PREFACE This MA project investigates relationships between fashion, memory, identity and experience, and is aimed at finding forms of fashion design and consumption that are meaningful, personal and sustainable. By allowing the wearer to ‘manifest’ their own experiences into the garments, life is breathed into them: they become personal and meaningful. The past is made explicit in the garments, while what we wear is an expression of our present selves and who we wish to be in the future. As we remember experience over ‘stuff’, clothing becomes a material manifestation of our memories. Various memory types are represented in the designs: those that are ephemeral as well as others, which are ‘etched’ into the brain. This collection embodies true representations of us by drawing on our very own experiences, as opposed to those superimposed by a fashion industry primarily interested in endless consumption. In that sense, this project aims to help combat over-consumption of clothing. The collection attempt to answer the question: if the meaning of our clothing is currently formed through our personal memories and experience rather than through its inherent design, how can design in fact facilitate or explicitly visualize this manifestation of memory in fashion? The significance of this project in the context of creating a more meaningful and sustainable material culture is critically examined.
â€œTime present and time past are both perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in time past.â€? -T.S. Eliot
Consumption is not only an integral part of the formation and maintenance of our identities but also part of the 1 development of style cultures.
1 Edwards, T. (2000) Contradictions of Consumption â€“ Concepts, Pratices and Politics in Consumer Society. Buckingham, USA: Open University Press.
what does this excessive consumption and disposal of clothing tell us about our style culture?
Prior to photographs, miniature portraits accompanied with locks of hair kept in lockets were prevalent. Yet these fell out of usage with the 2 emergence of photography. In this project, the historical embedding a physical manifestation of memory (in this case hair) is revived, reinterpreted and applied to garments. This approach does not aim to defy or deny progress but to enrich the less material digital age with tactile and experiential elements. It is believed that this will help create a culture of consumption based on genuine values.
2 Hallam, E. and Hockney, J. (2001) Death, Memory and Material Culture. Oxford: Berg.
Consumer goods are not actually consumed but experienced, either in memory or in the present, as ele3 ments of identity. The commodities are neutral and only in the way they are used do they become ‘bridges’ 4 or ‘barriers’ in social interactions. It is for this reason that the garments in this project’s collection are designed to represent ‘blank canvasses’ onto which thoughts can be made tangible: clean, geometric lines in muted shades of delicate to very stiff fabric are intended to create spaces for abstract ideas to become tactile and visible.
3 Kwint, M., Breward, C. and Aynsley, J. (eds.) (1999) Material Memories: Design and Evocation. Oxford, Berg. 4 Douglas & Isherwood cited by Svendsen, L. (2006) Fashion: A Philosophy. London: Reaction Books Ltd. p. 115.
We often confuse memories and imagination, as they share many 5 neurological processes. Thus, the act of remembering is a creative one, involving imagination, just as the act of consumption should inspire thought and creativity in ways of recombining and reinterpreting.
5 Robson, D. (ed) (2012) Memory â€“ the Ultimate Guide. New Scientist, 2885, 6 October 2012, pp. 33-43.
Women in particular often experience disquiet in express6 ing identities through fashion. This in turn may be connected to the transient super-imposed meaning of products, i.e. that women are pressured to constantly reinvent themselves. Art historian Anne Hollander even describes fashion 7 as ‘tyranny’ . And analogies to sex have been drawn: both consumption and sex ignite a passion, which consumes 8 the person, rendering them helpless. However, one does not go shopping in order to feel more anxious and helpless but, if not out of pure necessity, for pleasure. It is in an attempt to help create a less anxiety-driven, over-commoditized expression of a transient and super-imposed identity, that this project explores ideas about memory.
6 Woodward, S. (2007) Why Women Wear What They Wear (Materializing Culture). Oxford: Berg. 7 Hollander cited by Svendsen, L. (2006) Fashion: A Philosophy. London: Reaction Books Ltd. p. 156 8 Edwards, T. (2000) Contradictions of Consumption – Concepts, Pratices and Politics in Consumer Society. Buckingham, USA: Open University Press.
How can we consume with less anxiety and fear - but with more joy and satisfaction? How can our Past be reflected in present-time as authentic expressions of ourselves?
To become ‘oneself’ is perhaps not to uncover a ‘true’ self by consuming products, but by being oneself, which can be achieved by maintaining the link between your past and your future. In fact, ‘material objects have less significance in perpetuating memory than embodied acts, rituals 9 and social behaviour’. Hence, the material outcome of this project is not an end in itself but a means to accessing or expressing past experiences. Here consumption becomes the means to and end rather than an end in itself.
9 Connerton cited by Forty, A. and Küchler, S. (eds) (1999) The Art of Forgetting. Oxford: Berg. p. 1.
The aim of this project is to induce the wearer to reflect on his/her own experiences and past; the act of evocation contributes to the individualâ€™s wellbeing. This approach is instrumental to a consumption model that values human experience, history and individuality in constructing our identities through fashion. It is a reaction to a current model, which relies on anxiety and is commodity-driven. It aims to supplement the digital, abstract and manipulated manifestations of memory currently dominant in post-modernity in an attempt to combat the detrimental over-consumption of fashion products.
This project demonstrates tangible and authentic expressions of memory in fashion that also embody sensory experience and participation.
Jacket: organic cotton + bamboo lining Blouse: organic silk (tea&iron dyed with human hair embroidery) Skirt: donated fabric
Top: organic tussah (peace) silk + organic silk (tea&iron dyed with human hair embroidery) Trouser: organic cotton twill
Dress: organic tussah (peace) silk + organic silk (tea&iron dyed with human hair embroidery) Skirt: silk
Top: organic silk (tea&iron dyed with rust print) Skirt: silk
Jacket: donated fabric + organic cotton Skirt: donated fabric + organic cotton
Blouse: organic silk (tea&iron dyed with human hair embroidery) Top: organic tussah (peace) silk + organic silk (tea&iron dyed with human hair embroidery) Skirt: donated fabric
Photography: Ollie Morris & Anja Crabb Models: Leonora Flagstaff & Thalia Warren