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Elements of Style: Fashion and Form at the Beinecke
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 to Saturday, March 27, 2010

Elements of Style: Fashion and Form at the Beinecke

Josephine Baker
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 to Saturday, March 27, 2010

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

This exploration of fashion and literary culture pays playful homage to Strunk and White's now classic grammar primer, The Elements of Style, first published in its current guise fifty years ago. The "little book," as it has come to be called, has offered prosaic advice on all things prose to generations of college students. Yet its emphasis on "style," on the ease, clarity, and distinctive flair of good writing, reveals, at the same time, how the component parts of composition similarly mirror the characteristic stamp of a signature look, be it Fitzgerald's fictional Gatsby or the Jazz Age icon Josephine Baker. The exhibition considers, then, the idea of style as it relates to sartorial expression and prose/poetic form—the role of clothing and design in literature and everyday life, and the artful way in which words appear upon the page. We discover that clothing, and the meaning of dress, remains a compelling literary subject, just as fashion itself is highly dependent on written language, on the power of description and, in turn, of persuasion. With a focus on the concept of the modern, "Elements of Style" highlights literary artifacts such as Gertrude Stein's embroidered waistcoats and Muriel Draper's hats, while it also draws attention to the evocative relationship between text and texture, fabric and paper, as well as the book artist's continued fascination with sewing and the decorative arts. [ca. 200 items]

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