Slim Aarons: passive luxury

Slim Aarons: passive luxury

Slim Aarons


Slim Aarons was an American photographer noted for his images of socialites, jet-setters and celebrities. His work principally appeared in LifeTown & Country, and Holiday magazines.

In his series of photos, Aarons documents the luxurious, pleasure class of the 60s and 70s.

Palm Springs, California could have been the only backdrop to such a menagerie of people.

Aarons died in 2006 in Montrose, New York, and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

At 18 years old, Aarons enlisted in the United States Army, worked as a photographer at the United States Military Academy, and later served as a combat photographer in World War II and earned a Purple Heart. Aarons said combat had taught him the only beach worth landing on was “decorated with beautiful, seminude girls tanning in a tranquil sun.”

After the war, Aarons moved to California and began photographing celebrities. In California, he shot his most praised photo, Kings of Hollywood, a 1957 New’s Year’s Eve photograph depicting Clark GableVan HeflinGary Cooper, and James Stewart relaxing at a bar in full formal wear.

Aarons never used a stylist, or a makeup artist. He made his career out of what he called “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.”[1][3] An oft-cited example of this approach is his 1970 Poolside Gossip shot at the Kaufmann Desert House designed by Richard Neutra, with owner Nelda Linsk as one of the models in the photo. “I knew everyone,” he said in an interview with The (London) Independent in 2002. “They would invite me to one of their parties because they knew I wouldn’t hurt them. I was one of them.” Alfred Hitchcock‘s filmRear Window (1954)whose main character is a photographer played by Jimmy Stewart, is set in an apartment reputed to be based on Aarons’ apartment.

In 1997, Mark Getty, the co-founder of Getty Images, visited Aarons in his home and bought Aarons’ entire archive.

In 2017, filmmaker Fritz Mitchell released a documentary about Aarons, called Slim Aarons: The High Life. In the documentary it is revealed that Aarons was Jewish and grew up in conditions that were in complete contrast to what he told friends and family of his childhood. Aarons claimed that he was raised in New Hampshire, was an orphan, and had no living relations. After his death in 2006, his widow and daughter learned the truth that Aarons had grown up in a poor immigrant Yiddish-speaking family on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. When he was a boy, his mother was diagnosed with mental health issues and admitted to a psychiatric hospital, which caused him to be passed around among relatives. He resented and had no relationship with his father and had a brother, Harry, who would later commit suicide. Several documentary interviewees postulate that if Aarons’s true origins had been known, his career would have been unlikely to succeed within the restricted world of celebrity and WASP privilege his photography glamorized.




two methods, two results

print-on-demand: techniques

print-on-demand: techniques

the different technologies used in creating print-on-demand products

Direct-to-Garment (DTG)

Direct-to-Garment printing (DTG) was developed as an inexpensive mass-production alternative to screen-printing. This method involves printing ink directly onto a treated garment – almost like a giant laser jet printer.

While DTG has appeal in regard to cost, color capabilities, & complexity of the designs it can print, it falls short in some of our other assessment categories. The versatility of the print method is lacking as prints are only successful on cotton garments – this leaves popular garments like hoodies, sweatshirts, & activewear either out of the catalog or looking a little lackluster. DTG prints also vary widely in consistency from one machine to the next, one garment to another, & among different color materials, which means your design may look perfectly accurate on a royal blue t-shirt but awful on a burgundy sweatshirt. This inconsistency leads to higher error rates & increased waste. While we love the look & feel of a DTG print, the longevity of that look & feel isn’t as impressive as some of the other print methods on this list.

Direct-to-Film (DTF)

Direct to film, commonly known as DTF, is a process in which a graphic printed onto a piece of film with various colored inks is applied to an apparel item. This pre-printed film is binded to the garment through heat and pressure from a heat-press machine. This creates a long-lasting and detailed graphic that can be placed on an array of garments. 

DTF printing starts with the film being made on a DTF printer. This printer uses a thick PET film that ensures for better transferring characteristics. The ink used for these printers are in the typical CMYK (cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black) pigment but also has the addition of white ink. The white ink plays a significant role in the creation of the DTF film as it is the foundation that the colored pigments get placed on.


