Synopses & Reviews
What do you wear that makes you feel powerful? How about the woman next to you at the bank? In line with you at the store? Think about your mother. What would she put on to reveal her power source to the world? These are the questions that inspired Tiffany Ludwig and Renee Piechocki to embark on an interview journey across the United States. Over a period of six years, they talked with more than 500 women and girls, ages four through ninety-two, who ranged from office workers to drag-kings, stay-at-home moms to attorneys, fashion industry executives to elected officials, students to cowgirls.
It is these women's sensitive, funny, and always revealing thoughts that are at the heart of Trappings a book that although begins with a question about clothing is not about fashion at all. Here, clothing is simply a vehicle to access a larger dialogue about a diverse range of issues women face related to power and identity, including what expectations and limitations are placed upon them by their affiliation with a specific gender, culture, race, class, or profession. A complex spectrum of responses include discussions about the importance of clothing's comfort and practicality, how clothing can facilitate women's movement through class and social strata, how sex is used strategically in business and social settings, and how clothing can be used to empower women by connecting them with cultural or personal history.
Complimented by 148 color and black-and-white photographs, the visual and written portraits in this book reveal much more than the contents of women's closets. Through the intimate lens of clothing, Ludwig and Piechocki expose the very personal ways that power is sought, experienced, and projected by women.
"'What do you wear that makes you feel powerful?' Artists Ludwig and Piechocki posed this question to women of all ages and backgrounds and gathered their responses for this unique celebration of womanhood. Each woman's story, accompanied by one or more photographs, presents an intriguing portrait of both inner and outer strength; one example is a glamorous-looking Oxford, Miss. woman training for the pro-boxing circuit, who confides, 'I'm overcompensating. I buy the flowered-y dresses for a reason.' The expected power suits and uniforms are represented, but accessories prove more popular; a Santa Fe 'risk-taker' and former Playboy bunny always carries her passport, while a Nashville woman uses her grandmother's pearls as 'armor' during a nerve-wracking party. Many testimonies cover life journeys and important events, forming short but satisfying narratives (some of which are deepened by multiple interviews over time). Of course, many Dumbo-esque lessons ensue ('I always had that power in me... and I got a lot of it now'), but they hardly diminish the fun of reading and sharing these revealing, funny and entirely identifiable stories. 108 color and 40 b/w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"These 'Two Girls' are 'Working' across the boundaries of art and activism to provoke fresh thinking about women, clothes, and power. Other people's stories, seen through the medium of a feminist collaboration, are fascinating...and mysteriously different from one’s own. Reading this book is like going to a great party where all the women are beautiful and powerful." Lucy R. Lippard, author of The Pink Glass Swan: Selected Feminist Essays on Art
What do women wear that makes them feel powerful? In this collection of sensitive, funny, and revealing interviews, Ludwig and Piechocki ask a variety of people that question and expose the very personal ways that power is sought, experienced, and projected by women.
About the Author
Tiffany Ludwig is an artist and media consultant. She received her BFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and currently lives in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.
Renee Piechocki is an artist and public art consultant. She received her BA from Hunter College of the City University of New York and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Together, they are known as the artist group "Two Girls Working."