JOURNAL OF DRESS PRACTICE
FA S H I O N + C E L E B R AT I O N
DRESS PRACTICE COLLECTIVE M I S S I O N S TAT E M E N T The Dress Practice Collective is a New School student-run organization aimed at joining elements of visual culture, fashion theory, design studies and personal practice through a variety of media. We hope to spark conversations and initiate collaborations between students, faculty and members of the greater community. The organization was founded in Spring 2013 for the purpose of presenting exhibitions, organizing workshops, and publishing original content.
FA S H O N C E L E B R AT O N
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
CELEBRATION À LA MODE: FASHION IN ACADEMIA Nathaniel Dafydd Beard
A FEMINIST MOMENT Rachel Lifter
SEAMSTRESS LUXE Camila Abisambra
FASHION MAHILA Arti Sandhu
CELEBRATING ILLNESS THROUGH DESIGN Julie Mahdavi
EMBROIDERED IDENTITY: A PALESTINIAN STORY OF MEMORY AND SPACE Mohammad M. Hamad
IN DEFENSE OF COUPLES’ WEAR Noelle Kichura
FASHION STEREOTYPES Matthew Cook
LET’S HAVE A BLACK CELEBRATION: THE OCCULT YOGA OF HEALTH GOTH Otto von Busch
FASHIONING THE FILM: TOM FORD AS MARKETEER, OR INTERDISCIPLINARY STORYTELLER? Charlotte Dwyer
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THE INFLUENCE OF COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY ON OUR LIVES Jamileh Nadelman
GRACE: AN INCLUSIVE FASHION COLLECTION Simeon Morris & José Teunissen
T-SHIRT: A SARTORIAL OBJECT AS A CELEBRATION OF CULTURAL BECOMING Alla Eizenberg
ENSŌ: CELEBRATING THE BODY THROUGH DESIGN Dominique Dajeé Norman
MARTIN MARGIELA’S PRACTICE IN DEFENSE OF SLOW FASHION Eleni Baltzoglou
ABSENCE Alexandra Oates
SUITS FOR THE IN-BETWEEN: AN INTERVIEW WITH GAHEE LIM Alani Gaunt
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HANDBAG AND WOMEN’S EMANCIPATION Capucine Giraudet
REDRESSING LADY LIBERTY: SARTORIAL BORDER CROSSING IN TRUMP’S AMERICA Kalina Yingnan Deng
Co-Editor-in-Chief Alani Gaunt Camila Abisambra Art Director & Designer Vaishnavi Kambadur Assistant Editor & Assistant Designer Noelle Kichura Assistant Editors Eleni Baltzoglou Julie Mahdavi Malini Mathur Faculty Advisors Francesca Granata and Maureen Brewster Founding Editors Sara Idacavage + Kim Jenkins + Rachel Kinnard + Laura Peach
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LETTER FROM THE EDITORS In our contemporary socio-political context, the idea of fashion in relation to Celebration is counterintuitive. Previous issues of BIAS have tackled themes of Healing, Politics, Surveillance, and most recently, Violence. As fashion studies scholars, we often gravitate toward more critical perspectives on fashion and the way it functions both as a social system and as an industry. While this kind of critical analysis and research is imperative if we are to interrogate the problems inherent to the world we live in, it is also important to understand the ways in which fashion has the potential to function as a positive social instrument as well. The fifth issue of BIAS aims to address this potential by exploring the ways in which fashion can be used to celebrate diverse aspects of identity. Whether it is design for disability, queer visibility, or racial diversity, or as a job market that welcomes minorities especially, fashion can be used as a tool to increase awareness and accessibility for diverse identities within the fashion system. Some of the essays in this issue address the ways in which fashion design can be used to celebrate various aspects of identity. These range from the importance of traditional tatreez embroidery to identity in the Palestinian diaspora, to design to raise awareness for sickle cell anemia, to projects celebrating body positivity and diversity in the fashion silhouette. Some deal with design as a means with which to develop more inclusive solutions in fashion, such as a research project to aid in design for people who use wheelchairs and an essay on the role of the handbag in womenâ€™s liberation. Other projects are concerned with the labor opportunities certain at-risk subjects have had because of fashion and how fashion studies can help build a system of celebration and inclusion. Can fashion be a space for celebration? Alani Gaunt and Camila Abisambra BIAS Editors, 2017
CONTRIBUTORS Camila Abisambra is a lawyer from Universidad de los Andes in Colombia and a candidate for the MA in Fashion Studies at Parsons The New School for Design. Her research interests include luxury, art, and subcultural studies. Her thesis is on the relationship between graffiti culture and luxury fashion and the relationships between dominant culture and subcultures. She is this year’s Co-Editor-in-Chief of BIAS. Eleni Baltzoglou is a second-year graduate student in the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons The New School for Design and serves as a Communications Associate at XRC Labs. Her thesis focuses on the flourishing second-hand clothing market in NYC and explores current retail practices and consumption routines that have managed to turn the search for dated attire into a fashionable habit. Nathaniel Dafydd Beard is a Co-Founder of the Fashion Research Network, Senior Lecturer at Coventry University London, and PhD Candidate at Royal College of Art, London. Otto von Busch is a Swedish black metallurgist and fashion spiritualist teacher at Parsons The New School for Design. One of his first texts on design theory was on the connection between alchemy and fashion, and he has since used lenses such as theology, occultism, shapeshifting and shamanism to examine the magic rituals of dress. Matthew Cook is a Fashion Design student at Parsons The New School for Design whose work explores how emotions are seen on the outside versus how those emotions are felt on the inside by those experiencing them. Kalina Yingnan Deng holds a B.A. in Philosophy cum laude from Wellesley College and is a first year in the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons The New School for Design. She is part of a joint research endeavor on the psychopolitics of fashion, called FashioPolitics, with Dr. Otto von Busch. Charlotte Dwyer holds a PhD in Fashion Studies from the University of Amsterdam and is a lecturer at the University of Utrecht. Alla Eizenberg is a fashion designer with experience in women’s and men’s prêt-à-porter luxury lines in Italy, France, and Israel. She holds a design faculty position with Parsons The New School for Design and is completing her MA in Fashion Studies. Alani Gaunt is a candidate for the MA in Fashion Studies at Parsons The New School for Design. Her research focuses on gender, queer studies, cultural studies, and fashion, and her MA thesis explores the relationship between suiting for women, dandyism, and the mainstreaming of queer style identities. She is also this year’s Co-Editor-in-Chief of BIAS. Capucine Giraudet is a freshman student in the undergraduate fashion design program at Parsons The New School for Design.
Mohammad M. Hamad is a Palestinian in exile who resides in New York after recently completing his graduate training in Sociology at The New School. He is active in the Palestine solidarity movement and serves on the board of directors on Brooklyn Pride.
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Noelle Kichura is a graduate student in the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons The New School for Design. She is currently researching how Modernist architecture and “floating” clothing impact embodied dress practices and corporeal conceptions for wearers, designers, and architects alike. Dr. Rachel Lifter is part of the fashion studies faculty at Parsons The New School for Design, where she teaches courses on fashion and music and fashion and the body. Her first book - Fashioning Indie: Popular Fashion, Music and Gender - is contracted with I.B. Tauris, as part of the imprint’s Dress Cultures series. She has published chapters in Fashion Cultures Revisited (Routledge 2013) and Fashioning Professionals (forthcoming, Bloomsbury). Julie Mahdavi is completing her MA in Fashion Studies at Parsons The New School for Design. Her thesis research looks at fashion and disabilities, specifically the fashioning of the prosthesis. Her previous graduate research includes issues surrounding faith-based dress and its connection to violence, modesty and its growing status as a fashion accessory. Simeon Morris is a British-born, Dutch-educated designer, currently based in Arnhem, the Netherlands. He has worked as a pattern cutter, studio manager, and design assistant in the British, Dutch, and French fashion industries, and in 2013 completed the ArtEZ Masters of Fashion course. He is a visiting lecturer at the Norwich University of the Arts, UK. José Teunissen is Dean of the School of Design and Technology at London College of Fashion, UAL, and Professor of Fashion Theory. She holds a visiting professorship in Fashion Theory and Research at ArtEZ, Institute of the Arts in Arnhem. She has worked as a journalist and was curator for Fashion and Costume at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht from 1998-2006. Jamileh Nadelman is a senior at Parsons The New School for Design majoring in Fashion Design. Her work has been published in i-D Magazine, The Style Almanac, ArtsThread and Novvo Magazine, as a well as the Swiss magazines Blick, Coop Zeitung and Schweizer Illustrierte. Dominique Dajeé Norman is a MA Fashion Studies student also pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is a fashion activist, scholar, and blogger. As an undergraduate at Washington State University, she created the first plus-size collection, also one of the only collections to feature all models of color. Alexandra Oates is an emerging artist planning to graduate in May 2017 from Parsons The New School for Design with a Bachelors in Fine Arts and Minor in Gender Studies. Her work engages in the exploration of the body through multiple mediums. Arti Sandhu studied Fashion Design in New Zealand and the US. She holds the position of Associate Professor in Fashion Design at the Columbia College in Chicago, where she also pursues research and creative practice on issues surrounding Indian fashion and global and local identity. 9
CELEBRATION À LA MODE: FASHION IN ACADEMIA Nathaniel Dafydd Beard Since the publication of Valerie Steele’s 1991 essay “The F-Word,” it would seem that we have truly moved on from a time when “The F-word still has the power to reduce many academics to embarrassed or indignant silence” . The F-word - that is Fashion – seems to no longer be something to be afraid of or to apologize for, and instead appears to be asserting itself within the context of academia in a way that may, on reflection some years hence, come to be known as a sort of ‘Golden Age’ in the development of Fashion Thinking and Fashion Studies. Or, perhaps more optimistically, we are now living in a time when Fashion is asserting its place fully and unconditionally within the parameters of academia - perhaps within museology and curation - as a field of legitimate academic enquiry. Surely that is something to celebrate? But what could have caused this happy phenomenon, this popping of champagne corks? What is the evidence supporting this celebration? Arguably, the work of Dr. Steele and those of her ‘generation’ of fashion scholars have assisted greatly in this assertion of Fashion as an area of academic study through their contributions in publications, teaching and lecturing, public 10
talks, conference appearances, and in the case of Steele specifically, in the 1997 establishment of the pioneering journal Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, and Directorship of the Museum at FIT. Other contributors of this calibre include Christopher Breward, Caroline Evans, Angela McRobbie, Joanne Entwistle, Pamela Church-Gibson, and Hazel Clark, to name just a few, who, through the 1990s and up to the present day, have sought to build on the work of earlier scholars primarily concerned with the historical aspects of fashion. These individuals have sought to address and bring to the forefront consideration of contemporary aspects of fashion and fashion thinking through ideas on modernity, the body, fashion as industry, fashion film, fashion cultures, and fashion as a part of everyday life. The work of organizations such as The Costume Society in the UK and their journal Costume, together with scholars such as Joanne B. Eicher, Aileen Ribeiro, and Lou Taylor, has been highly influential on thinking through fashion from an object-analysis approach which continues to remain an integral and important component of fashion scholarship today. In turn, this has in some respects also coincided
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with a developing interest and need to present fashion objects as items of scholarly interest in fashion exhibitions and dedicated museums. In referencing influential thinkers on fashion, no review is perhaps complete without acknowledgment of Elizabeth Wilson and her seminal book “Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity” . All of these scholars, and others, have sought to establish a healthy foundation for the evolvement of fashion within an academic context and have also assisted in widening the ‘community of practice’ that
