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Fashion Historian Cassidy Zachary on Passion for Arab Fashion and Importance of Diverse Perspectives

Cassidy Zachary is a fashion historian, author, and podcaster specializing in the social and cultural significance of dress throughout history and today. The interdisciplinary nature of her work centers fashion both as a subject and an analytical lens with which to explore the complex relationships between embodied identities, race, gender, sexuality, politics, and religion. Cultured Focus Magazine caught up with Zachary on the heels of her latest interview with The Zay Initiative headed by Dr Reem El Mutwalli. The Zay Intiative is a non-profit, UK registered initiative advancing the preservation of cultural heritage through the collection, documentation and digital archiving of Arab historical attire and their stories. The initiative’s goal is to empower and sustain global cross cultural dialogue by promoting an understanding of the evolution of regional culture and appreciation of the region’s unique heritage. Zachary’s work with The Zay Initiative is one of her latest projects of many that she is passionate about. She speaks to the importance of the initiative showcasing a diverse range of expression through the use of clothing, but also by attaching the stories of each article of clothing that is donated to the initiative. By providing the background of each historical article of clothing, families and other donors are able to continue the legacy of their loved-one to present day, which has inspired millions young men and women throughout the region and globally. Zachary noted “Not only are you able to value the clothing itself as an act of craftsmanship and art form, but you are also learning about the women who embodied those garments and that is what I particularly love about The Zay”. During our informative discussion with her, she also discusses the importance of knowing history in order to understand the present, how the industry has evolved to empower, and her upcoming projects. View the full video discussion below.

For more information, you can follow Zachary and her co-host April Calahan as they discuss fashion topics in depth during their twice weekly, award-nominated podcast Dressed: the History of Fashion (iHeartRadio). Called “the gold standard in fashion podcasting” by Vogue, Dressed is now in its fourth season.

Zachary also shares her passion for fashion and dress history daily on her popular Instagram account The Art of Dress. Originally conceived as a way to share her early twentieth century fashion research, the account has now become an international platform for celebrating the art of dress with over 300,000 followers.

She lectures throughout the United States at institutions including LACMA, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Dallas Museum of Art. She has contributed to numerous publications including the most recently published The Showgirl: An Illustrated History. Her first book entitled Fashion and the Art of Pochoir, co-authored with April Calahan, was published by Thames & Hudson in 2015.

She holds an MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, and Museum Practice from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a BA in Theater Design from the University of New Mexico. She is currently pursuing her PhD in History at the University of New Mexico.


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