You might remember the word “sublimation” from high school science class, but in POD, it’s a print method that uses heat & pressure to turn ink into gas & transfer it from paper onto another surface.

Overall, sublimation is an incredibly versatile print method, allowing for printing of both hard surfaces & porous materials. For printing garments, however, it’s limited to white polyester fabrics. In sublimation, the entire garment is printed, which means it’s better suited to edge-to-edge patterns than something like a graphic tee. While sublimation opens the door to incredible color and detail accuracy, it also has a higher error rate as the garment must be 100% flat for color to distribute evenly. When errors occur due to folds or elevated parts of the garment like seams, it often results in white unprinted areas on the final garment.


Decorating a garment with vinyl involves printing the design on heat transfer paper & using a combination of heat & pressure to transfer it onto a garment. Unlike sublimation, the print sits on top of the garment rather than being incorporated into the fibers. 

Vinyl is an inexpensive alternative to screen printing for printing a smaller volume of garments. However, it’s quite time intensive per print as it involves manually trimming back the transfer paper, making it less than ideal for print on demand. Vinyl prints are also sensitive to heat & cannot be ironed without melting the print. While they’re able to capture more complex colors, vinyl prints are not conducive to small text or shapes with detailed edges as this requires excess vinyl to be manually pulled away from the detailed edges. Prints are also less durable & more prone to cracking as vinyl is heavy & inflexible.


Embroidery differs from the other decoration methods mentioned here, since it doesn’t really involve “printing” anything. Embroidery involves sewing a design into a garment with needle & thread – almost as old-school as it gets. In print-on-demand, it’s a little more technical. Your designs are converted into digital embroidery files that outline exactly where every stitch should be placed & what color thread should be used to do so. This file is then loaded onto an embroidery machine that places that design on a garment using as many spools of thread as are needed to create your design.

While it’s a great decoration method to use when embroidery is what’s desired, it’s quite a bit more expensive, restrictive, & time intensive than its other POD counterparts. Because your artwork needs to be digitized to be optimized for embroidery, it can take a bit longer for your products to be decorated than other decoration methods. Additionally, embroidery limits both design colors & design complexity – only a certain number of thread spool colors are available on each machine & a stitch can only be so small. This means you’ve got to be more conscious of the decoration method’s limitations when designing your clothing.

– Source(s):


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MOLAS: textile design & political identity

MOLAS: textile design & political identity

“Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them are.”

– Anne Klein

Clothing is often used to define the wearer’s social class, their politics and indeed, their very view of the world. Traditional dress helps form a nation’s identity as well as furthers its heritage.

In this instance, we explore how two indigenous cultures adapted (or didn’t) to Western influences, political change and the environment.

The Mola or Molas is a hand-made textile that forms part of the traditional women’s clothing of the indigenous Guna people from Panamá. Their clothing includes a patterned wrapped skirt (saburet), a red and yellow headscarf (musue), arm and leg beads (wini), a gold nose ring (olasu) and earrings in addition to the mola blouse (dulemor).[1] Two groups, Choco and Cuna lived side by side without intermarriage and without adopting a similar culture.[2] In Dulegaya, the Guna’s native language, “mola” means “shirt” or “clothing”. The mola originated with the tradition of Guna women painting their bodies with geometric designs, using available natural colors; at a certain point, after the arrival of the Spanish, these same designs were woven in cotton, and later still, sewn using cloth “acquired by trade from the ships that came to barter for coconuts during the 19th century”.[3][4]


A Guna woman displays a selection of molas for sale at her home in the San Blas Islands.

Molas may have their origin in body painting. In 1514, Pasqual de Andagoya, arrived in Darian and wrote.. the women are very well dressed, in embroidered cotton mantles which extend down so as to cover their feet, but the arms and bosom are uncovered.”[5] They did not wear blouses even in 1688 until they had been introduced by the missionaries.