fashion studies has since become within the USA, Europe, and beyond. If looking for proof of this, there are more opportunities than ever to pursue and to expand fashion thinking within the parameters of academia, which in itself may be viewed as a sign of strength and confidence. There are a wide variety of formats through which this can be facilitated and pursued, and together these form a community of practice for fashion which, to take Etienne Wenger’s definition, can be explained as follows: Communities of practice are an integral part of our daily lives. They are as informal and so pervasive that they 11
rarely come into explicit focus, but for the same reasons they are also quite familiar. Although the term may be new, the experience is not. Most communities of practice do not have a name and do not issue membership cards . Within the context of fashion these ‘communities of practice’ can be experienced not only through the formal confines of an academic course at institutions such as London College of Fashion, Central Saint Martins, Royal College of Art, Parsons The New School for Design, IUAV Venice and Fashion Studies Centre Stockholm University, but also through other groups and organisations. Aside from the long-established Costume Society and the Costume Society of America, other groups as diverse as the Fashion Research Network and Association of Dress Historians in the UK, Séminaire Histoire de Mode in France, and Netzwerk Mode Textil in Germany offer a forum for thinking through fashion in the form of seminars and symposiums. To further contextualize this diversity of communities of practice, other projects and organizations are also leading in opening up aspects of fashion scholarship. One notable example is The Fashion in Film Festival, established in 2006 by Marketa Uhlirova, which has (re) opened an interest in the exploration of film, and in particular archive film, from populist full-length features to small fragments hidden in archives as a site and medium of exploration for fashion researchers and dress historians. The increasing number of fashion exhibitions together with the opening of specialist fashion museums in recent years are also exemplars of this, 12
as in the cases of the Fashion and Textiles Museum in London, ModeMusuem Hasselt and MoMu Fashion Museum of the Province of Antwerp, Belgium, MUDE in Lisbon, and in exhibitions as diverse as Catwalk at the Rijksmusuem, Amsterdam, Hardy Aimes at Valence House, Dagenham, UK, The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined at the Barbican, and Mode In Flux by White Lines Projects. Other formats for exploration in fashion thinking and fashion studies include the publication of numerous journals, both print and online-based, which offer opportunities to think through fashion academic-writing and critical analysis. These include Address: Journal of Fashion Writing and Criticism edited by Johannes Reponen, Vestoj: The Journal of Sartorial Matters, edited by Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, Catwalk: Journal of Fashion Beauty and Style, edited by Dr. Jacque Lynn Foltyn and The International Journal of Fashion Studies, overseen by Dr. Agnès Rocamora. This latter journal in particular seeks to provide fashion scholars practicing in languages other than English with the opportunity to have their work translated and read by a wider audience, another indication of the larger, growing development of writing
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on fashion as a part of academic practice. Taken together with the small yet dedicated numberof publishers who seek to publish academic tomes and exhibition catalogues on fashion, these journals hint at a healthy interest in fashion as a publishable topic
â€œPerhaps now is also the time to celebrate the current culture and community of practice that fashion academia now affords.â€? of scholarly interest to a globally active community of practice. Fashion is celebrated through the pages of glossy magazines, advertising, department store window displays, and in the images of fashion shows and parties appearing on Instagram feeds and in Snapchat messages, all of which are often essential material to the academic fashion researcher. Yet perhaps now is also the time to celebrate the current culture and community of practice that fashion academia now affords. Challenges to this growth are still inherent, but perhaps these too are to be celebrated. They encourage creativity and the development of new skill sets to further the community of practice that is to lead fashion academia through this period and into future successes in publishing, teaching, events hosting, and curating - and that is something to be celebrated.
A FEMINIST MOMENT
A version of this essay appeared in n0thing, Edition I, January 2017
There is a super-cut on Youtube of all the times Mariah Carey talks about “moments” while hawking her wares on HSN.. Among others, she speaks about “a retro moment of gypsy whatever”, “a fun, cute, remix moment”, “a fragrant moment”, “a full-on evening moment” and “the bandana moment…whatevs”. One of Mariah’s “moments” stands out above the others: the “festive” moment. Since she released her Merry Christmas album in 1994, Mariah has been wearing her love of “festivating” proudly on the sleeves of her seemingly endless array of skin-tight, red-and14
white Santa costumes. Over the past five years, the “festive” moment has become less a moment and more a tradition. Mariah’s second Christmas album – Merry Christmas II You – came out in 2010, and 2016 marked the third year that Mariah hosted her “All I Want for Christmas Is You” concert series at New York City’s Beacon Theater. The AIWFCIY concert series feels like icing on the cake of Mariah’s 25-year career. To produce this extra layer of sweet, silly goodness, she offers up four shimmering outfits, dancing children in party dresses, an extra festive
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version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and a handful of diva moments. For example, at one point on stage, she uses a tissue to dry her eyes and coyly suggests to the assembled crowd that someone might think to bring her a more delicate handkerchief in the future. The justification: “a tissue is just not chic enough for this occasion.” Mariah plays the diva regularly. In her new reality series Mariah’s World, for example, she gives her video testimonials while wearing a bejeweled, corseted leotard and lounging on a spread of small sofas in her palatial home. At another point in the series, with a laugh and a shrug, she tells the camera that she has a clause in her contracts that states she cannot be shot in fluorescent lighting without her sunglasses…Christie Brinkley taught her that trick. The 2009 video for her hit single “Obsessed” is a seminal diva text in Mariah’s oeuvre. She appears in the video not as Mariah Carey, but rather as “Mariah Carey: the diva”. In the opening scene she steps out of her Rolls Royce and waves to fans before going into New York’s Plaza Hotel. In another scene she is propped on a chaise lounge in a dress made from silk and chains.
Posing for famed photographer Patrick Demarchelier, she twists into a series of seductive poses for his camera’s lens. The photographer’s assistant, crouched at her feet, uses a hair dryer to provide the sense of movement that is crucial to any diva’s hair. The song’s title and lyrics refer to a feud Mariah had with another pop star, but in the video’s narrative the “obsessed” character is an unknown man. He follows “Mariah: the diva” as she walks down the street and dances around in a room covered in her pictures. He does not loom only from a distance, however. In fact, it is he who plays the photographer’s assistant, holding the tiny hair dryer on the Demarchelier shoot. During these scenes he gazes at “Mariah: the diva” longingly, obsessively.
“The photographer’s assistant, crouched at her feet, uses a hair dryer to provide the sense of movement that is crucial to any diva’s hair.” Crucially, it is Mariah who plays this shady character. To do so, the pop star sheds her diamonds and décolletage-baring dresses and in their place dons a hoodie and a fake goatee. Similarly, she adopts a swagger to walk down the street, thus foregoing her usual 6-inch heel shimmy. What becomes clear is that “Obsessed”, to borrow from gender theorist Judith Butler’s formulation of drag, does not show a real life diva dressing up as a dowdy man. 15
Rather, “Obsessed” reveals that all of Mariah’s performances are just that: performances . She plays the role of “shady man”, and she also plays the role of “diva”. In her book Guilty Pleasures film scholar Pamela Robertson makes a claim for considering camp as a feminist strategy. She explains, “the very outrageousness and flamboyance of camp’s preferred representations would be its most powerful tools for a critique […] of gender and sex roles” . In this sense, the “outrageousness and flamboyance” of Mariah’s “diva” character might best be understood as a political strategy, as a form of gender critique and, more specifically, a reflection and criticism of the restrictive boxes into which female pop stars are coerced. Mariah fans – or “lambs”, as she likes to call them – have at least a basic outline of the abusive relationship that cast a shadow over her early career. She speaks in Mariah’s World about these early experiences: how she felt like she was trapped in a tower, like Rapunzel. All the while, of course, she was singing about dreamlovers, heroes and fantasies. Eventually, she was able to extricate herself from that relationship and its professional and personal implications, although, as she notes on her 2008 E=MC² album, she is still dealing with its “side effects”. Crucially, it was not by the hand of a dreamlover or hero that Mariah was able to escape 16
that hell, but rather by her own hand – or, in Mariah’s terminology, by her own butterfly wings. Here, we might think of Mariah’s diva character as a feminist strategy. Her “too-much-sparkle-anddécolletage” burst through the structures that contained her as a young woman. The oversized shades and 6-inch heels that she refuses to take off are her butterfly wings, carrying her through her HSN moments, her AIWFCIY festivating, the “Obsessed” video, and her Mariah’s World reality series. All these diva moments add up, and what they add up to is an exercise in feminine excess as a response to the delimiting structures that shape women’s agency and subjectivity within pop music. Mariah reminds us that pop is a battleground, and she invites her listeners to fight – and festivate – by her side.
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SEAMSTRESS LUXE Camila Abisambra For hundreds of years, gender politics have been dictating the kinds of jobs women can do and those that are reserved for men. Perhaps it is not as noticeable in modern times as it was in the days gone by, but females have been expected to perform the tasks that fall into the home life sphere without economic retribution. This is not to say that men didn’t have to fight for their own rights as workers; yet the issue at hand is that women have had an even harder time legitimizing their work as worthy to belong in a capitalist system. This has also been the case in fashion both in terms of production and consumption. With my research, I wish to examine how the production of fashion has become a feminized labor and how it has been historically disregarded, particularly in the realm of haute couture. Through the lens of Karl Marx and Peter Stallybrass, I hope to prove that the feminized labor of sewing and stitching has been historically denigrated and its workers –largely female- have suffered from the obfuscation of their labor. Through the documentary
Dior and I, mainly focusing on haute couture and, before the term was coined, the fashion worn by royalty and high society, this research will explore how the luxury market has erased its workers to create a myth around its productions, or in Marxist terms, has fetishized the commodity of haute couture and erased the hard labor that goes into creating each piece which must be completely hand-sewn. Thus, I hope to create a historical argument for the struggle of women who, in Dior and I, are brought to center and find some agency at last. Marxism and commodity fetish Marx’s theory revolves around the two key concepts of labor and commodity fetish. In Marxist theory the labor of the worker is erased from the final product, which is then fetishized . In fact, according to Stallybrass in “Marx’s Coat,” the least human touch an object has, the better, as this makes the market value of the object increase. Accordingly, second-hand belongings are greatly devalued because of their respective interaction with humans. The importance of an object is its ability to create market value beyond its physicality. As he puts it, “for Europeans entrepreneurs did not, at least after the early trading staged, fetishize objects; on the contrary, they were interested in objects only to the extent that they could be transformed into commodities and exchanged for profit in the market,” .
