Francesca Granata, Professor of Fashion Studies, Explores Fashion Criticism with New Anthology
For decades, newspapers generally relegated fashion coverage to feminine pages, alongside the other Quatre F’s that included food, family, and furnishings, all topics considered the epitome of soft news. According to Francesca Granata, professor of Fashion Studies in the School of History and Theory of Art and Design At Parsons, the coverage of fashion began to change in the 1960s, although the field of fashion criticism has not yet been embraced as fully as other subjects of cultural criticism.
Granata is eager to change the way people perceive fashion criticism, and with her new project, Fashion review: an anthology, she makes a compelling and compelling argument that the field rightly belongs to a central position in the larger field of cultural criticism.
Fashion criticism has not only historically helped define fashion ideals, but it has also involved gender, race and a host of other categories of identity in the process, Granata explains. He played a pivotal role in negotiating changing gender roles, but also in changing interpretations of race. It has both chronicled and, especially over the past two decades, helped open up standards of beauty and fashion.
The Granatas anthology is the first of its kind and includes reviews from the late 19th century, starting with Oscar Wilde, as well as cultural critics and writers who have explored fashion in their work such as Susan Sontag, Eve Babitz and Hilton Als. The anthology also includes fashion journalists such as Vanessa Friedman and Robin Givhan, as well as Rhonda Garelick, dean of ADHT, and new school president Dwight A. McBride, whose chapter examines race politics as that articulated by Abercrombie and Fitch.
Fashion criticism has long interested Granata, who started the newspaper Fashion projects in 2005 to emphasize the importance of fashion in current critical discourse. A 2013 issue of the journal devoted to fashion criticism generated so much interest that it began to build the anthology, which she hopes will give readers the opportunity to understand just how Fashion is an integral part of culture and how rich and varied the field of fashion criticism can be. .
The anthology reveals how fashion media discourse not only publicized the fashion ideals of these periods, but to the extent that it was constantly linked to discourses outside its realms, it produced truths about the genre. , race, and a host of other identity categories, Granata shares. . The book argues that fashion criticism has played a central role in negotiating shifting gender roles as well as shifting interpretations of race.
The MA Fashion Studies program is based on a critical understanding of fashion as a cultural phenomenon, which enabled Granatas to work in the classroom to play a central role in the development of the anthology. One of her graduate seminars on fashion criticism was a critical forum for discussion of many of the issues raised in her book, and she was also able to invite leading critics into the class, including Guy Trebay, Lynn Yaeger and Chioma Nnadi.
As the coronavirus pandemic drastically changed the teaching of design, Granata and her students were lucky as her seminar classes shifted quickly and efficiently to online platforms. She was even able to bring virtual speakers who are not based in New York to the classroom and access online exhibits around the world. Granata is also working on a new book project and exhibition that would explore contemporary fashion design that engages or questions the limits and integrity of the body and suggests different experiences of incarnation.
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