Only after colonization by the Spanish and contact with missionaries did the Guna start to transfer their traditional geometric designs on fabric, first by painting directly on the fabric and later by using the technique of reverse appliqué. It is not agreed when this technique was first used. It seems to have been popular in the second half of the nineteenth century.[6] In 1924, Lady Brown refers to the dress of the medicine man/ Kantules as “dressed up the knees in long covered with cabalistic characters…all worked into, or let into, the cloth in a form of patchwork.”[7]

As an inspiration for their designs, the Guna first used the geometrical patterns which have been used for body painting before. In the past, they have also depicted realistic and abstract designs of flowers, sea animals and birds, and popular culture.

Depending on the tradition of each island, Guna women or men who identify as women begin the crafting of molas either after they reach puberty, or at a much younger age. Women who prefer to dress in western style are in the minority as well as in the communities in Panama City.


Molas are hand-made using a reverse appliqué technique. Several layers (usually two to seven) of different-colored cloth (usually cotton) are sewn together; the design is then formed by cutting away parts of each layer. The edges of the layers are then turned under and sewn down. Often, the stitches are nearly invisible. This is achieved by using a thread the same color as the layer being sewn, sewing blind stitches, and sewing tiny stitches. The finest molas have extremely fine stitching, made using tiny needles.

This closeup of a mola by Venancio Restrepo shows the layering of the different colors of cloth, and the fine stitching involved.

The largest pattern is typically cut from the top layer, and progressively smaller patterns from each subsequent layer, thus revealing the colors beneath in successive layers. This basic scheme can be varied by cutting through multiple layers at once, hence varying the sequence of colours; some molas also incorporate patches of contrasting colours, included in the design at certain points to introduce additional variations of color.[8]

Molas vary greatly in quality, and the pricing to buyers varies accordingly. A greater number of layers is generally a sign of higher quality; two-layer molas are common, but examples with four or more layers will demand a better price. The quality of stitching is also a factor, with the stitching on the best molas being close to invisible. Although some molas rely on embroidery to enhance the design, a good looking mola is always constructed using the reverse-appliqué method as the leading technique.[1] A mola can take from two weeks to six months to make, depending on the complexity

cultural, social and political influences

In 1919, the panamanian government began a policy of forced assimilation banning mola’s dress and nose piercing in women. The government introduced these laws to Westernize Guna society and assert control.[13]

There was a strong link between traditional dress and Guna culture and identity. Molas have such an importance for the Guna people and their traditional identity that they can be considered responsible for the independent status of the Comarca Kuna Yala.[14]

After the attempt of the Panamanian government to “westernize” the Guna, the Guna greatly objected to the control on their cultural dress, and ethnic identity, and showed great strength in their reaction to the bans implemented by the government, leading to the Guna Revolution.[13]

In 1925 for three years following the revolution, women were required to once again adopt traditional dress as a form of rebellion against the government. Women on Nargana and other more progressive islands were forced to wear mola, even if they had never worn this traditional dress, and their noses had to be pierced by force.[13]

The Grammar of Ornament

The Grammar of Ornament

From the universal testimony of travelers it would appear, that there is scarcely a people, in however early stage of civilisation, with whom the desire to ornament is not a strong instinct. Man’s earliest ambition is to create . . . to stamp on this earth the impress of an individual mind.

Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament

While we may often note that current society is changing at a breakneck speed, we do have to take note that this has happened before. Arguably, the 19th Century beats us at our own game on the fundamental-change level.

The 19th century was an era of rapidly accelerating scientific discovery and invention, with significant developments in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, electricity, and metallurgy that laid the groundwork for the technological advances of the 20th century. The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and spread to continental Europe, North America, and Japan. The Victorian era was notorious for the employment of young children in factories and mines, as well as strict social norms regarding modesty and gender roles.

The 19th century was characterized by vast social upheaval. Slavery was abolished in much of Europe and the Americas. The First Industrial Revolution, though it began in the late 18th century, expanding beyond its British homeland for the first time during this century, particularly remaking the economies and societies of the Low Countries, the RhinelandNorthern Italy, and the Northeastern United States. A few decades later, the Second Industrial Revolution led to ever more massive urbanization and much higher levels of productivity, profit, and prosperity, a pattern that continued into the 20th century.