In this way, we can see that the West has become obsessed with the value within the market of a certain good and divorced the interaction with the laborers, since they do not add to the value of the object. For example, if a dress of equal craftsmanship is made by a brand like Dior and by a small designer, their respective value will be radically different. As Dior boasts a branding within the luxury world, the object is more costly despite its physical similarities to the other dress. In this way, luxury goods are divorced from the physical object, as what gives them an edge above the market is their history and branding, which adds market value to the goods produced. This is not to say that these goods are not of high quality; part of the premise of their branding is the quality of the materials used, which has created trust in the customer since the inception of the brand in the late 1940s. The other aspect to which Marx references is the divorce between the object produced and the person who produced it. Human touch spoils the market value of a thing, as Stallybrass establishes, “What was demonized in the concept of the fetish was the possibility that history, memory, and desire might be materialized in objects that are touched and loved and worn,” . So, if an object cannot be touched, or loved, or worn for it loses market value, the actual making process is, too, demon18
ized, as it involves a close proximity between subject and object that is unacceptable to capitalism. As Marx states in Capital, “the labor of the individual asserts itself as a part of the labor of society, only by means of the relations, which the act of exchange established directly between the products, and indirectly, through them, between the producers. To the latter, therefore, the relations connecting the labor of one individual with that of the rest appear, not as direct social relations between individuals at work, but as what they really are, material relations between persons and social relations between things,” . Therefore, we can see that in Marxist theory, workers are treated as material relations, and objects acquire social relations, as they are the ones with a market value. The labor is, therefore, only valuable in terms of the creation of an object, which has market value, and then it is obfuscated as the attachment to the object decreases the market value. It is in this context that I will analyze the role of female seamstresses, or couturiers, from the reign of Marie Antoinette until the documentary Dior and I, which traces the making of Raf Simons first haute couture collection for the brand. Dior and I and the agency of les premieres It is in this context that I will study how perceptions of femininity and the feminine trade of needlework
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have evolved based on the documentary Dior and I. This documentary, being made in-house at Dior, follows the journey of the then newly-appointed creative director, Raf Simons. The documentary follows the creation of the haute couture collection for 2012. The film highlights the ateliers and the women who work there and sheds light on the daily life for the luxury brands’ operations. This documentary, although perhaps not a completely accurate depiction of what actually happens in Dior – as we must understand the curation behind it and the fact that it is an in-house made production–does shed some interesting data on the place held by women in the ateliers and for Dior in general. Before Raf Simons entered as creative director of Dior, John Galliano and Bill Gaytten had occupied the position. Gaytten only lasted a year, and Galliano was fired for making anti-Semitic remarks that were released to the press. Dior and I plays a lot with the idea of heritage, and that the brand and the makers of the brand far outlive creative directors. In the middle of the film, the camera goes to the atelier, where the couturiers are working and are interviewed. One of the women tells the camera how she has been in the house for
thirty-nine years. She then goes on to explain that, it was always her wish to work for Dior, even though she knew nothing about him. She explains that, it was the name and the history of the brand. Then, the camera cuts to another of the couturiers, who says: I always thought that the designer may change at Dior, but one thing never changes: the atelier. All the treasures of this house, all of its roots remain in the atelier. Some seamstresses have worked here for over forty years. We exchange, we communicate, that’s where the richness is . Even more interestingly, after the interview with the couturier about the years worked in the house, another of the women who has worked at the atelier for twenty-two years said, “the first draft comes from me. I draw the lines. If Raf Simons decides to change it, it becomes his interpretation,”. These moments help both to preserve the legacy of Dior past the creative directors, and give an enormous amount of power and legitimacy to the workers at the atelier. They are not pawns ,mind-reading the brilliant mind of Simons, but experienced garment workers are capable of by getting a brief and interpreting it in pure Dior fashion. The importance of this large group of, mostly, women is not lost on Raf Simons, or his right hand Pietr. In the first twenty minutes of the film, Pietr is being interviewed on camera, and he says: For me, these two women (the pre mieres) are the most important people in the whole company, because they have everything in their hands. I don’t 19
like when people call them workers, because they are not workers at all. They are, for me, businesswomen. Really. Because they manage insanely large teams and extremely large collections . This set the context in which we are to understand the atelier. These are not working class women; he is elevating their work from the traditional sphere that it has been embedded it into a higher-class work that deserves recognition. This elevates the work performed by the atelier. They are not being treated the way the atelier of Chanel was treated in the 1930s. There is a level of respect and agency given to these women as the documentary begins, which sets up the tone for their presence within the theme. These are not working class women; they are more than that. That is what Dior wants you to take away. In fact, the documentary even shows a conflict of interest between the creative director, Simons, and one of the premieres, Florence. The situation arises, because Florence was sent to New York to fix a garment for a couture client. The flight back to Paris was delayed, so Florence was not on time for a meeting with Simons about the new couture collection that they were working on. This upsets Simons, who wants the premieres to put his work first. It is, then, made clear to Simons that, if a client wishes to have a meeting 20
with the premiere, they will be made available to the customer. As the head of sales explains: Florence went to New York for a client who was unhappy with the outfit, well, she wanted to check an outfit that she was going to wear. I didn’t hesitate a second. I sent the premiere and a sales person… Haute couture needs to earn money otherwise we can’t afford such collections and maintain such ateliers. It happens to be profitable when a woman orders 350,000 euros each season, I won’t say ‘No’ if she requests a fitting. You can’t have it all . It was clear, at this point, that Simons would not be the priority for the house, and that his time and his creative vision would have to wait, giving precedent to the clients, the atelier, and the work the ateliers do. Finally, it is interesting to note that, even though the documentary does such an extensive job of positioning the ateliers as the cornerstone of Dior, and giving these women agency and support to fulfill their obligations and continue on the legacy of the house, on the day of the show, it is Raf Simons who takes the bow and gets emotional about the end result. He is the ‘creative genius,’ who thought up the collection, despite the fact that it was the atelier, who finished the garments and made the show possible. The documentary both legitimizes their work, as they are invited to the show and can
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watch from backstage, and ultimately puts them back in their place in the hierarchy, when Simons is the one who takes the bow. This plays into the beliefs the fashion system has, in which, it is the creative genius who is the architect of the work, and not the couturiers who labored so intensely down to the last minutes before the show begins. In Marxist terms, it becomes intriguing how much the documentary gives not just agency but visibility to the work of the ateliers. Half of the footage of the documentary is the manipulation of cloth to create garments. The human touch of these women and men is displayed in every turn, which brings back the value to their work. Rather than fetishizing the commodity of couture and proclaiming it another victory for the creative genius, Raf Simons, who has barely ever manipulated the garments and had people doing it for him, the documentary brings back the actual creator of the garment to the forefront, and shows how much work is put into a couture gown. In this way, Dior and I manages to visibilize the feminized labor, and truly evidence the hardships of the work. It is also very interesting that, the final words spoken by a premiere in the film are, â€œfor a
first time, couture is beautiful, isnâ€™t it?â€? . These final words firmly position her as the connoisseur in the world of couture, and Simons and Pietr as inexperienced. They are merely dabbling in couture for the first time, whereas she has been doing it for years. She is the expert, and the creative directors will never match up to her knowledge. It is patronizing even, to position them back to their status as inexperienced. As a final thought on the creation of couture and luxury fashion, it is important to note that, with each passing day, fashion schools are removing the requirements to have technical knowledge and sewing skills. Places, like Parsons and Central Saint Martins, have removed this requirement, as they want their students to concentrate on the creative process and not on the technicalities of fashion. As a traditionally feminized labor, Angela McRobbie has recognized this attitude as a rejection of feminized labor . It is not surprising, then, that the breakout stars of such programs are not women who still deal with the stigma of being seamstresses, but the men who can be lauded creative geniuses. Central Saint Martins has produced Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Hussein Chalayan; all designers whose creative endeavors lead to fashion being regarded as art. Saint Martins also produced Stella McCartney, who is well known for her ap proach to craftsmanship with sustainability; a more traditionally feminized approach. On the other hand, the stand-out Parsons graduates are Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, and Donna Karan. Ford and Jacobs are known for 21
their approach to fashion as art and their discussions with sexuality, and Donna Karan is known for her fit and craftsmanship and not so much for being an artistic, or a ground-breaking designer. Ultimately, whether they teach the feminized labor of sewing or not, it seems men and women end up playing into the gendered division of fashion labor. The division of gendered labor has had good and bad consequences for women in history. It did relegate women to a particular realm of work that is constantly and consistently disparaged to this day. As evidenced by the strikes, in which women were not taken seriously for taking advantage of their femininity to get rights, the fashion work is not respected. Seamstressâ€™ struggles 22
are not considered working-class struggles, even though that is what it is. Femininity and activism are not compatible in a patriarchal society, and so women have had to face different indignities. This goes into play into the obfuscation of their labor. Women produce fashion, and they are constantly put down and separated from the commodity they produce, which every single person in the world consumes in one way or another. However, it also helped create labor opportunities for women that helped them prosper since the Old Regime in France. The guilds helped them create spaces, where they manage themselves and their own work. It was in this context that, women like Rose Bertin managed to prosper despite their social circumstances.
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The guilds in France helped women secure a labor position that they would continue to occupy even to this day. It has, also, created spaces in which they could prosper. Even though McCartneyâ€™s contribution to the modern fashion system is in manufacture, no one can deny the importance of creating alternatives to luxury fashion. It is also important to note that, no matter the level of criticism women faced in their activist endeavors, they always managed to be successful and earn the rights they were fighting for. Dior and I also does a great job of presenting a modern way to view the women who work in luxury fashion. They are positioned as businesswomen, instead of working-class; they are experienced where the creative director is new to the couture business. It is also interesting that the approach of the documentary is to present the couture collection as the work of the atelier with contributions by Simons. The women create the garments, which are then altered by Simons; which is an interpretation of their work. The women are given agency and power within the fashion house, and are tasked with the responsibility of continuing the legacy of Dior, as opposed to the cre-
ative director who comes and goes. This power, however, is not new. From the time of the guilds, women have found an empowering space in the feminization of their fashion labor, which they have used to their advantage. In the Old Regime, they created the most successful fashion guild; in the early 20th century, they gained more worker rights for themselves; and today, they are positioned as the torch-bearers for a luxury houseâ€™s legacy. Their work is, also, elevated from mere technical skill to truly encompass what it means to create fashion. The sexualization of labor, whatever negative connotations it might bring, gave them an opportunity and the tools to create a space for themselves. In this way, they managed to reclaim the labor that was obfuscated, to proclaim it as theirs, in virtue of their gender.
Fashion Mahila, dress with peach bra and striped patiala salwar illustration by Arti Sandhu
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FASHION MAHILA Arti Sandhu While some see fashion as being about celebrating the body, through its emphasis on ideal beauty, and in doing so, setting unattainable, non-diverse, beauty ideals, the celebration can quickly turn sour for those who fail to fit within these set boundaries. Even as the Western fashion industry attempts to overcome past transgressions—by taking on a more diverse and inclusive approach towards size, race, and age related issues as seen in various visual and promotional materials—many of these initiatives fail to go beyond the surface to impact key frameworks and processes that continue to inform how fashion products are designed and prototyped. Here I am particularly interested in the genre of fashion illustration, both as an art form as well as a vital part of the design process, that is taught in fashion schools as a tool for expressing and articulating design ideas. In recent years, fashion illustration has become a popular art form on social media platforms, like Instagram, where emerging and established illustrators post artworks that replicate high fashion designer catwalk looks in unique and individual styles. The majority of these illustrations continue to privilege a narrow scope of body and beauty ideals. Through the Fashion Mahlia series—that presents the same high fashion designer looks on voluptuous Indian folk-art inspired models—my aim is to critique the now globalized fashion system that celebrates certain sizes and bodies and excludes the rest. Fashion Mahila reimagines the fashion croqui and proves that it is possible to celebrate fashion on all sizes and types of bodies.
Mahila means woman in Hindi. 25
CELEBRATING ILLNESS THROUGH DESIGN Julie Mahdavi Julie Mahdavi has been researching fashion and disabilities with a close look at prosthetics for her Master thesis in Fashion Studies. She converses with her friend, Ayida Solé, a rising Junior designer at Parsons in New York City battling sickle cell disease and her process of jubilating her illness through her designs. She incorporates her blood cell slides and X-rays as patterns for her collection.
Ayida Solé blood cells, seen through a microscope, used on her designs.
