The Art of Clothing


Publication Date: 1/14/2009

Professors David Jeter and Dee Birnbaum examining jewelry from her collection

Natalija Kokoreva ’10, a Fellow with the Center for Outreach in the Development of the Arts (CODA) and President of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), has always had a passion for fashion and clothing. But at Rhodes she says, “I met Professor Dee Birnbaum who introduced me to her Middle Eastern/Central Asian collection of clothing and jewelry.  I saw it and I just loved it.” Kokoreva volunteered to help catalogue the extensive, antique collection with hopes that it would one day be shown at a museum.

Now Kokoreva is working to bring the fashion out of the closets and into the limelight at Rhodes.  In a CODA/MSA co-sponsored event scheduled for April 1,  Rhodes students will model clothing and jewelry from Birnbaum’s collection in “The Art of Clothing: Middle Eastern & Central Asian Fashion Show.” The Rhodes Women′s Center is cosponsoring the event.

As part of an effort to verify the authenticity of the jewelry, Birnbaum has solicited the aid of Rhodes Chemistry Professor David Jeter in whose laboratory the identity of the metal components in the various pieces of jewelry was determined.

To verify historical accuracy, Birnbaum and Kokoreva have been in communication with various scholars and with Seref Ozen of Turkey, an expert on Ottoman and Central Asian textiles. Details in the clothing can show exactly where the garment’s owner lived, her status in life, when the garment  was made, and what big events  happened in that region that impacted the clothing.

Kokoreva, who is a biology major, notes that this is just one example of Rhodes’ progressive collaborations that combine her academic interests and personal passions. “It shows that art matters to people from all kinds of backgrounds, and people can connect through that art in unexpected ways,” she says.

For additional information visit: Costumes, Islamic Dress Code, Extra Fashion Articles and Art of Fashion Map.