Newspaper Commentary (Web and Print), 2001-09


BU Today


On the historical appearance of stiletto heels: "The modern connection between fashion and pain traces to the 1950s, when designer Christian Dior unveiled his "New Look," pointy shoes with a steep, thin heel. By contrast, World War II era shoes," says Kathleen McDermott, a fashion historian and instructor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, "were blunt in the toe, sensible, and not intended to be sexy. Dior wanted women to be like flowers, dainty and feminine,"' she says. 'It was the exact opposite of the utilitarian design that came before it. And a stiletto heel was a big part of that change.' " Stylish Shoes Have a Serious Price Tag: BU Study Shows It's Heels Today, Pain Tomorrow, BU Today, November 16, 2009.


The Boston Globe


On the rush of fashion designers to dress Olympic athletes: "The Olympics are one of the last places where designers haven't aggressively worked to get their name out there,' says Rhode Island School of Design fashion historian and author Kathleen McDermott. "So of course fashion is storming in. Here are all these fabulous athletes we can idolize, while admiring the designs." High End Designers Competing For Gold, Boston Globe, July 25, 2012.


On the difference between Yves St. Laurent and Tom Ford: "Kathleen McDermott, fashion history professor at MassArt, insinuates that Ford is out to give investors confidence more than the people who wear his clothes, and she says the difference between the namesake and the man who carries the brand into this new century is remarkable. Saint Laurent was a classic designer with artistic vision; Ford is a stylist." "'One is painstakingly creating a garment from the ground up,' McDermott says, 'and the other has a very clever sense of what will sell.' "  "Vision Can't Be Refashioned," Boston Globe, January 10, 2002, D3.


On wearing white before Memorial Day: "It really goes back to what is proper dress set by the upper class, and followed slavishly by the middle class," said Kathleen McDermott, fashion historian at the Massachusetts College of Art.  "Shades of a Different Color Define a New Dress Code," Boston Globe, May 2, 2002, D3.


Women’s Wear Daily, NYC


On the connection between consumer spending and housing prices: "We've been in this long boom where people who own homes are getting breaks from refinancing that, over time, may give them more income to spend on clothes." "The Consumers behind the Money," WWD, November 7, 2002, 12.


Kansas City Star


With men out of jobs [in the 1930s], women emerged as a strong force to keep families together.  They worked as they could, often taking in laundry and sewing to feed their families.  "No woman could afford to be weak."  "A Good Front,"  Kansas City Star, October 14, 2001, G3.


The print explosion is a symptom of today's eclectic postmodern culture with little significance beyond surface decoration.  "It's as if designers are rummaging through the closets of fashion history. They're picking what they like and mixing it up. It's an endless recycling and rejuvenation."  "Your Prints Have Come," Kansas City Star, March 11, 2001, G3.


Uneven hemlines first surfaced in the 1920s, a period of transition when skirts were on the move from long to short and back to long.  "It was a way to accustom the eye to a new length.  And women were able to have a little bit of both worlds."  "Do You Have a Handkerchief?" Kansas City Star, July 16, 2000.


The 1920s and 1960s were periods when women rebelled against traditional clothing and cast off provincial thinking.  Women of the 1960s were "picking up the threads their grandmothers had agitated for" in the late 1910s and 1920s.  These "were two periods of enormous freedom, and we are still living with those implications."  "From Corsets to Casual: The 20th Century," Kansas City Star, November 14, 1999.


Beading was popular in the 1920s when fashion took a turn toward straight-lined flapper silhouettes.   "When shapes simplify, clothes [surfaces] become more ornate."  Beading provides "a place for the eye to go."  "Getting a Bead," Kansas City Star, October 10, 1999.


The decade of the 1960s "was the first time in our century when fashion bubbled up from the streets."  "Peasant Thoughts," Kansas City Star, May 16, 1999.


The Oregonian


On uses of the American flag in fashion history: "In the 1960s, people started appropriating flag images on T-shirts, incorporating it into clothing . . . using the flag as overt political theater."   "Patriotic Fervor Hits Fashion,"  The Oregonian, September 30, 2001, L7