Ayida Solé X-rays used on her designs
So tell me a little bit about yourself. So I am a young girl from Cambridge, trying to make it big * laughter* From the bean. From the beannn trying to make it big. I have a lot of ideas on how I can enhance the world and I am just trying to figure out the best way to 26
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put it out. I go to Parsons, transferred from Syracuse. I needed a more supportive environment, so I transferred here. When did you start designing? I declared I wanted to be a designer at my second grade birthday party, so I was 7. At 7? That’s so young. Yeah seven years old. My mom had a little fashion show birthday party for me. She bought fabric and flipped over the bookcase for it to be our runway in the living room. And then, all my friends came. I.gave them all this fabric, and they had to wrap it around themselves to make clothes, and then, we just all had to walk down the runway. That’s when I knew. That year I got a sewing machine for Christmas, and I’ve been sewing ever since. Did you learn by yourself or did somebody teach you? My mom taught me how to thread the machine, but I just practiced and just learned how to sew. So tell me about sickle cell anemia, because a lot of people don’t know enough about it. Pretty much sickle cell anemia, you are born with it. It’s genetic. So, if both your parents have the trait, you know you will most likely be a carrier. There are two forms: there is SC and SS. SS is the full blown disease, but SC is the other half. where. technically, you are not supposed to get as sick as someone with SS. But I have SC and still get very sick. Cells are circular, and those with sickle cell have sickle shaped cells. So, it is like a boomerang shaped cell. Your bone marrow and cells arent capable of making normal shaped blood cells. So, the majority of my cells are sickle shaped. When I get a cold, or don’t get enough oxygen, my blood cells will clog up in a joint, any joint in my body, and it’s a really tight crapping feeling. but it’s very violent, almost like a puncturing feeling. You never really know, but the main way I go about it, is eating well, staying warm and taking care of my body. So the main trick is to not get sick? Exactly. I live my life preventing myself from getting sick. 27
Not a bad thing, forces you to stay healthy. Yeah. Definitely. So how do you cope with it when it comes to studying in NYC in your everyday life besides staying bundled up? In New York, I definitely need to stay mentally healthy, because once I get stressed. my body follows and wants to react. So, if I am too tired, my school doesn’t come first; my health does. I try to channel my mind into what is important, because I think a lot of it is mental. If I don’t feel good in my head, I don’t feel good anywhere else, and my body will deteriorate. But I prioritize rest so much. Does it inspire your designs? It does! I want to do a full blown collection with full funding on prints and full funding on embellishments, etc. I don’t know if I want to put it in my design philosophy, but I do want to raise awarness for it, like it is a part of my philosophy. I just don’t know if I will put it in every collection I ever create. But I do want my big bang collection to be that, because I feel that there isn’t enough awareness being done on it, and because there is so much research that could be done to find a cure, and there is none yet. But again the numbers of those who are impacted are low so it becomes less of a priority, right? Absolutely and on top of that it affects people of African descent, which is also not a priority for a lot of medical companies. And why find a cure when they can have you in the hospital paying high bills? Yes, exactly. And if it was cancer, heart disease, or lyme disease, there would be more research done on it. So that is why I want to raise more awareness; so we can get more research done to find a cure, since right now the only cure is bone marrow transplant, and there are so many complications with that. You can die from getting a transplant, and I am too old to qualify for that option. It would completely change the lifestyle I am living now.
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Do you see other designers using their illness as inspiration? Honestly, I haven’t. That is why I have been thinking this is going to make me different. Really? Not even at Parsons, a school that is number one in the country? No. I see people using their sexuality, drugs and stuff, but I haven’t come across someone who has had as many medical complications as I do, and I feel like that sets me apart. But I don’t want to use that as my inspiration all the time, because I don’t want my designs to be watered down, or I don’t want to get tired of it before I actually get into my career. That is why I want to do it for my senior collection. Most musicians or writers are inspired by their darkest times, do you think this is the case for you? Well, definitely in this case. When I got sick last year, I used that as inspiration to apply to Parsons. It definitely inspired me. And now I am going through heartbreak. so maybe I will use that as inspiration. Hey, could be the collection. Yes and it is funny because learning how people find inspiration I think I need to go through something to fully get inspired. But I am also realizing you can do research to get inspired, and you can use anything around you. Do you think the story behind your designs will bring awareness to the cause, or do you think it will be lost in translation, since your prints are aesthetically? I think that, when I come around the second time, more heavy hitter, it will definitely be more in your face. I am going to find ways to raise awareness for it, and I want people to scroll down on my website, because, if you don’t scroll down on my website, you don’t read my story! What are you doing in order to change the idea that illnesses are targeting weaker individuals? Well, I think just being an example. I haven’t done much to prove that yet through my designs, but just in my classes. Being an example to 29
my classmates and show them that, even though I miss classes and am sick, I pull through. So, I think that’s a way to show people you are not weak. How do people react to your designs versus the story behind it? I mean I think that people are like wow when they see my designs, but when they find out the story, they are really like wow and realize it is even cooler you know. It makes it more than just something pretty to look at. I think it, being an afterthought, too, is most important to me. I want people to love the elegance first, then the story. How do you celebrate sickle cell anemia? Well, I bring it up a lot. I talk about it and make it a point of conversation. I toast, I toast to it. I eat. Get with my closest friends and family. Let people celebrate what I am celebrating. Do you consider your designs a celebration of your illness? Most definitely. I think, when I was younger, I was more embarrassed and sad that I wasn’t like everybody else. But now, I embrace it and I am happy. I am not like everybody else, because it makes my story that much more interesting, and gives me more depth as a human, as an individual. I feel like without it, I would be so boring, or like, it wouldn’t have made me who I am, or made me more diligent, or make me want to prove that I am just as good or anything like that to other people. Or just proving to myself that I am just as good as people who are “normal.” How do you think you would be designing if you didn’t have sickle cell? I don’t know. I think once I started getting more sick, I used it as a motif for everything. So I feel, like, it would be a lot more bland; it wouldn’t have as much substance. You have to have substance in design. Boring design, or design that doesn’t have meaning, just takes up space and ends up being more waste. It is important to raise awareness for things, so if I don’t have anything to raise awareness for at the moment, I don’t think I should create something. So, you sent me the pictures of your blood slides you have used, 30
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but is it just prints you are going to experiment with, or fabrics as well? Oh, definitely different fabrics, because I want to show the different ways it can be incorporated, and in the end I would love to sell my textiles to someone else. People buying the print will raise awareness and the money can go to sickle cell foundations. Not all fabrics need to be made from flowers, but [they] can be made from not so glamorous things as well. How are you morphing sickle cell to be celebrated through design? Well, just through creating the textiles, I create. I haven’t necessarily done it with silhouette yet; more towards textiles, so people can see what it is on the textile. Where do you see this going when it comes to fashion and illness merging? I think it is so crucial! I see it coming together so much more. I think it is so important. I hope it’s not because of all my research with fashion and disabilities I’ve been sharing with you. Let’s hope it is! Because then, sickle cell will get more attention as well. But there is so much happening with technology, and what it can do to enhance the everyday body. This is an opportunity to show people there are illnesses people are dealing with, that may not be affecting the vast majority; but there is a lot of people that deal with it and if just a little bit of research can be done, there can be a cure. Fashion often is used to speak on current issues, and it is a great opportunity to create a current issue and to create awareness.
EMBROIDERED IDENTITY: A PALESTINIAN STORY OF MEMORY AND SPACE Mohammad M. Hamad The only personal memory that I have of tatreez, or embroidery, is through the life of my mother, Kifaya, or “satisfaction” in Arabic. She’s a Palestinian refugee that has lived in the United States for over 30 years, negotiating and renegotiating her identities. Growing up, she often talked about the curse of el ghirbeh, or life in the diaspora, and how much she mourned to return to our motherland. Only recently have I began to challenge her to unpack and heal from the trauma of life under direct Israeli military occupation: memories of fear, struggle and responsibility that remain nestled in her psyche. My mother was only 11 years old when Golda Meir served as the Prime Minister of Israel, but a few words from a famous speech she delivered never escaped my mother’s memory: “Palestinians do not exist.” The
tatreez on my mother’s traditional garments tells another story. My mother often used the phrase el ghirbeh when she was frustrated with my father or felt defeated by the demanding influence that American society had on her parenting style and expectations of me and my siblings. Assimilation, particularly in today’s political climate, is often perceived as one directional: for refugees and immigrants, there is this sense of identity negotiation and the tension between forgiving one’s past and embracing the future. However, this process can be perceived by Americans as a reluctance or resistance to assimilate to the dominant culture. However, the process is in fact bidirectional: assimilation is inevitable and the portion of identity that is not negotiated is almost always contributed to preserving the complexity of a dynamic and often urban landscape. For my mother, though, Palestinian tatreez is what frames her sense of belongingness to both, a rich Palestinian heritage at home and the Palestinian community here, in the United States. Palestinian tatreez has played a role in shaping the meaning of womanhood for centuries: a symbol that penetrates through and defies socially manufactured bor-
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ders and apartheid walls. It was when my mother reached the age of 40 that she realized she was here to stay. In some sense, her hopes of returning to Palestine grew more and more distant over the years and assimilation to American society contributed to this reality – a relationship that she continues to grapple with. However, her desire to maintain her Palestinian roots and identity subsequently grew stronger. A part of this process involved me and my siblings connecting with our roots abroad and getting to know our extended family. It was these trips that opened my eyes to the thick politics of Palestinian tatreez and the restlessness of culture. One of the priority items on my mother’s itinerary upon our landing into Palestine was to get embroidered garments for traditional ceremonies such as bridal engagements and weddings, as depicted on the right. Since these traditional garments are custom-made, it could take seamstresses as long as a month to produce a full piece. The summer is an especially busy season for Palestinian seamstresses because it is a typical destination for those living in the diaspora to spend their summer vacations. For my mother, this was a moment that she had been waiting decades to ex-
perience because of the rich meaning of Palestinian tatreez that she felt detached from and stripped of, living in el ghirbeh. Although, it was not simply the distance that prolonged my mother’s quest to fulfill her sense of womanhood; the economic circumstances of my family certainly restricted our ability to visit Palestine as often as my parents would have liked and as a result, my mother’s sense of belonging was put on hold. This particular visit symbolized a moment in my mother’s path to reclaiming her identity. In some sense, the garments she was having custom-made represented not only womanhood, but an opportunity to relive and reawaken her roots. This was a moment that brought meaning to her identity, wherever she decides to wear these garments. However, there remains an additional economic dimension that complicates this question of access to Palestinian identity: stereotypes of life in the west. My mother often joked about the stereotype in Palestine that life in the west, particularly in the United States, is easy: “They genuinely think that Americans pick money off of trees branches.” I am sure that life under military occupation only intensifies these preconceived notions. During our trip in Palestine, we visited my maternal grandmother upon visiting the seamstress, who had taken my mother’s measurements and a payment on two custom-made embroidered garments. I remember my grandmother asking my mother a series of questions: “Which seamstress did you go to? Did you tell her you’re visiting from America? I hope not. They charge more once they know you’re visiting. 33
Did you tell her that you’re my daughter?” This experience reinforced many of the sentiments that my mother continues to be in tension with: on the one hand, my grandmother’s questions exemplify the tightly-knit nature of the villages in Palestine. In fact, every Palestinian village has a unique embroidery pattern that women use on garments to distinguish them from the other villages: in some sense, this creates a market through culture and the rivalry between the villages reinforces the deeper identities and meanings that exist within Palestinian society. On the other hand, my grandmother’s questions perpetuated the stigma of not belonging that my mother had felt for so long living abroad: she was perceived as an ‘other’ despite her undeniable roots and upbringing in Palestine, despite having experienced military occupation growing up, and because of the preconceived notions about the luxury and freedom that comes with life in the United States. What the future holds for Palestinian tatreez and what that means for Palestinians remains ambiguous as the market grows beyond our local villages. Darzah, for example, is a collection of fair trade Palestinian tatreez embroidered products by refugee and low-income women artists
in the West Bank with a twofold mission: both creating economic opportunities for women artisans and their communities and celebrating Palestinian cultural heritage. Meanwhile, Natalie Tahhan’s “Prints of Palestine” solo collection aims to redefine Palestinian tatreez into contemporary fashion prints with the designer’s own interpretation of the art. As Palestinian culture continues to navigate beyond borders, often further and with more fluidity than the Palestinian herself, we can only cherish the personal memories that shape the meaning of our identities and the ways that people embrace our culture. Today, tatreez continues to challenge what it means to be Palestinian and our personal struggles with identity, space and memory. More importantly, it shows that despite decades-long of U.S.-backed Israeli colonization and a quest to eliminate indigenous peoples, we are still here. Our culture will always be embroidered in the stories that we share and the clothes that we wear; it outlives us, but also those who deny our very existence.
