What We Are Reading Today: The Closet by Danielle Bobker

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Updated 22 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Closet by Danielle Bobker

Long before it was a hidden storage space or a metaphor for queer and trans shame, the closet was one of the most charged settings in English architecture. This private room provided seclusion for reading, writing, praying, dressing, and collecting — and for talking in select company. 

In their closets, kings and duchesses shared secrets with favorites, midwives and apothecaries dispensed remedies, and newly wealthy men and women expanded their social networks. 

In The Closet, Danielle Bobker presents a literary and cultural history of these sites of extrafamilial intimacy, revealing how, as they proliferated both in buildings and in books, closets also became powerful symbols of the unstable virtual intimacy of the first mass medium of print.

Focused on the connections between status-conscious — and often awkward — interpersonal dynamics and an increasingly inclusive social and media landscape, The Closet examines dozens of historical and fictional encounters taking place in the various iterations of this room: Courtly closets, bathing closets, prayer closets, privies, and the “moving closet” of the coach, among many others. 

In the process, the book conjures the intimate lives of well-known figures such as Samuel Pepys and Laurence Sterne, as well as less familiar ones such as Miss Hobart, a maid of honor at the Restoration Court, and Lady Anne Acheson, Swift’s patroness. 

Turning finally to queer theory, The Closet discovers uncanny echoes of the eighteenth-century language of the closet in 21st-century coming-out narratives.

Featuring more than thirty illustrations, The Closet offers a richly detailed and compelling account of an 18th-century setting and symbol of intimacy that continues to resonate today.


Paris Couture Week to go digital in July

Updated 30 May 2020

Paris Couture Week to go digital in July

DUBAI: For the first time ever, the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode said it would stage an online version of Paris Couture Week from July 6 to 8. 

“Each house will be represented in the form of a creative film or video,” the federation stated, adding “Additional content will be included in an editorialized section of the platform. All of this will be widely shared on the main international media networks.” 

It has not yet been confirmed which designers will take part in the new digital concept, but the week typically features design talent from the region, including Lebanese fashion houses Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Maison Rabih Kayrouz, among others.

Meanwhile, a few of the fashion houses that have been granted the official haute couture designation have opted out from showing this season.

 Jean Paul Gaultier, who handed over the reins of his couture business to Sacai’s Chitose Abe as the first in a series of rotating guest designers, announced the couture show would be postponed until January. Italian designer Giorgio Armani did the same for his Armani Privé collection, while Balenciaga, which was set to debut its first couture collection in over 50 years, has also postponed.