Sometimes wearing the veil means that you attract the attention of the French people who hate Islam, but experiences like this make me more proud of being an Arab and a Muslim...you also feel safe when wearing the veil in any kind of situation-it is a protection as well as a sign of love of Islam."

-Maryam, a middle-aged textile factory worker living in France.

Extracts from Helen Watson, 'Women and the Veil: Personal Responses to Global Process', in Akbar S. Ahmed and Hastings Donnan (eds), Islam, Globalization and Postmodernity, London and New York; Routledge, 1994.

02 January 2010

Three dimensions of the word "hijab"

"The concept of the word hijab is three-dimensional, and the three dimensions often blend into one another. The first dimention is a visual one: to hide something from sight. The root of the verb hajaba means 'to hide'. The second dimension is spatial" to separate, to mark a border, to establish a threshold. And finally, the third dimension is ethical: it belongs to the realm of the forbidden. So we have not just tangible categories that exist in the reality of the senses-the visual, the spatial-but also an abstract reality in the realm of ideas. A space hidden by a hijab is a forbidden space."

-Fatima Mernissi, Women and Islam: An Historical and Theological Enquiry, trans. Mary Jo Lakeland, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991

01 January 2010

Western Perspective on the Veil

"And how pretty they look, these women draped like phantoms in their black silks. Their long veils do not completely hide them...They are simply placed over their hair and leave uncovered the delicat features, the gold necklet and the half-bared arms that carry on their wrists thick twisted bravelets of virgin gold. Pure Egyptians as they are, they have preserved the same delicate profile, the same elongated eyes, as mark the old goddesses carved in bas-relief on the Pharaonic walls. But some, alas, amongst the young ones have discarded their traditional costume, and are arryed a la franque, in gowns and hats. And such gowns, such hats, such flowers! The very peasants of our meanest villages would disdain them. Oh! Why cannot someone tell these poor little women, who have it in their power to be so adorable, that the beautiful folds of their black veils give to them an exquisite and characteristic distinction, while this poor tinsel, which recalls the mid-Lent carnivals, makes of them objects that excite our pity."

-Pierre Lot, Egypt, p.111