This volume is the latest of the fruits of a multidisciplinary project that was originated at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The project, which bears the same title as the present volume, included an exhibition held at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College (February 14-June 1, 2006), a PhD seminar at the Graduate Center co-taught by Eugenia Paulicelli and Joseph Glick, a series of lectures, and an international symposium in spring 2006 that took place at the Graduate Center, co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Certifi cate Program, the Renaissance Studies Certifi cate Program, the Center for Culture, Politics, and Place, the Offi ce of Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Offi ce of the Provost, all at the CUNY Graduate Center; and by the Department of Art and Design Studies, Parsons the New School for Design, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Merimò, New York University, and the Italian Cultural Institute, New York. Most of the papers contained in the volume were initially delivered at the CUNY conference. This and all the other events organized around the project saw a wonderful synergy of scholars, undergraduates, and doctoral students from a variety of disciplines and cultures interacting with each other, engaging in conversation and sharing their fi ndings and expertise. As in a multicolored tapestry, scholars and students explored a series of topics: the relationship of fashion to identity; the global and the local; the interrelations of cultures, to name but a few. The aims of the Fabric of Cultures project were threefold: to show the complexity in the production and consumption of fashion; to investigate the mechanisms of cultural production; and to examine the interaction between personal, national, and transnational identities.1 At the core of both the project and this volume is the claim that fashion is a privileged lens through which to gain a new understanding of cultures, and individual lives, as well as of the mechanisms regulating cultural and economic production in the past and in the present. Breward and Evans have written that “fashion is a process in two senses: it is a market-driven cycle of consumer desire and demand; and it is a modern mechanism for the fabrication of the self. It is in this respect that fashion operates as a fulcrum for negotiating the meeting of internal and external worlds” (Breward and
Evans 2005: 3). Fashion, however, is also a cultural system of meanings and an ongoing process of communication. The meanings of clothes are acquired through a process of cultural mediation that takes place in a variety of ways, such as fi lm, photography, the internet, publicity, and magazines, as well as individual taste and choices.