The first electronics appeared in the 19th century, with the introduction of the electric relay in 1835, the telegraph and its Morse code protocol in 1837, the first telephone call in 1876,[2] and the first functional light bulb in 1878.[3] Society rapidly urbanized, bringing populations increasingly together into smaller spaces. The first notes of globalization brought influences from around the world to the same table, with varying results. From a Western perspective, the new cultures were ripe to be harvested. The Eastern-perspective, it presented new threats and cultural influence without precedent. The world, in fact, was becoming smaller.

The increasingly urbanization of Europe and the United States brought about new challenges to traditional aesthetics and behaviors. How does one distinguish oneself from a sea of common faces? What importance does a dwelling have and how does it become a home? An ever-evolving social hierarchy demanded that new styles, techniques and designs be invented — and quickly.

the Emergence of Decorative Arts

Definitions from Oxford Languages · Learn more

dec·o·ra·tive arts

/ˌdek(ə)rədiv ˈärts,ˌdekəˌrādiv ˈärts/


plural noun: decorative arts; noun: decorative art

  1. the arts concerned with the production of high-quality objects that are both useful and beautiful.

Ceramics, glassware, basketry, jewelry, metalware, furniture, textiles, clothing, and other such goods are the objects most commonly associated with the decorative arts. Many decorative arts, such as basketry or pottery, are also commonly considered to be craft, but the definitions of both terms are arbitrary.

The term “decorative arts” is not meant to be derogative. It was popular in the 70s to dismiss this as a “lesser” art and thankfully, we’ve decided collectively to rather group all functional art under the term “design.” The artists we discuss in our Fine Arts Collection are very much masters of fine art as well as exquisite craftspeople. I argue that decorative arts are actually more democratic and open to including fine art in our everyday life.

And then there’s “retro.” We constantly revisit previous eras to gain inspiration for our own, modern times. Likewise, The Victorian era is known for its interpretation and eclectic revival of historic styles mixed with the introduction of Asian and Middle Eastern influences in furniture, fittings, and interior decoration. The Arts and Crafts movement, the aesthetic movementAnglo-Japanese style, and Art Nouveau style have their beginnings in the late Victorian era and gothic period.

I’m specifically interested in a handful of artists who made a thoughtful, meaningful jump to bring arts to bear weight on everyday existence. We’ve talked about Racinet. And Morris. There are several dozen others including, Tiffany, Lalique, Tamara de Lempicka, Erté (a great article re: “the top 10” is here, click on it!) are among the most notable.

Owen Jones

(adapted from: Cracking the Universal Code of Beauty: Owen Jones’s Grammar of Ornament by Femke Speelberg, Curator of Historic Ornament, Design, and Architecture Department of Drawings and Prints; and Robyn Fleming, Museum Librarian, Interlibrary Services and Digital Initiatives, Thomas J. Watson Library, The Met.)

In the opening chapter to his seminal work The Grammar of Ornament, Owen Jones stresses the fact that one of the universal qualities among humankind is the desire to make beautiful things. To illustrate this point, he uses the somewhat macabre example of a severed preserved head of a Maori warrior (mokomokai), then thought to be a woman, which was covered in an elegant pattern of facial tattoos. He admired it particularly for the harmonious way in which the responsible artist had married the tattooed lines with the natural shapes of the human face. Rather than concluding that ornament belongs purely to the primitive, as others would argue later, Jones realized through his confrontation with this ethnological specimen that the Maori possessed an innate understanding of beauty that was alien to modern Western society.