“Our culture will always be embroidered in the stories that we share and the clothes that we wear; it outlives us, but also those who deny our very existence.”
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IN DEFENSE OF COUPLES’ WEAR Noelle Kichura Over the past twenty years we have witnessed the rapid rise of couples’ wear, an originally Korean youth movement in which romantic partners match or coordinate their clothing. What began as teenage twosomes sporting identical rugby t-shirts has grown into pajamas for newlyweds, blogs dedicated to matching fashions, and even entire collections of matching underwear just for couples. The conspicuous growth of couples’ wear and its persistence as a movement has elicited a wide range of reactions, particularly from non-participants and those outside Korea where the ‘look’ is much less likely to be admired or seen as ‘cute’ . These varied responses make clear that little is understood about couples’ wear practices in academia. Couples’ wear has perhaps drawn little attention from scholars because of its recent establishment and currently expanding state. The first academic paper on couples’ wear was published last year by lecturer Judy Park. Park leads the way in publishing the only journal
article dedicated specifically to Korean couples’ wear, yet takes a profoundly business-oriented approach that tends to ignore many points of discussion. Based on ten interviews, Park hastily concludes that partners who wear couples’ looks do so simply out of fear, jealousy, or entitlement while scarcely addressing questions of identity as the subtitle of her article would otherwise suggest. For Park, couples’ wear “is another ‘unofficial uniform’ in Korea that automatically imposes an identity of someone allegedly involved in a happy relationship, and some couples use this function to control their romantic partners” . I argue that couples’ wear is much more complex than an exercise of power or control and suggest that it can actually be a deeply intimate form of connection between two people that allows for the co-creation of identity in a way that other methods
“Couples’ wear is more than an exercise of power or control... it can be an intimate form of connection between two people that allows for the co-creation of identity.” of communication cannot provide. Despite Park’s publication being the only academic article devoted to couples’ wear, fashion studies as a field has dedicated space to the theories 35
that connect to its material practices. Academics including Joanne Entwistle, Judith Butler, and Elizabeth Wilson have extensively discussed identity articulation and performativity, which can be applicable when discussing couples’ wear and the habitual act of getting dressed with a partner. Yet even with a wealth of fashion scholarship devoted to theories of identity, performativity, and the corporeality of dress, there remains a missed opportunity for discussing their intersection through couples’ wear, particularly as the movement intertwines with ideas of culture, romantic intimacy, and attachment. In this article, I discuss how the act of getting dressed with a partner can profoundly impact the articulation of identity and act as a celebratory practice that expresses both selfhood and love between partners. It was during the 1990s when Korea experienced greater economic expansion that couples’ wear as we understand it today became popularized through the adoption of partners’ identical rugby shirts, evolving into more complex or coordinating styles in the early 2000s . Currently, celebrities known for dressing in couples’ wear such as Kwon Sang-woo and Lee Seung-youn, retail displays highlighting couples’ wear, and even articles suggesting different couples’ wear looks for Valentine’s Day, are demonstrative of how the phenomenon of couples’ wear is gaining significance in contemporary cul36
tures. But why is this often seen by many as a controversial act? More so, why is it considered to be offensive or even repulsive? The ritual of dressing with a partner provides a starting point for understanding couples’ wear practices and the reactions they elicit. The physical process the body goes through when getting dressed and wearing clothing, such as touching fabric, feeling the garment shape, graze, and alter the body, are intimate and material experiences. As Entwistle describes, “it is through our bodies that we come to see and be seen in the world. . . and our selfhood comes from this location in our body and our experience of this” . Our bodies are not simply instruments, but rather physical vehicles for understanding, modifying, and experiencing one’s identity. Her theory is echoed by Merleau-Ponty’s work, which “demonstrates how the
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body is not merely a textual identity produced by discursive practices but is the active and perceptive vehicle of being” . Our bodies are actively integral to the creation and expression of the self. Consequently, the corporeal nature of dressing is deeply important to consider when analyzing the articulation and expression of identities, particularly shared identities. The intimate awareness of self and body that occurs when dressing is taken outside the personal sphere and shared between two partners during couples’ wear. Dressing, becoming alert of one’s body, is no longer a confidential arena for self-identification but now grounds for discussion, connection, co-creation and physical naked awareness between partners. When two people agree to share the fleshiness and the materials of daily dress, they create a unified self through which to experience life. It is a physical manifestation of the idea that “individuals’ traits and dispositions are not only maintained and validated within personal relationships; they are created there as well” . This idea may lie at the core of why many are repelled by couples’ wear; we fear losing, changing, or replacing our individual identities in the context of an intimate relationship.
Yet the co-creation of identities between partners does not necessitate the loss of selfhood for the individuals involved. Rather, this ultimate form of connection can strengthen each participant’s sense of self as each partner advocates for what items they want to wear that day, expressing personal opinions and sharing them in a way that lets both individuals participate equally and creatively in the creation of a shared identity to present to the world. The result, two people who are seen as and dress as a unit, can have benefits worth celebrating. Matching uniforms, for example, have been shown to increase team identification and strengthen social ties among members . Other groups have done the same, with Simmel citing elite dressers as an example in that “they share an identity because they are separating themselves from everyone else” . Members of subcultures have a similar experience, as Hodkinson points out that “[a]s important as a sense of affiliation with perceived insiders, here, are feelings of distinction from those regarded as outsiders” . While these examples come from outside couples’ wear, they help us to understand how couples’ wear practices are used to distinguish and identify a couple as a unit. We can then imagine how dressing in identical clothing may strengthen the bond of romantic partners. One interviewee stated that part of his interest in matching his partner was to strengthen and confirm his partner’s romantic feelings for him . Other participants echoed this desire, stating that couples’ wear is a way to grow closer and make new mem37
ories with each other . This deep desire to feel loved and to feel a sense of belonging and togetherness is one of the most basic human emotional needs, so why should something that allows for or encourages that be vilified to such a great extent?
of a shared private culture within romantic relationships is necessary in that it “validates one’s social identities and worldviews”, and it is “what makes our significant others significant” . Couples’ wear participants achieve this through dressing alike.
As Park points out, couples’ wear seems to have fulfilled these basic desires because “wearing the looks gave [interviewees] a sense of belonging, and the feeling of belonging to a relationship was not negative or suffocating in any way, but rather comforting” . Couples’ dress brought these partners closer, confirming their unity. They are affiliated with one another and create an intimate community that provides a counterpoint to the rest of society. Blumstein and Kollock describe how the construction
While couples’ wear practices are not for everyone, those who are willing to participate in it may experience a type of close connection that only dressing together can bring. Disclosing who you want to be that day and how the body feels in clothing’s textures and shapes brings the ritual of moulding identity from a private to mutual affair and may be one of the most personal experiences to share with someone, reinforcing feelings of belonging, togetherness, and love. That possibility for profound human connection is surely something to celebrate.
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FASHION STEREOTYPES Matthew Cook
With the controversial concept of this collection & photoshoot, I wanted to over-exaggerate stereotypes which are subject to the most ridicule in the different cultures of the fashion industry. I chose to show people how ridiculous it is to put people in a box and judge them without getting to know them. Subconsciously, we all judge, but the point of this project is to show that all of these stereotypes can exist in our society. I want the general public to view others with more compassion and understanding. No matter how extreme an artistâ€™s work is, they deserve respect to let their creativity be expressed in their own way. The overall concept also serves as a social experiment to see the publicâ€™s reactions. However, I did not include the backlash because the mixed views took attention away from emphasizing the multiple stereotypes. Additionally, I use some of the same elements in all of the photographs to show how all people are ultimately the same and equal such as wigs, fishnets, heels, and a body suit. I specifically did this to demonstrate how we are all connected with one another and how we should support each other.
Trash glam 39
“No matter how extreme an artist’s work is, they deserve respect to let their creativity be expressed in their own way.”
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Black dress studio
LETâ€™S HAVE A BLACK CELEBRATION: THE OCCULT YOGA OF HEALTH GOTH Otto von Busch
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What is it about the return of harnesses and chokers in correlation with the 2014 move from “athleisure” to the black, tattooed and moody “health goth” trend? Is it some form of nihilist answer to the dark times, or is there something more sinister at play, something which may reveal fashion under a new (dark) light? Not only does the trend coincide with heathen, esoteric and sometimes skulls and satanic imagery, but popular brands use geometric runes as logos, revealing the deep occulture of fashion itself. The dark and introverted sportlook of the health goth also intersects with the popular “post-fetish” styles of harnesses and O-ring chokers from New Yorkbased designer Zana Bayne, who in turn equips celebrities as well as the lesser gentry to realize the passions of E.L. James’ stunningly popular book series 50 Shades of Grey . And indeed, is not that narrative of glamorous BDSM, which started as an occult fan-fiction from the vampires versus werewolves saga Twilight, a glimpse into the darker metamorphosis of fashion: aesthetic domination based where there is no real pleasure or gain without pain. The name of the yoga occultist dressed in black distressed athleisure as “health goth” emerged on a Facebook page started by Portland musician Mike Grabarek . With its elements of occulture and dark futurism, the look of metalpunk-meets-Pilates, follows the
earlier hype of dark sportiness by Rick Owens an Alexander Wang. Indeed, Wang’s collection with H&M made liquid yoga pants, leather joggers and black scuba-style crop tops hit main street, later followed by Wang’s 2016 dark nihilist work with Adidas, where the very “drop” itself was a dark inversion of advertising. However, like all trends, it would not happen without a confluence of forces, and there seems to be an interesting overlap with years of Williamsburg hipsters going into black metal yoga, taxidermy, and tattooing alchemic symbols and Norse runes on their skin. Indeed, the health goth speaks of power better than the merrily ignorant wearer of athleisure. If athleisure was casually looking-
“The magic sought by the health goth aims at a black celebration of the power residing within life unbound.” like-I-do-yoga, a health goth puts emphasis on the darker goals of reshaping and reconfiguration of the body: the “left-hand path.” Under this name scholars usually gather the forbidden and heretical practices of black magic, the traditions of tantric teachings and the Theosophy of H.P. Blavatsky, the transgressive forms of magick heralded by Aleister Crowley, and later in LaVeyan Satanism, all which oppose Man’s submis43
sion to the “natural” order of the world to instead seek individual freedom and power . Thus the health goth helps expose how fashion is intimately a matter of magic , but perhaps even more so the fluid shapeshifting between man and woman, human and beast, sin and virtue. The magic sought by the health goth aims at a black celebration of the power residing within life unbound. There is thus no coincidence the health goth seeks fulfilment in yoga, not only because if its esoteric history in East Asia, but also because like fashion, it is a deeply individualistic practice. It may be done in a group, but is not about seeking to celebrate the team effort, or submitting to a referee, but like magic, it seeks to transgress limitations and seek power towards liberation from collective restraints or the restrictions of the untrained body. Whereas public morality and religion, or what is sometimes called the “righthand path,” encourages values such as equality, mercy, and harmony with nature in order to reach some form of heaven or nirvana, the magic of the “left-hand path” seeks the empowerment of the individual human, and the freedom which comes with will, power and superiority, and ultimately, the rule over one’s 44
world, even at the cost of others. To many moralizing institutions, such ego-centered path is often considered “evil,” yet for the follower of the lefthand path, it is the very affirmation of life: to live without any boundaries. In the world of the yogi, and essential to the left-hand path, there is no team, only teacher and disciple, just like for the BDSM practitioner there is only master and slave . For the health goth there is only individual power, as in the use of social media the dark pleasures emerge from being famous and turning friends into “followers.” Like for the esoteric yogi, the essential element of fashion is an individualist struggle for perfection, but in the realm of fashion, this translates as the pursuit of popularity and pleasure. Yet, unlike many other individualist struggles, the gains in the endeavor of fashion need the submission of others: the attention and admiration of one’s followers and the desire of a seduced audience. Fashion is a quest of power over others, and in the popular image of fashion, this power comes from the perfection of magic, of control. The BDSM references also tie (no joke intended) the health goth towards the fetish, a common reference in the study of fashion. Indeed, the words fashion and fetish share the same Latin root; facticium and facere, which means “to do” or “to make” . Both fashion and the fetish are (hand) made, but they are also imbued with agency; they grant the wearer access to figuration, of both matter and spirit, and with this comes power. Like magic, the fetish transforms beyond the realm of representation
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or illusion; it controls behavior.
