Stylish 2,000-Year-Old Roman Shoe Found in a Well

When the Romans pushed their way north into the German provinces, they built (circa 90 AD) The Saalburg, a fort that protected the boundary between the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribal territories. At its peak, 2,000 people lived in the fort and the attached village. It remained active until around 260 AD.

Somewhere during the 19th century, The Saalburg was rediscovered and excavated, then later fully reconstructed. It's now a UNESCO World Heritage site and houses the Saalburg Museum, which contains many Roman relics, including a 2,000 year old shoe, apparently found in a local well.




If you think the Italians have mastered the craft of making shoes, well, they don't have much on their ancestors. According to the site Romans Across Europe, the Romans  "were the originators of the entire-foot-encasing shoe." The site continues:

There was a wide variety of shoes and sandals for men and women. Most were constructed like military caligae, with a one-piece upper nailed between layers of the sole. Many had large open-work areas made by cutting or punching circles, triangles, squares, ovals, etc. in rows or grid-like patterns. Others were more enclosed, having only holes for the laces. Some very dainty women’s and children’s shoes still had thick nailed soles.

The image above, which puts all of the Roman's shoe-making skill on display, comes to us via Reddit and imgur.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in July 2016.

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Van Gogh’s Art Now Adorns Vans Shoes

While museums remain free for the most part in Europe and still so popular that they are loved better than luxury brands (according to this one article), funding is not what it used to be. As you might have seen with our posts on Hieronymus Bosch on (Dr. Marten’s) Boots, wearable classic art is kind of a thing now.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam announced a series of limited-edition Vans (Van Gogh, Vans shoes, get it?!) featuring patterns based on his paintings: "Skull" (1887), "Almond Blossom" (1890), "Sunflowers" (1889) and van Gogh's "Self-Portrait as a Painter" (1887-1888). There’s even a shoe that uses writing from one of his letters, including stamp and address, as a pattern.




Would ol’ Vincent been happy with this, seeing the public want to wear his work? He was certainly happy in that Doctor Who episode where he traveled forward in time to know he hadn’t suffered in vain. But would he have liked to see his art wrapped around fans’ bodies?

Because the Vans line doesn’t stop at shoes, it features baseball hats, t-shirts, hoodies, and backpacks. There is undoubtedly a lot of detail put into them. These aren’t quick knock offs made for a tourist stall. The shoe interiors contain addition designs, and each product comes with information about the work.

And it’s all for a good cause: a portion of each sale goes back to the Van Gogh Museum to help with funding and preservation.

That’s a sight better than 2017’s Van Gogh bags designed by artist/cultural appropriator Jeff Koons for Louis Vuitton, for which he slapped some masterpieces on a $5,000 handbag and hung “VAN GOGH” in blocky fake-gold letters on the front. (If it makes you feel better, Louis Vuitton burns all its leftover product lest it fall into the hands of the poors.)

The Vans Van Gogh collection store opens August 3, so we can’t even tell you how much these shoes might be. But if the Doc Marten’s are anything to go by, they will sell out quick.

Cool way to help fund a museum, or just pure commodification? Let us know below.

via This is Colossal

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Download Hundreds of Van Gogh Paintings, Sketches & Letters in High Resolution

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Hear David Lynch Read from His New Memoir Room to Dream, and Browse His New Online T-Shirt Store

We think of David Lynch as a filmmaker, and rightly so, but the director of EraserheadBlue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive has long kept a more diverse creative portfolio. He began as a painter, studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and has also tried his hand at photographymusic, and comic strips. More recently, writes the AV Club's Randall Colburn, "Lynch has also released his own line of coffee, collaborated on Twin Peaks-themed beer and skateboards, and created his own festival. His latest endeavor? T-shirts, which is wild because it’s hard to imagine the ever-dapper filmmaker ever wearing one."

Perhaps a line of Lynch-approved traditional white shirts, made to be buttoned all the way up even without a tie, remains in development. But for now, fans choose from the 57 T-shirts designs now available at Studio: David Lynch's Amazon store. All suitable for wearing to your local revival house, they include "Turkey Cheese Head," "Cowboy," "Small Dog,""Small Barking Dog,"and "You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me." What kind of life, now solidly into its eighth decade, has both enabled and driven Lynch to make not just so many things, but so many Lynchian things? Perhaps we can find a few answers within the nearly 600 pages of Room to Dream, Lynch's new memoir.