While Jones’s ideas slowly took root in art education over the following decades, which in turn influenced the development of new artistic movements such as Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau, The Grammar of Ornament did not bring about a direct change in artistic practice. In fact, as Jones himself anticipated, we often find patterns and motifs from the book copied and applied to objects and interiors dating from the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

The Grammar was celebrated first and foremost for its outstanding folio-sized color lithographs, which represented the latest and most sophisticated innovations in the field of printmaking. Color lithography had been in use for several decades, but because each color was printed from a separate lithographic stone, most commercial publications were printed in a limited palette of three or four colors. Since color played a crucial role in Jones’s work, he took charge of the production himself and employed assistants to work out the patterns on lithographic stones, with certain plates requiring as many as twenty distinct stones. The high quality of Jones’s color plates quickly turned the luxurious first edition of the book into a collector’s item. Their appeal greatly outlasted Jones’s intellectual arguments, which were omitted altogether in the various posthumous editions, and facsimile reproductions published in the later nineteenth and twentieth century.

As a writer, I have to include at least one reference to literature when discussing art, fine or otherwise.

While he is now seen as the epitome of wit and sophistication, Oscar Wilde was prosecuted and was killed under the same Victorian culture that produced the mentioned artwork.

It is important to note that his trial (3 April 1895) indeed changed the very vocabulary he wrote in: English. Before his trial, there were homosexual acts, however one could not be homosexual. It was not a noun. It was unthinkable to call someone a “homosexual.” Certainly a “sodomite” but that’s a different word altogether. Your identity was not in question, your acts were. That changed from an adjective to a noun due to his trial.

In 2017, Wilde was among an estimated 50,000 men who were pardoned for homosexual acts that were no longer considered offences under the Policing and Crime Act 2017 (homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967). The 2017 Act implements what is known informally as the Alan Turing law.[237]

Oscar Wilde’s Particular Aesthetic

Chief among the literary practitioners of decorative aestheticism was Oscar Wilde, who advocated Victorian decorative individualism in speech, fiction, and essay-form.[2] Wilde’s notion of cultural enlightenment through visual cues echoes that of Alexander von Humboldt[3] who maintained that imagination was not the Romantic figment of scarcity and mystery but rather something anyone could begin to develop with other methods, including organic elements in pteridomania.[4]

By changing one’s immediate dwelling quarters, one changed one’s mind as well;[5] Wilde believed that the way forward in cosmopolitanism began with as a means eclipse the societally mundane, and that such guidance would be found not in books or classrooms, but through a lived Platonic epistemology.[6] An aesthetic shift in the home’s Victorian decorative arts reached its highest outcome in the literal transformation of the individual into cosmopolitan, as Wilde was regarded and noted among others in his tour of America.[7]

For Wilde, however, the inner meaning of Victorian decorative arts is fourfold: one must first reconstruct one’s inside so as to grasp what is outside in terms of both living quarters and mind, whilst hearkening back to von Humboldt on the way to Plato so as to be immersed in contemporaneous cosmopolitanism, thereby in the ideal state becoming oneself admirably aesthetical.

the ART of INDIA

the ART of INDIA

an overview of the ART of INDIA >

Indian art consists of a variety of art forms, including paintingsculpturepottery, and textile arts such as woven silk. Geographically, it spans the entire Indian subcontinent, including what is now IndiaPakistanBangladeshSri LankaNepal, and at times eastern Afghanistan. A strong sense of design is characteristic of Indian art and can be observed in its modern and traditional forms.

The origin of Indian art can be traced to prehistoric settlements in the 3rd millennium BCE. On its way to modern times, Indian art has had cultural influences, as well as religious influences such as HinduismBuddhismJainismSikhism and Islam. In spite of this complex mixture of religious traditions, generally, the prevailing artistic style at any time and place has been shared by the major religious groups.

In historic art, sculpture in stone and metal, mainly religious, has survived the Indian climate better than other media and provides most of the best remains. Many of the most important ancient finds that are not in carved stone come from the surrounding, drier regions rather than India itself. Indian funeral and philosophic traditions exclude grave goods, which is the main source of ancient art in other cultures.

Indian artist styles historically followed Indian religions out of the subcontinent, having an especially large influence in TibetSouth East Asia and China. Indian art has itself received influences at times, especially from Central Asia and Iran, and Europe.