low the regimen of shapeshifting.
The health goth also exposes a central paradox in relation to the idea of a “democratic” fashion, such as Wang’s collection for H&M. It exposes that the yogi may be on an individualist path to seek power and popularity, but it also has collective implications. In its explicit celebration of the perfect alchemic body, it shares with the esotericism of fascism a völkisch element, that is, it is not the people (Volk) that selects its leaders, but the leaders who selects its people, through distinctions and hygienic measures, to preserve the exclusivity and health of the social body . The expensive brands are not accessible to all, nor are the lifestyles that supports their pursuit for perfection in body and soul, with its healthy food, expensive workouts and time enough to fol-
But even in our demonic times, the left-hand posing of the health goth may already be over; “according to some irate OG health goths, us mainstream narcs have already ruined it. Which probably means that — like joy, happiness, or your love of the Smiths when all the happy blonde girls started listening to them — this trend is deal” .Yet fashion’s intimate relation to the left-hand path will surely still be around. The common trait of all left-handpath practitioners is that they focus on their own selves as their first source of power and they seek to cultivate, develop, and enhance that separate and unique source as the surest path to happiness. That turning inward to the dark depths of one’s own self to find the light is as old as mankind 
FASHIONING THE FILM: TOM FORD AS MARKETEER, OR INTERDISCIPLINARY STORYTELLER? Charlotte Dwyer Researching fashion from a pop-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective is quite difficult. After all, for an academic discipline, Fashion Studies is quite young. As with any other discipline in the making, it measures itself through comparisons to other well-established fields. Sometimes, these comparisons are overly inventive and entertaining, such as the likening of Tom Ford’s signature pornchic, unbuttoned blouse to the Lucio Fontana painting Concetto Spaziale, Atessa . Here, famous fashion images are collapsed into the discourse of art. Other times, the desperate wish for the validation of Fashion Studies creates the idea that we cannot celebrate contemporary fashion at all. According to this perspective, work that emphasizes the celebration of fashion is relegated to the commodification of critical writing. This is a common position for fashion critics showing off expertise. The problem with this viewpoint is that it perpetuates the belief that we should all be objective outsiders and also that it becomes very difficult to speak about fashion when you keep celebrating fashion 46
culture. Furthermore, what this type of validation signifies is that fashion is still discussed outside the boundaries of contemporary fashion culture (whether in journalism or academia), in order to feign objectivity and legitimize fashion as a serious topic of interest. It also emphasizes that our ideas on fashion and celebrities are impoverished and reduced to monotony . For example, there is an interesting piece written by Pamela Church-Gibson on the aforementioned designer, where she analyses the cross-over between fashion and film through the work of ‘celebrity designer’ Tom Ford
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. This in itself is already a difficult ambition as there have not been many examples of this type of analysis and there is a risk that it might reduce fashion to spectacle: this is fashion as a vehicle for film. Unsurprisingly, her analysis of Ford’s first achievements as film director for A Single Man (2009) is extremely thorough, but unfortunately not very original in its stance that A Single Man was an “overly stylish film” that essentially functioned as a long commercial for the brand. Church-Gibson’s piece accuses the designer of “surfing on the wave of publicity that the film created,” which, according to her, directly rewarded the fashion house Tom Ford with increased sales of their luxury products. It neglects to point out his creative way of narrating the film through a fashion lens, but constantly reminds the audience of Ford’s status as an “enormously rich” celebrity designer . More problematic is Church-Gibson’s reading that Colin Firth’s “extraordinary performance somehow welds this film together” . This gives the impression that it was not Ford’s aesthetic eye as a director that contributed to the success of the film; Ford was simply able to cast a strong actor. This is an enormously negative perspective on Ford’s celebrity status which reduces his eye for fashion to nothing more than a marketing tool. Classically, the fashion scholar functions here as an objective outsider who raises
awareness of the reader’s own embeddedness in commodity culture, making the spectacle out to be a passive dupe as we fall for Ford’s extended commercial in the form of a “fashion film.” And although scholars like Church-Gibson make a fair point in stating that his work is commercial, this does not do his magnificent aesthetic imagery justice. The visual decisions made in this era of renewed relationship between fashion and film need closer scrutinization. By consistently placing ourselves outside of Fashion Culture, feigning objectivity, and continuing to apply these justifying practices to validate the field of Fashion Studies, fashion scholars continue to express ideas already known beforehand. We must recognize Ford’s ability to create a feeling through stylistic choices that add to the effective dimensions of the film. The prominence of objects in the film could thus not only be seen as commercial commodification, but also, and more importantly – somewhat like a Hitchcockian MacGuffin – as motifs that demonstrate the feelings of the film’s main character through expressing feelings that the character cannot express through dialogue alone. The flashbacks, excessive use of different color schemes, and cinematographic decisions all underline this perspective on the film – of a designer that is able to tell a story through fashion. The sexy designs and colorized memories emphasize the inner psyche of the protagonist. What remains is a new way 47
â€œWhat remains is a new way of representing something unrepresentable: Death.â€?
Concetto Spaziale, Atessa
of representing something unrepresentable: Death. Call it an unobjective celebration, but what Tom Ford does best is telling effective stories. Whether it is through material objects such as clothes, or cinematography, Ford knows how to use his eye for fashion to narrate his film. Therefore, if you (re-)watch Nocturnal Animals this year, I dare you to celebrate his particular style - as a story-teller extraordinaire.
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THE INFLUENCE OF COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY ON OUR LIVES Jamileh Nadelmann In this article, I will explore the influence of technology on our lives. Specifically, I am investigating the alienating effect of communication technology on human individuals. The chosen topic of communication technology, and smartphones specifically, is a very personal one. It has come to my attention for years now that communication technology has an unbelievable influence on the lives of people, especially the younger generations. My hypothesis is that the increased use and reliance on gadgets, such as smartphones, affects a decrease in face-to-face social interaction and empathy, creating a world of virtual interactions and loneliness instead. Research includes in-depth interviews with women in their twenties, regarding the dependence on communicational devices and developing a succinct idea for a wearable technology alternative. I visually represent this social alienation in a fashion collection, by using the negative space created between two bodies of people on their phones. The main goal is to incorporate communication technology as an integral part of fashion in a more obscure and less distracting way. Specifically, I created a pocket that is lined with RF Shielding Fleece. When a phone is inserted and the pocket
is fully closed, this disables any notifications to reach the phone. In social situations, a noise sensor detects several voices in social situations and triggers the closure of the pocket. This results in muting the phone, indicated by blinking lights, allowing the wearer to fully focus on face-to-face interactions and increased mindfulness in conversations instead. I address the main problems of wearable technology, including repeatability, scalability, power sources and washability. Repeatability is achieved by creating a standard model that can be scaled and could enter mass production. Hardware is integrated into the garment in removable sections, which allows easy-care washability of the garment and the exchange of power sources. One of the main challenges of this undertaking is the outsourcing of the technical knowledge to incorporate communication technology into the garments. The in-depth research on social alienation and the physical effects of human dependence on communication technology inform the aesthetic of the collection and thus draw attention to the issue. In this research paper, I aim to answer the following research questions: How does communication technology influence the lives of 49
women in their twenties, what challenges does communication technology create, and how can communication technology be incorporated into fashion to offer a less socially alienating solution? All in all, this project is designed to serve the human need of connectivity through fashion as an extension of our body I was able to interview renowned experts in the field, such as professor Aneta Genova, professor Sabine Seymour, industry expert Bradley Quinn, and well-established design developer Chaz Mee. Genova and Seymour were able to point me in the direction of current social trends and publications on the topic. It was especially interesting to hear about the many applications of technology in fashion and the social implications that can occur. Bradley Quinn noted that, “at the moment, communication technology is outside of us […]. It is becoming a necessity. In the future, it will be like the air that we breathe. It won’t be an issue of logging on or connecting to have access to this information. It will just be part of who we are.” This forecast was very alarming to me as I thought about the socially alienating implications this might have. I immediately knew that with my thesis, I wanted to target the possi50
ble negative social effects of our increased incorporation of technology. Furthermore, I conducted customer research interviews among women in their early twenties regarding their relationship with their phone. It was very interesting to draw conclusions from overlapping statements. I found that, most participants confessed to be heavily reliant on their gadgets. Many were annoyed by the fact that it distracted them from social situations and negatively impacted faceto-face interactions. According to 21year old R.D., “technology can be a gift, but if our generation isn’t careful about it, it’s going to very much ruin, or harm the human experience all together, because I think that we’re kind of forgetting how important communication outside of technology is.” Her statement sparked the idea of incorporating wearable technology into the garments that insured a more controlled use of mobile technology. One of the most important books was the recent publication Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle . According to the author, the increased reliance on our gadgets, especially in social situations, has affected a decrease in empathy and creativity. Shifting our focus on the digital world instead of face-to-face interaction impacts our ability to read and respond to each other in real life. According to Turkle, this can become a serious problem for the younger generation that has been heavily relying on technology since birth. This astonishing realization sparked the idea of designing wearable technology to positively affect increased
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mindfulness in social situations. I deepened my understanding of the field by researching a pre-existing case study by Intervoice conducted in 2005 regarding people’s dependency on their smartphones. In specific, the participants were denied using their phones for a whole day and had to subsequently report their experiences concerning their social behavior and emotional state “blurring the distinction between real and fake,” and “living a distanced and distracted life”. Astonishingly, six out of ten participants were afraid of losing their friends if they lost their phones. A site visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Manus x Machina was an incredible source of insight. It was evident that the most successful pieces were the ones that had the most commercial viability. In order for wearable technology to be the future of fashion, it needs to have potential to be produced in large scale and be taken care of conveniently. I came across two phenome-
nal photographers that hugely inspired further design development, namely Eric Pickersgill and Dennis Rito. Their sociological photography focuses on people completely absorbed by their phones and the eerie atmosphere this creates. I took this idea further by taking photographs of groups of people in Washington Square Park, who seemed to be ‘lost in their own world,’ while using their phones. One of the most interesting findings was that people in pairs did not seem to be bothered by the fact that their conversation was put on hold in awkward silence for up to thirty minutes, while they were paying attention to their phones instead of their friends or partners. The first step that I took was to outline the wearable technology that previously existed on the market. Specifically, I paid attention to the mechanisms, functions, and design features. I realized that most gadgets on the market focused on creating a solution to easier access of tech51
nology, but there was hardly anything to be found that regulated a more mindful use. I continued manipulating the found and self-created photographs of people on their phones. What stood out to me was the interesting negative space that was created between the bodies. I traced these shapes, and then applied them to sketches of the female figure in several ways to create silhouette ideas. I then sketched the re-occurring bodily postures of people on their phones. Certain hand positions and arched backs for instance could be seen over and over again. These shapes then translated into garment ideas and construction details through collaging, sketching, and draping on the form. This project concludes in a 52
full fashion collection of 6-8 looks. Highlights of the collection are interchangeable modular pieces that include the wearable technology aspect. The voice-sensitive pockets, which enclose and shield phones from signals, can be detached and reapplied in several different ways to different looks. This makes the collection versatile, and gives the wearer freedom of choice, whether they want to use the technology or not. Overall, this aspect functions as a surprise to the viewer, who only realizes there is a function to the collection after wearing it. The aim of this collection is to provide an informed narrative that is based on both sociological data as well as visual research. The conveyed message is to beware of how much and to what extent we use mobile technology. By offering a regulating wearable technology solution, my customer is offered an alternative that integrates seamlessly into both her wardrobe and her current lifestyle. .
