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Jacki Lyden

While we may always be concerned with the lives of the rich and famous, the rich and famous don't always deserve that concern. Even in the hands of the legendary biographer Mary Lovell, I wondered if the denizens of The Riviera Set would sustain our interest five decades on, for the book ends in 1960 — and ostentatious wealth is now on a nasty bender.

Beginning Friday, the New York branch of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian will host the exhibit Native Fashion Now, a traveling show from the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. It highlights a dazzling array of contemporary fashion made by dozens of Native American designers.

Recently, on a hot summer morning with cumulus clouds towering overhead, black cattle grazed in South Florida fields, dotting the horizon along with clumps of palm trees. At the Big Cypress Reservation, Moses Jumper is a tribal elder and owner of nearly 300 head — and a fourth-generation cattleman.

The Seams, an occasional NPR series on clothing as culture, has been reporting a series about Florida Seminole Indian patchwork and its heritage and use in tribal life. Read the first installment in this series, "Osceola At The Fifty Yard Line."

Seminole patchwork is not well-known outside the state of Florida. The Seams looks at culture through clothing — and within this hand-sewn and folded patchwork is the story of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Elsa Schiaparelli, known as the Queen of Fashion, was the supreme innovator of dress design in the first half of the 20th century. Based in Paris, she seemed to know what women wanted before anyone else, says author Meryle Secrest. But Secrest's new Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography begins with the designer's emotionally starved, lonely childhood in a vast palazzo in Rome.

It can be hard to talk about clothes in an intelligent way. Fashion critic Kennedy Fraser once wrote in The New Yorker that the act of donning a garment can seem almost furtive or trivial, something beneath debate or intellectual content. The editors of Women in Clothes would agree that it's a challenge. The book collects essays, conversations, pictures and testimonials from more than 600 women talking about how clothes shape or reflect them as human beings.

In a small shed in Tenancingo, Mexico, partly open to the sky, about a half-dozen men stand behind huge wooden looms. They pedal side-by-side, their churning feet making a beautiful harmony as they craft handmade rebozos.

Rebozos, long rectangular shawls that came into style in Mexico in the 16th century, and the huipil, a woven and embroidered blouse or dress of pre-Columbian origin, are the main elements of Mexican traditional dress.

Thursday in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art officially reopens its fashion galleries after a $40 million, two-year renovation.

Named for Vogue magazine's editor, the Anna Wintour Costume Center features an inaugural exhibit of the work of Charles James, a flamboyant designer considered America's first couturier. This caps days of glamorous events at the Met, including the Costume Institute's benefit gala, presided over by Wintour — with Hollywood stars.

In the mid-1960s, society was changing; shaking off old ideas and trying on new ones for size. There were changes on the political front, like the civil rights movement and the looming war in Vietnam, as well as on the cultural front, with new celebrities popping up on TV every night.

Last year, there were more than two-dozen shootings on or near college campuses in the United States. This past Tuesday, that number went up, with the fatal shooting of a student at Purdue University. Then Friday, a fatal shooting at South Carolina State University. It will, of course, tick up again.

Urban explorer Steve Duncan goes underground, examining the hidden infrastructure of major cities all over the world: their tunnels, subways and sewers. Late in 2010, NPR's Jacki Lyden joined Duncan and a group of subterranean adventurers in New York. (This story originally aired on All Things Considered on Jan. 2, 2011.)

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A thousand years ago, a Persian poet named Abolqasem Ferdowsi of Tous obtained a royal commission to put the ancient legends and myths of Iran into a book of verse.

He called this epic Shahnameh, or "Epic of the Persian Kings." It took him more than three decades and comprises 60,000 couplets — twice the length of The Iliad and The Odyssey combined.

Author Azar Nafisi, who wrote the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, says the importance of this foundational myth epic to Iranians can't really be overstated.

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Arpeggios ricochet through three speakers and envelop us. We're on the modernist Bauhaus staircase at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, listening to techno-inspired electronica. This piece is part of a new exhibit, "Soundings: A Contemporary Score," that opens today.

BARBARA LONDON: I wanted work that pushed limits, pushed boundaries.

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And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

In the winter of 2012, I came across a story on a drive through central coastal Florida in the town of Fort Pierce. Route 1 is now dominated by strip malls and fading condos, but the Florida of the 1950s and '60s was a candy-colored Eisenhower, Kennedy space-age dream of flaming red Poinciana trees and untamed beaches.

When you hear the word dandy, what do you think of?

Maybe the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy," which dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War, and compares the colonists to foppish, effeminate idiots: the dandies.

But a summer exhibit at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, closing Aug. 18, aims to reclaim the term. It explores dandyism through the ages, linking to the cutting edge of men's fashion and style. The name of the show is "Artist, Rebel, Dandy: Men of Fashion" — which does still leave you wondering what you might see.

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Earlier today in South Africa where Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition, President Barack Obama arrived and gave a speech at the University of Cape Town, outlining Africa's increasingly prominent role.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Progress is also rippled across the African continent. You know, from Senegal to Cote d'Ivoire to Malawi, democracy has weathered strong challenges. Many of the fastest growing economies in the world are here in Africa where there's a historic shift taking place.

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It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

Once again, Egypt's iconic Tahrir Square has been inundated with hundreds of thousands of protesters.

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The Bark River is my backyard, childhood river. And yet, in a lifetime of travel, I'd never explored it.

I knew it carved the land from the Ice Age to settlement times, from the Black Hawk War of 1832 (in which young Abraham Lincoln appears) to the era of grist mills. But the Bark also flows past impressive Indian mounds. It nurtured poets, naturalists and farmers.

When former Marquette University professor Milton Bates published his Bark River Chronicles through the Wisconsin State Historical Society, I jumped at the chance to learn about the river with him.

If you traveled by way of Florida's Route 1 in the '60s and '70s, you might have encountered young African-American landscape artists selling oil paintings of an idealized, candy-colored, Kennedy-era Florida. They painted palms, beaches, poinciana trees and sleepy inlets on drywall canvases — and they came to be known as the Highwaymen. The group made thousands of pictures, until the market was saturated, tastes changed, and the whole genre dwindled.

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