Issue 35: The Fashion Issue

Lucianne Walkowicz

Meet the astrophysicist spinning deep space data into a tangible sense of wonder

Once inside Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, summer museumgoers stroll down a backlit hallway that shifts between dreamy blues and purples while projected stars spiral across the carpeted floor. These splashes of light represent the gigantic first-generation stars that lived brightly, albeit briefly, before exploding into supernovas that spewed out the minerals and metals we use today—the calcium in our bodies, the gold on our wristwatches. Astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz, our cosmic guide for the day, is excitedly explaining this as a star swirls beneath her feet. After a moment, the projection explodes across the floor in a brilliant, colorful burst.

This is just one of the interactive digital elements woven throughout the planetarium in an effort to make the dark expanses of cosmology more tangible. Luckily for the inquisitive sort, Walkowicz is keen to share her passion for these celestial bodies. She studies how stars affect a planet’s habitability—whether the high-energy radiation beaming off a given star might allow its particular spinning planets to sustain life. Besides being a resident astronomer at Adler, Walkowicz, 36, is a former NASA Kepler Fellow for the study of planet-bearing stars at UC Berkeley and a current leader in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) mission, which will photograph the visible sky every few nights from a Chilean mountaintop, capturing, as LSST describes it, “the greatest movie ever made... the first motion picture of our universe.”

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Reconsidering the Ankle Monitor

Can the punitive technology be reimagined as a force for good?

In the 1960s, Robert Kirkland Schwitzgebel and his twin brother Ralph were psychology students at Harvard, interested in helping troubled, at-risk youth—“juvenile delinquents,” in the jargon of the era. Students of behaviorist and social philosopher B.F. Skinner, the brothers envisioned using modern tools to expand upon Skinner’s positive-reinforcement theories. To that end, Ralph and his colleague William Hurd dreamed up Patent No. 3,478,344: Behavioral Supervision System With Wrist Carried Transceiver. They even made prototypes with surplus missile-tracking equipment.

At the time, the idea of using wearable technology to curb antisocial behavior seemed like something out of science fiction. Half a century later, electronic monitoring is an established criminal justice tool in more than 30 countries. In the United States alone, an estimated 200,000 people—“offenders” is the accepted parlance, encompassing parolees, individuals under house arrest, and other scenarios—are wearing some form of ankle monitor right now. But this is hardly the world envisioned by the brothers, who later shortened their name to Gable.

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Pedro Miguel Schiaffino

The culinary force on respectfully tapping our natural world

Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino is animated as he talks about the unconditional link between the quality of his ingredients, many from the Amazon, and the sustainable way they are produced. “We have to change the agricultural model. The Amazon fits into that perfectly because it is not intensive farming,” he says as staff rush around him, readying lunch at Malabar, his flagship restaurant in Lima, Peru. “It is an enormous space, the size of Australia, and the agriculture there can be small-scale and with incredible diversity. The Amazon’s natural pantry is the future.”

One of the handful of chefs who have spearheaded his country’s culinary boom of the last decade, Schiaffino has established a reputation for forging haute cuisine out of rainforest staples, often in staggeringly creative ways. He personally scours Peru’s most remote corners for new ideas and frequently visits the Amazon, where he has established long-term relationships with his suppliers. They range from artisanal fishermen to indigenous communities that grow everything from cassava to ají negro, a black chili pepper found only in the jungle.

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Tania el Khoury

Meet the Lebanese live artist testing the limits of public space

Lebanese artist Tania El Khoury heads toward the small fishing port of Ain el Mreisseh in Beirut, a sleepy oasis behind the seafront’s bustling promenade. She warmly greets Adnan Al Oud, an older man who grew up on Beirut’s coastline and has been fishing here most of his life, and hands him a gift: a t-shirt bearing calligraphy that reads “This Sea is Mine.” It’s the name of a still-talked-about performance piece they did together three years ago questioning the increasing privatization of Beirut’s coastline.

The 32-year-old El Khoury, who splits her time between Beirut and London, is probably one of the only “live artists” in Lebanon. It’s a medium that, despite the country’s burgeoning contemporary art scene, has yet to take root. She focuses on site-specific works that straddle the line between art and performance, both in her solo creative endeavors and with Dictaphone Group, a collective she co-founded with architect and urbanist Abir Saksouk-Sasso. Together they work on projects which explore our relationships to the city and public space, with performances staged everywhere from a cable car to long-abandoned railway stations. “The notion of public space in Europe is very controlled,” El Khoury says. “In Lebanon, it has always been more of a natural relationship, but [changing] policies, this neoliberal economy, and all the illegalities that happened during the civil war have affected it.”

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The GOOD Dinnertime Conversation

On the future of fashion

More of us than ever are concerned about how we consume clothing. Can we shop for sustainability? Is there such a thing as a guilt-free garment? In recent years, these questions have been asked more and more in the mainstream. But how do people inside and around the industry think about the way we consume clothing? For the second installment of the GOOD Dinnertime Conversation, guest editor Emily Spivack brought together a group of thinkers, makers, designers, and curators to talk about the future of fashion.

Along with Spivack, guests included Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, which explores the rise of fast fashion and disposable consumerism in the global fashion industry; Gretchen Jones, a designer and former Project Runway winner with a track record of working with local craftspeople and employing ethical business practices; Jeremy Lewis, a fashion writer, editor, and the founder of Garmento, a fashion fanzine that celebrates fashion past and present as one and the same; Michael Phillips Moskowitz, the global chief curator and editorial director of eBay; Mary Ping, designer and proprietor of the fashion line Slow and Steady Wins the Race; Sarah Scaturro, the head conservator of The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art, in charge of preserving the collection’s costume artifacts; and Karuna Scheinfeld, the vice president of design at Woolrich John Rich & Bros.

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Meet the Trans Icons Making a Huge Impact on the World

Zackary Drucker and Hari Nef on getting beyond the gender binary

As a society, we’re waking up to the idea that gender identity doesn’t fit into two neat, blue and pink boxes, but rather exists on a spectrum that might not always mirror the biological body. Perhaps nowhere is the notion of gender fluidity being more tangibly explored than in the fashion industry, where designers are increasingly creating collections that blur the boundaries between boys and girls. There’s a growing curiosity, but this space is fraught, and though it’s in the zeitgeist today, trans is most certainly not just a trend. We’re parsing out the complexities of identity and diving headfirst into a new frontier.

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