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GRACE: AN INCLUSIVE FASHION COLLECTION Simeon Morris & José Teunissen The roughly 3.3 million wheelchair users in Europe represent an emerging market . In order to help them, designers need to engage the specific needs of these consumers in their design process. New technologies, such as 3D body scanning, have proved to be very useful to understand the specific variations in body size and patterns. The first category of wheelchair users with high paraplegia have no ability to dress themselves; the second category can not use their legs, but feel completely free and mobile with the wheelchair. In both categories, the body dimensions can be very different. Increasingly, 3D body scanning has been used to map variations in size and body dimensions of wheelchair users . First, there are disabled people with a body shape identical to abled-bodied people. For these people the existing clothing size charts can be used – only an adaption of existing pattern systems is needed to make them appropriate and comfortable for the seated person. Secondly, there are disabled wheelchair users with a body shape that has changed due to sitting and dystrophy of the legs. Most wheelchairs users fall into this category where the abdomen is often thicker and legs have be-
come thin due to hypotrophy. The last category contains disabled people with a deviating body shape, for example, asymmetry. For this group, custom-made patterns have to be developed. Specially designed clothing for wheelchair-users can be helpful and beneficial. Wang a.o. showed that good customized clothing could reduce a toilet visit time by 46% and undressing time by 25%  . Well-being in clothing is not only defined by the right form and functionality of clothing. In the same way as abled people do, wheelchair users want to express themselves with nice and distinctive clothing . However, many wheelchair users have difficulties to find nice and comfortable clothing, not only due to fit and functionality problems, but also to limited access to stores that are wheelchair user-friendly . To fully understand clothing behaviour and clothing desires of people in wheelchairs, one needs to discern five important themes: form and function, self-expression, social identity, self-reliance and symbols of victory . “Each disabled person must be seen as an individual with a distinct set of physical and psychological limitations and each garment designed and produced for that individual must take all of these limitations into account,” 53
explain Renee Weiss Chase and M. Dolores Quinn, in their early study on disability and design, Simplicity’s design without limits”. Designing and sewing for special needs . In this definition, the view of clothing for the disabled is holistic, physical and psychological, and built at the individual level. They make an explicit reference to the sense of self and identity, proposing that it is based on physical, intellectual and social elements, including a strong sense of how self-perception is defined by how others see us . They go on to explore the effect of becoming disabled on self-esteem, stating, “When a person becomes disabled the perception of self is often confused, damaged or even lost... the person goes through grief and mourning. This process hopefully results in ... a willingness to rebuild a sense of self and self-esteem,” . The inspiration of GRACE is built on this holistic concept whilst using the outcomes of the other work packages. Research methodology The design research project is part of a cross-disciplinary research project, where anthropometric science was involved to generate information on the specific needs and body measurements of people in wheelchairs by 54
using 3D body scans. In the second work, package surveys and interviews were set out to gain more insight in the wishes of wheelchair-users . For the pilot project GRACE, the results of both research outcomes were used as the start of a design research project, an iterative research project, where the end product, a pilot fashion collection, is an artefact – where the thinking is so to speak, embodied in the artefact, and where the goal is not primarily communicable knowledge in the sense of verbal communication, but in the sense of visual or iconic or imagistic communication . We will describe and explain here the iterative design process, and illustrate how the outcomes of the two other work packages are naturally interwoven in the reflection of the design process. Developing the concept for GRACE Initial research started by searching for a new pattern-cutting approach. Soon, however, we discovered that this was already covered by other brands, such as A Body Issue, Arnhem, and other earlier approaches of making clothing for disabled people developed throughout history. Previous research submitted by I. Petcu suggested that seated people did not want any more highlights to their difference . The interview results along with the existing theoretical literature showed that many seated people did not want clothing to be specially cut for them . They had had enough of being ‘different’ and ‘other,’ and wished to dress just like any other person would. They had the same desires as someone who is standing: to
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look fashionable, attractive, hide flaws, keep warm, look sexy, etc. This led to the starting point for the design research part: fashion do not need to go over to the world of seated people and ‘rescue’ them from bad design. Instead, it could include the specific needs of seated people in its design process. Seated people do not need rescuing, they just need their needs and their world to be included in the broader conversation: inclusion . They wanted to be able to join abled bodied people, and dress the same, with the same concerns: attractiveness, fashionable, sexy, comfort, glamour, luxury, etc. This result made us decide to treat the design project like any other fashion design process, but starting with being seated as the initial focus (rather than being disabled). So, we looked at the proportion of the body in this position, and issues of comfort, but we did not dwell on them. We looked at the atmosphere of being seated: in repose, gracefulness, stillness, contemplation, peace, rest, etc. Primarily, GRACE is about an aesthetic viewpoint – it started with the simplest actions while being seated, and developed from there a subtle exploration of what that means and how this might impact the design of clothing. The title comes from my personal interest in gracefulness, as a state of being, that is utterly distinct from the more oft cited and fashionable term,
‘Elegance’. In our current visual culture, aesthetic elegance objectifies and prepares a woman to be acceptable for the male gaze . Gracefulness, on the other hand, is something else entirely. It is a state of being, a feeling of solidity and calmness borne of a strong sense of self. Grace is founded on strength and balance. To be seated, to be in repose, is to be grounded, settled, and with strong roots. So, our collection GRACE, is primarily a high end fashion collection, taking inspiration from this seated position, and aiming to be comfortable, functional, and making use of an imagery that is calmer, and more, still than the usual, energetic and objectifying position of traditional fashion collections and photo shoots. The role of pattern-cutting As a part of the design process we naturally applied pattern-cutting processes and fitting approaches based on research by A Body Issue, conducted with the use of 3D body scanning and others . We were aware that able-bodied people, also, have issues with ready to wear clothing: plus size, long arms, no waist, large feet, etc. The readyto-wear fashion industry often avoids catering to these people and has focused on an ideal, average figure (often focussing on young white women to the exclusion of others). This seems to be an issue of marketing: is it feasible to offer more specialised clothing to a smaller market? Op55
tions for people who don’t fit standard sizes are outsize clothing, baggy sportswear, like t-shirts and tracksuit bottoms, or made-to-measure clothing which is expensive. This insight led to the decision to pull back from cutting the clothes too closely to the seated figure, to allow standing people to also wear them. There is a slight idiosyncrasy to the clothes when worn by people standing up, which has a fashionable feel – slightly ill-fitting yet in a cool way. Based on that information, we altered the cut of garments to help them sit better on the body whilst seated, but also keeping in mind that people who stood could also wear them – just as seated people wear clothing cut for those who stand, why not the reverse? At the same time, we did not want to focus primarily on pattern-cutting approaches, to avoid sending the garments off on a tangent into ‘weird’ clothing territory. If we had focussed entirely on cutting clothing to follow the exact shape of the seated figure, then the garment shapes would have become quite extreme and far removed from what we normally recognise as contemporary clothing. To my mind, it is neither necessary, nor, in fact, desirable to go that far. Clothing cut for the standing figure is made 56
to be wearable in different situations – the ability to raise one’s arm about the head is considered and is more easily achieved in certain garments, a T-shirt for example. However, it is not necessary to cut such movement into every garment. Likewise, clothing cut for the standing figure functions pretty well whilst a person is seated. It works because this person can stand and adjust themselves if necessary. Of course, a disabled person does not have that luxury, so their needs must be included in the garment, but not at the expense of its attractiveness. That is the whole objective of designing this collection – to be both functional and attractive. To that end, my pattern cutting approach utilised some of the techniques developed by, but then pulled back from them, to keep the garments in the realms of standard clothing, which also allows the garments to be worn by someone who is not confined to a wheelchair. To make a more luxurious collection, we avoided stretchy jerseys and used more traditional textiles: cotton drill, wool suiting, denim, cotton poplin, etc. In cases we did use jersey; a luxury textile from Paris without Elastane. To optimize the conformability of the collection, the following specific pattern cutting and design consideration were used: -Trousers and skirts are cut with a long back rise (crotch) and short front is raised. -Tops, blouses, T-shirts and jackets, all are cut on a seated figure with a slouch (we do not sit bolt upright.)
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-Armholes are moved around more to the front, and back is increased in length.
in wheels. No fabric bunching around waist.
-Back armhole is lengthened and neck is moved forward slightly.
-Hems on some short pieces are cut at an angle to give a more attractive look.
-Gussets are added into side seams that allow front of garment to rest better on legs. Gussets can be closed for someone standing.
-Proportions are considered from seated perspective: shorted tops, and Âž length trousers and skirts to break up body proportions.
-Gusset is inserted in armhole of traditional blazer to allow for wheeling movement in wheelchair.
-Natural textiles are used where possible; some polyester is used for crease resistance.
-Knitwear is developed with reinforced sections at armhole and elbow to avoid wear . -Trousers and skirts are narrow to avoid fabric getting caught
The result is primarily a high-end fashion collection. Of course, price is an issue for disabled people who often do not have disposable income, but the pilot collection was mainly designed as a proposal on how a collection designed 57
with wheelchair users in mind could be, from a fashionable and aesthetic point of view. From the pilot collection GRACE, created as a part of this cross-disciplinary research project on people in wheelchairs, we could derive the following conclusions. People seated in wheelchairs do not want their disability to be the focus of how they dress themselves. It does not define them, and they would often prefer it to be hidden, or to be of no issue. They do not want clothes that draw attention to their disabilities, or remind them or others, of being different or not ‘normal.’ The
“People seated in wheelchairs do not want their disability to be the focus of how they dress themselves. It does not define them.” problems they face in dressing themselves are much the same as those experienced by other types of people – those who are very tall, or large, with long arms, or a stoop, or with outsized feet. Thus, the five important values that Hodges and Yurchisin discerned for people in wheelchairs – form and function, self-expression, social identity, self-reliance and symbols of victory – are also relevant for able-bodied people . It is clear that, 58
clothing design and the world of fashion can take steps towards producing garments, and desirable brand identities that appeal to a larger and more inclusive group of people. And beyond, this helps us to escape conventional fashion discourse and aesthetic; using a new and fresh starting point the pilot GRACE helps us to define new imagery and aesthetics that escape the classical and narrow visual representations of the fashionable woman and man in general.