"Fans who share Lynch’s pleasure in mystery will approach this book anxiously, hoping that his secrets may somehow be both revealed and sustained," writes the Washington Post's Charles Arrowsmith of the book, an excerpt of which you can hear read by Lynch himself above. (He begins by saying "I'm going to tell you a story about my grandparents" and ends with the image of his young self vomiting into a helmet he'd brought to school for show-and-tell.) And those who fear that the conventionality of the memoir form might flatten out Lynch's idiosyncrasies can rest assured that "in telling his life story, Lynch demonstrates the same disregard for causality and tonal consistency that marks his films."

Despite including not just Lynch's perspective but the perspectives of many others ("surprisingly candid ex-wives, family members, actors, agents, musicians, and colleagues in various fields," proclaims the jacket copy), "Room to Dream pulls off a neat trick in drawing back a curtain and revealing relatively little. Despite the book’s heft, there’s not much to explicate the mysteries of Lynch’s work. But then, for him, the mystery’s the thing. To explain would be to destroy. What we get instead is insight into his creative process." As dedicated Lynch enthusiasts understand, the creative process, which throughout his career has led him not to answers but ever more strangely compelling questions, is everything.

Note: When Room to Dream comes out on June 19th, you can download the audiobook version, which Lynch helps narrate, for free if you sign up for Audible's free trial program. We have details on that program here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

How Dr. Martens’ Boots Are Made

In recent months, we've highlighted how Dr. Martens, the iconic boot maker, has tried to reinvent itself by creating more artistically inspired boots, some actually adorning the artwork of William Blake, Hieronymus Bosch, and traditional Japanese artists. These aren't your grandfather's Doc Martens, to be sure.

But however different Docs may now look on the outside, they haven't changed much on the inside. Just watch the video above, which takes you on a tour of "Dr. Martens' only UK factory on Cobbs Lane in Wollaston, Northamptonshire." The factory "employs 50 workers that make about 100,000 pairs of boots per year," all in the company's tried and true way....

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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Doc Martens Boots Now Come Adorned with Traditional Japanese Art

 

How Women Got Dressed in the 14th & 18th Centuries: Watch the Very Painstaking Process Get Cinematically Recreated

We live in an age of convenience, and one getting more convenient all the time. Few comparisons between past and present underscore that quite so much as the morning routine. Hot and cold running water on demand, properly appreciated, can seem miraculous enough, let alone more recent developments like the availability of high-quality coffee on every city block. But consider clothing, the change in whose outward appearance over the past 700 years or so goes along with an equally dramatic change in use. We still wear clothes for all the same basic reasons we did back then, of course, but what it takes to wear them has diminished to comparative effortlessness.

These videos, one on getting dressed in the 14th century and one on getting dressed in the 18th century, offer detailed, narrated, and cinematic looks at what the process once entailed — or at least what the process entailed for English women of a certain class.




The average man in those periods, too, had to deal with much more hassle putting on his clothes in the morning that he does today, but the female case, with its shift, stays, petticoats, pockets, roll, stockings and garters, gown and stomacher, apron, and more besides, required not just a great deal of discipline and concentration on the part of the dresser but assistance from another pair of hands as well.

You can find more such videos on the finer points of women's dressing routines of yore, including further explanations of such elements as pockets and busks, on this playlist. The social, technological, and industrial stories behind why it has all become so much less complicated over the centuries has provided, and will continue to provide, the driving questions for many an academic thesis. But despite the enormous reduction in the labor-intensiveness of putting them on, clothes have not, of course, become a perfectly simple matter for we dressers of the comparatively ultra-casual 21st century. Still, after watching all it took to get dressed those hundreds and hundreds of years ago, many of us — male or female — might arrive at the thought that we could stand to put just a little more effort into the job.

via Boing Boing

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Doc Martens Boots Now Come Adorned with Traditional Japanese Art

In wake of a recent prom cheongsam dust up, it remains to be seen whether Doc Martens’ special edition Eastern Art shoes and boots will be regarded as a misstep.

Dr. Martens' Artist Series paid tribute to Western heavy hitters like Hieronymus BoschWilliam Hogarth, JMW Turner, and William Blake.

