Today was the deadline for our major project proposals, and I can’t believe how quickly the year has flown by! We’re about to start writing our dissertations – the final piece of work we have to produce – and we’ve all spoken about how much we’d love to have extracts of our thesis published in an academic journal. This week I asked three of my coursemates to share their experience of being published in a journal for the first time:
Before being asked to write a review of a fashion exhibition for an issue of a journal that our course leader, Shaun Cole, was guest editing, I had no idea that a Master’s student could get something published in an academic journal. For some reason I thought I would have to wait until I had completed my dissertation, and so I hadn’t looked into the possibility. I had already planned a visit to Les Arts Decoratifs while I was in Paris last summer, in order to see an underwear exhibition entitled La Mécanique Des Dessous, Une Histoire Indiscréte De La Silhouette, and I was asked if I would be willing to write a review for Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion. Once I had accepted, I was put in touch with the reviews editor who emailed me the deadline, word count and a link to the publisher’s style guide, plus a sample review to give me an idea of the sort of tone and format they were looking for.
I took plenty of notes whilst in the exhibition space and then carefully prepared my review in time for the deadline. The style guide and example review proved to be extremely useful at this stage, so I have kept them safe in case I decide to submit another review to the same publisher. A couple of months later I was sent a document with minor suggested edits and a copyright release form. Two months later, I received a first proof to check for any errors during the copy editing and typesetting processes. The following month, I received my copy of the issue in the post and saw my name in print for the first time! I have recently submitted a review of another exhibition to a different journal and shall be keeping an eye out for other opportunities.
One of our first assignments of the academic year was to write either a book or exhibition review, followed by an essay that built on one of the themes of the review. I chose to review the exhibition Coco Chanel: A New Portrait by Marion Pike, Paris 1967-71, which was held in London College of Fashion’s Fashion Space Gallery and was curated by the college’s own Amy de la Haye, who has published extensively on Chanel.
When reflecting on the success of an exhibition, I struggle with balancing academic achievement with popular merit. I constantly ask myself, “who is this exhibition for?” In most cases, I know that I am not the average exhibition viewer, and what I am looking for and evaluating may likely go unnoticed by most. I believe that an exhibition should be successful in presenting an original story or outlook, and that story should be made accessible to a range of viewers.
Because de la Haye is an expert on Chanel in academic circles, and because the gallery is located within a university environment, I felt like I could interpret the exhibition almost as an academic text. As the subtitle A New Portrait suggests, the exhibition revealed a new dimension of the Chanel history, which refreshingly ran counter to the heavily mythologised history of Coco and her brand. Due to the exhibition’s interventions with existing academic stories of Chanel, I felt like my review could evaluate it on such terms.
In January, my tutor suggested I submit the review to a specific journal. It was accepted for a publication and I was thrilled to recently receive confirmation that it will be appearing in the next issue.
When my mind was set on applying for the MA History and Culture of Fashion course at LCF I had been writing about fashion for consumer magazines for over ten years – both in Russian, my native language, and in English. I had two years as a fashion editor and two stints as a contributing editor for major publications on my CV. Yet I had no academic credentials. I finished my first degree over a decade ago, and most of my professors were either dead or impossible to trace. It worried me: I imagined it would be difficult to get into a highly academic postgraduate course without these.
I realised that the best way to obtain an academic reference for someone in my position would be to write for an academic journal. So one day I sent an email to the Russian edition of Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress, Body and Culture with some information about myself. I was a little bit embarrassed about my overtly “glossy” CV so I obscurely mentioned postgraduate studies in Fashion Theory, without drawing attention to the fact that they were a prospect, rather than a fait accompli! I proposed submitting a review of an exhibition in Paris, Mannequin: Le Corps de la Mode, curated by Olivier Saillard. To my amazement, they replied, encouraging me to send through the review and giving me a deadline.
I set out on researching the topic of the model body (online, as I did not yet have access to the UAL library nor other academic resources) and soon found a video of a brilliant lecture by Central St. Martins professor, Caroline Evans, concerning modelling in the 19th and early 20th century. I emailed Professor Evans to ask her whether the lecture was available as a paper so that I could cite it in my review. Again, to my amazement, she replied straight away and sent through not only the paper but also other articles of hers relating to the topic, as well as suggestions for further reading. All of this was extremely helpful when preparing my review.
The main challenge, however, was finding the right voice. Having spent twelve years entertaining female consumers through my articles in glossy magazines, which were most probably read in beauty salons and airports, I now needed to speak seriously to academics and researchers. My usual journalistic tone was definitely out of place, and the review took a lot of rewriting before I deemed it ready for submission. It came back with praise from editors and only slight stylistic alterations for my final review; I was overjoyed.
Soon after it was published, the journal asked me to review a book on modelling by my personal academic hero, Joanne Entwistle, and Elisabeth Wissinger; Fashioning Models: Image, Text and Industry. Since then, I have reviewed a few more exhibitions and books, and last week the journal’s editor said she would welcome an article submission from me for peer review. This will be an exciting, although most certainly strenuous, new challenge.
Here’s a couple of academic journals we thought may be of interest:
- Clothing Cultures
- Costume: The Journal of the Costume Society
- Critical Studies in Men’s Fashions
- Fashion, Film and Consumption
- Fashion, Style and Popular Culture
- Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress, Body and Culture
- Vestoj: The Journal of Sartorial Matters