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Welcome to Philadelphia Jazz Project

Fashion & Jazz

coverA few years ago, PJP was introduced to an interesting gentlemen, Alphonso D. McClendon; Author, Fashion Historian and Assistant Professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University. McClendon was a participant in our November 2013 Community Conversation, Cool Like What?: A Conversation on the History of Cool. His work is about the investigation of style in Jazz and African American culture that influence fashion, media and popular culture.


Everyone has their opinions about where styles originate. Well, his guy has done the homework and research and can point to the path and the sources of particular style inventions. In his new book, Fashion and Jazz: Dress, Identity and Subcultural Improvisation, Alphonso D. McClendon does just that. “This book demonstrates how two connected art forms [Fashion and Jazz] exemplify freedom of expression, improvisational showmanship, pursuits of modernity and cultural transformation in America and globally.” says McClendon. “Without jazz – its architects, struggles for equality and the multicultural roots and style of the music – contemporary society would be less connected.”


As this is Jazz Appreciation Month, and one of the under expressed aspects of Jazz fact is its influence on Fashion and Language, it seems only fitting that Alphonso D. McClendon will present his book launch on Monday, April 20 at 6 p.m.  He will will discuss, as well as sign copies of the book. The event is free and open to the public, and will take place in URBN Center Room 349, 3501 Market Street on the campus of Drexel University in Philadelphia.


See more at: Fashion & Jazz


Philadelphia Jazz Project asked Alphonso D. McClendon about the process and experience of writing such an important book.

PJP: What was the inspiration for writing this book?

McClendon: The goal was to analyze and frame the visual and behavioral representations of jazz and African American aesthetics that influence fashion, media and popular culture. Equally, I wanted to document how artists utilized dress and appearance to exemplify freedom of expression, improvisational showmanship, pursuits of modernity and equality, and cultural transformation in America and globally.



PJP:  During the process of researching for this book, what did you encounter that really surprised or impressed you?

McClendon: I was most amazed by the hostility that jazz received in the media challenging the music’s origins, structure, dress, and culture. All of this aggression was juxtaposed to its zealous appropriation into mainstream culture via films, sheet music, theatrical productions, and clothing.


PJP: What can contemporary readers take away from the experience of reading this book?

McClendon: The complex and lengthy history of jazz serves as a roadmap for the genesis of new forms of music that transform and defy race, class and gender concepts in society.



PJP: Who are/were some of the Jazz musicians who stood out to you in terms of their style and clothing?

McClendon: Of course, Billie Holiday is at the top of my list. She had brilliant transformations over a thirty-year period by embracing gardenias, turbans, minks, platforms, slacks, ponytails and cat glasses. Other unsung greats include Oran “Hot Lips” Page, Lester Young, Earl “Fatha” Hines and Lee Morgan. They were modern dandies dismantling racial stereotypes.


Fashion & Jazz Book Release & Signing Event

Monday, April 20th at 6 p.m.

Drexel University URBN Center Room 349,

3501 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA




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Tags : Fashion&Jazz AlphonsoD.McClendon URBNCenter DrexelUniversity BookSigning FashionandJazz:Dress IdentityandSubculturalImprovisation BillieHoliday LesterYoung Earl“Fatha”Hines Oran“HotLips”Page LeeMorgan


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