Those eye-catching kicks may have inspired more than a few fashion-conscious punks to delve into art history, but what will consumers—and more importantly activists on the alert for cultural appropriation—make of the Eastern Art line?




The company website describes the inaugural design as:

a new homage to traditional Japanese art with a fresh, contemporary … spin. Featuring detailed hand-drawn paintings, the art is digitally printed on a textured leather designed to emulate traditional Japanese parchment, while gold-tone eyelets and studding complete the look.

One wonders what led the footwear giant to go with a mishmash “inspired by” approach, when there are so many wonderful Edo period artists who merit a boot of their own?

Katsushika Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife (see here) would make for an unforgettable toe cap…

Kitagawa Utamaro could shod heels and ankles with the floating world.

Tawaraya Sōtatsu’s work would easily transfer from screen to shoe.

Thus far, the lone complaints have centered on the pain of breaking in the new boots, a badge of honor among longtime wearers of the company’s best-selling 1460 Pascal style.

Asia Trend reports that Doc Martens has two shops in Japan, with plans to open more.

If you’re inclined to stomp around in a pair of Dr. Martens 1460 Pascal Eastern Art boots or 1461 Oxfords, best place your order soon, as these special editions have a way of selling out quickly.

via MyModernMet

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

100 Years of Drag Queen Fashion in 4 Minutes: An Aesthetic Journey Moving from the 1920s Through Today

Drag superstar RuPaul’s Drag Race program can be credited with bringing his subculture to a much wider audience.

For ten seasons, viewers outside the major metropolitan areas and select holiday destinations where drag has flourished have tuned in to root for their favorite competitors.

As a result, mainstream America has developed a much more nuanced appreciation for the labor and artistry behind successful drag performance and personae.




Vanity Fair’s "100 Years of Drag Queen Fashion," above, is not so much an evolutionary history of the form as a salute to some of its pioneers, practitioners, and patron saints.

Each decade opens with a Drag Race alum facing the makeup mirror in a relatively naked state.  Shangela Laquifa Wadley, Raja, and Detox all appear sans fard. Kim Chi’s heavily made up eyes are eyelash-free.

The 70’s spin on the late, great Divine is more reminiscent of cis-gender disco queen Donna Summer than the outrageous plus-sized muse director John Waters referred to as “the most beautiful woman in the world, almost.”

As portrayed in the video below, there’s a strong echo of 1930’s Pansy Performer Jean Malin in RuPaul’s glamorous presentation.

In reality, the resemblance is not quite so strong. Although Malin got dolled up in Mae West drag in 1933’s Arizona to Broadway, above, left to his own devices his stage presence was that of an openly effeminate gay man, or “pansy.” As Professor George Chauncey, director of Columbia University’s Research Initiative on the Global History of Sexualities observes in his book, Gay New York:

 His very presence on the club floor elicited the catcalls of many men in the club, but he responded to their abuse by ripping them to shreds with the drag queen's best weapon: his wit. 'He had a lisp, and an attitude, but he also had a sharp tongue,' according to one columnist. 'The wise cracks and inquiries of the men who hooted at his act found ready answer.' And if hostile spectators tried to use brute force to take him on after he had defeated them with his wit, he was prepared to humble them on those terms as well. 'He was a huge youth,' one paper reported, 'weighing 200, and a six footer. Not a few professional pugilists sighed because Jean seemed to prefer dinner rings to boxing rings.' Although Malin's act remained tame enough to safeguard its wide appeal, it nonetheless embodied the complicated relationship between pansies and 'normal' men. His behavior was consistent with their demeaning stereotype of how a pansy should behave, but he demanded their respect; he fascinated and entertained them, but he also threatened and infuriated them.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Other legendary figures honored by Vanity Fair include Francis Renault (1893-1955), Lavern Cummings (1925-1991), and Danny LaRue (1927-2009).

Also some gender bending lad by the name David Bowie, though if Vanity Fair’s skinny Divine causes a slight sense of unease, the hideous vinyl raincoat sported by its snarling, whip-wielding Bowie facsimile may send fans scuttling for torches and pitchforks.

As to the future, Joan Jetson collars and pink wedding cake wigs appear to be part of drag’s fashion forecast.

Cis-male skeletal structures may not always lend themselves to period-appropriate female silhouettes, but the towering heels on display are faithful to the art of the drag queen, above all else.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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