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T-SHIRT: A SARTORIAL OBJECT AS A CELEBRATION OF CULTURAL BECOMING Alla Eizenberg
Time is an active, omnipresent part of the human existence as are clothes. However, if time is fluid, ephemeral, and eternal, then clothes are material, culturally inferior, and disposable. The greatest thinkers of history turned their attention to time, trying to define, theorize and conceptualize its existence; many of them criticized and were resent
ful of clothes, in particular of the system that creates them — fashion, for its celebration of superficiality and promotion of materialism. In an attempt to define time, Russel West-Pavlov argues that, “there is no ‘time’ outside of the multiple ongoing processes of material becoming, the constant 59
transformation, […] that make up a life of apparently inert things,” yet his argument led me to argue that manifestation of time is not limited to the exclusively material metamorphosis . In this article, I will explore a connection between clothing and time that transcends the material aging of clothes and looks at the evolution of the cultural meaning of clothes as an evidence of time. In fact, materiality has served as a predominant approach to connect clothes and temporality for a long time. It is widely acceptable to regard “wear-and-tear,” smell or deterioration of the textile as a central manifestation of time that clothes represent. Nowadays however, it is a consensus that clothes are more than simple utility objects whose characteristics are determined by practice and function, or by association with somebody dear or important. Fred Davis and Joanne Entwistle, see clothes as signs in the complex system of social interaction, calling them the “raw material for performing identity,” . Contemplating West-Pavlov’s argument from Davies and Entwistle’s perspective, I will turn my attention to the process of clothes becoming signs, the evolution of their meanings beyond the 60
practicality or fashionable statement. Media representations, documentary photographs, and popular culture examples established these meanings within the cultural memory of the Western societies. Preserved and available for reading, these gathered and layered meanings have induced rudimentary articles of clothing with indispensable value and substance, turning them into the “thickly inscribed”objects, potent symbols capable of complex communication. Unlike the common belief that clothes are the subordinate entities in the fashion discourse, I argue that there is a number of garments among sartorial selection that are independent and powerful markers on their own, items charged with the meaning and representational value. Fashion can and does utilize them for the needs and statements it produces. However, this does not diminish or suspend the inherited qualities of these garments and they continue to layer meanings due to their own special character. In this study, I will focus my attention on one of those significant items of clothing, a “t-shirt,” a potent marker, a sign in the system of the sartorial semiotics, demonstrating how the accumulation of meanings collected by the garment celebrates the evolution of Western culture. From an Undergarment to Sign The WT-shirt started its ascent as a knitted undergarment made of plain and soft cotton. Usually sleeveless or with short sleeves, its purpose was to protect the body from the rougher outer garments usually made of un-
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refined wools or cottons, to absorb sweat, and provide heat and comfort due to the characteristics of cotton fibers, allowing air circulation. These shirts had a basic construction similar to an ethnic costume, featuring a t-shaped body made of the four rectangles that looked like a “T” when assembled, establishing the name of the garment as a “t-shirt,” even though initially it was called a “vest,” “singlet” and most commonly an “undershirt”. Originally, t-shirts were made at home by the members for the members of the household, which preserved it as a private garment for private spaces. With industrialization t-shirts started to be mass-produced, but still kept their private character. Wearing a t-shirt in public was a transgressive act epitomized by Marlon Brando performance in the cinematic production of Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1951. There the t-shirt gained its first cultural signification as a garment representative of the post-war atmosphere of disillusionment that confronted the blue-collar male returning home. Tightly stretched on the muscular body, dirty with sweat t-shirt became representative of the raw physical masculinity. This marked the beginning of t-shirt’s cultural evolution as a garment containing meanings beyond its functionality, capable to communicate information about the identity of the wearer, turning t-shirt into the semiotic sign of social communication.
During the 1960’s the t-shirt became more ubiquitous due to the general democratization of Western societies. In these years, the t-shirt evolves into a messaging board through which the wearers start to communicate their beliefs and ambitions. “Seditionaries series” t-shirts designed by Vivienne Westwood during the 1970’s marked a new meaning a t-shirt could represent. Torn, decorated with an inadequate graphics, and mutilated in any way possible, these t-shirts were not designed as a fashion items, but as a “communication of a significant difference,” an attempt to disturb and shock the mainstream culture that “masquerades as nature” . The 1990’s, marked by postmodern ambivalence highlighted a need for simplicity and naturalness. Plain t-shirts in light pale colors or just white with minimal graphics became popular, representing minimalistic and comfortable American sartorial identity, and marking “a reaction against the formalist notion of beauty.” Postmodern Compression: Ambiguity of Sign Given the history of the cultural becoming of the t-shirt described above, it is interesting to see what happens to the “thick inscription” generated by the t-shirt in the the late-postmodern era characterized by cultural remix 61
. I would like to argue that nowadays, the new meaning is constructed through the context manipulation and embodiment. Those destabilize the existing meanings and transform them into the new ones solely by perpetuation of the defining factors. Here the analysis of the DHL t-shirt that recently was used by Vetements in the Spring 2016 collection will be useful. Being the uniform of the courier — real physical labour occupation, the Vetements t-shirt reestablishes connection with its earlier-days connotations of the working class. As a mundane and recognizable part of the everyday life, the context of the fancy runway show turns the t-shirt into an almost “confrontation dressing” sharing some of the punk communicational characteristics; without being distorted, it distorts the status quo of the fashion discourse. The aesthetic value, ordinariness, and luxury-market price of the item sum up into an offensive commentary or a parody on the fashion system and its followers. Embodied by Gosha Rubchinskiy, now wellknown designer and photographer, though identifiable with the basic minimalism of post-Soviet aesthetics, Vetements’ t-shirt saturates the normalcy of Normcore. From the postmodern theory perspective, the DHL t-shirt by Vetements is caught in the area defined by Jencks as “the double-coding […], the juxtaposition of codes that underscores these 62
oppositions,” . The t-shirt becomes meaningful and the top of the ‘must-have’ list of the season, due to its appearance in the context of the high-fashion show. At the same time it is exactly because of its inappropriateness for the context of the Parisian runway that the brand with the controversial and anti-establishment identity as Vetements choses to make it a part of their collection. The time-binding effect is strongly present here, it compresses and collages meanings and contexts, disrupting the relationship between the two and offering new reading possibilities of the same garment. The meanings are further vary through the embodiment which, as context, creates different connotations when worn by Gosha Rubchinskiy vs Ken Allen, middle-aged Chairman of the DHL Corporate. The locations and events, to which the t-shirt can be worn, further perpetuate the meaning of the garment, especially if those include fashionable receptions or casual outings of celebrities. DHL t-shirt also represents an interesting spin on the idea of the “copies and real copies,” . While the Vetements version is actually a copy, a slightly altered replica of the original courier’s uniform, in the moment of it becoming a staple of the season, this iteration turns into the more important, highly sought after item— ‘the real copy,’ subverting the actual DHL t-shirt that can be purchased from the DHL
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website into a ‘copy’ of the latest fashion of the moment. To conclude, I would like to argue that more than anything, in the form of the courier uniform— socially inferior labour, Vetements bluntly and consciously delivered their own version of the emperor’s new clothes, and for this specific case it was not even much of a critique. Rather, it was a statement, a commentary on the late-postmodern condition where even being critical is overrated, because of the evanescence of the moment in the contemporary high-speed environment. As this study shows, despite the minimalism and simplicity of its material characteristics, the t-shirt is not an ordinary garment, may have never been. Following up on the journey of the rudimentary item of clothing, the t-shirt, from its modest origins of the undergarment to the potent positioning of sign, my study demonstrates that the transformation undergone by the t-shirt is closely related to the socio-political characteristics of the historical moments, in which the changes have occurred. These temporal associations turn a t-shirt into a chronotype, an object that contains temporal narrative. Given that the meanings of the t-shirt have not just replaced one anoth-
er, but accumulated into an archive of meanings, suggests that the temporal narrative stays embedded in the general perception of the garment, similarly to holes and stains that accrue on the particular t-shirt. The cultural becoming is a unique process, it is not available to any sartorial object and it is certainly not related to fashionability of the garment. Often, the clothes that are capable of bearing the multiplicity of meanings are called “iconic,” they play an important role in the expression of identity and grant us with the opportunities for more inclusive interpersonal communications. The t-shirt is one of those important sartorial artifacts — single in its simplicity and multiple in its complexity — its “cultural biography“ celebrates the narrative of the Western social history.
ENSŌ: CELEBRATING THE BODY THROUGH DESIGN Dominique Dajeé Norman
Inspiration and Purpose In Zen Buddhism, the Ensō symbol is a circle drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The Ensō symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, the universe, and mu (the void). When the circle is open, it represents the beauty of imperfection, symbolizing the allowance for movement and development. When the circle is closed, it represents the perfection of all things. 64
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I chose the Ensō symbol for this collection to challenge the way that society views underrepresented and marginalized bodies. When I created this collection, I was the first undergraduate student in the department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles at Washington State University to produce a plussize collection. This provided me with the task of challenging the status quo in the fashion industry and challenging the typical silhouette created for the plus-size body. Plus-size women are stigmatized as needing to hide. This collection challenges that narrative by utilizing innovative fabric and designs to fit and flatter the plus-size body. My goal was to create designs that are equally fashion forward and innovative. Fashion should not be limited to one body. Fashion is transcendent. Ensō transcends the fashion narrative and conveys that Plus Is Equal. Process and Technique Draping to the body was a new technique learned for this collection. Neoprene provided strength, stability, stretch, and structure that the plus-size body needs. Vinyl with a one-way stretch created a new use for upholstery fabric that is atypical of plussize textiles. Neoprene and
vinyl are uncommon fabrics to utilize together, but by doing this it gives my designs an unanticipated edge, combining structure and innovation to challenge the typical use of fabrics. Each design was created with a goal in mind for the person wearing it. The sharp lines and geometric detail were used to over-exaggerate the curves of the body, the places that plus-size women are encouraged to hide, disguise, or manipulate. Each piece had enough structure to support the body, to provide confidence for the wearer to not have to manipulate her body to fit the clothes, but rather for the clothes to be designed to fit and flatter her as she is. Celebration Fashion has a history of hierarchical representations. The fashion trends that underrepresented bodies provide keep the hierarchical structure of the fashion industry in place. Plus-size women make up 67% of the U.S. population, as stated by research from Washington State University, but continue to have a separation in fashion. Ensō was created to celebrate the marginalized body. To celebrate plussize women, to celebrate women of color, and celebrate the contribution our bodies give to the world and to fashion. Ensō is a celebration of self— self-love, self-confidence, and all of the things that allow us to celebrate the things that make us perfectly imperfect.
MARTIN MARGIELA’S PRACTICE IN DEFENSE OF SLOW FASHION Eleni Baltzoglou
In the so-called information age of the 21st century, the experience of acceleration is undoubtedly a persistent part of everyday life. Our days are filled with intensive impulses of an escalating variety in (im)material products, the flow of which are intrinsically associated with media and the newly sophisticated technologies designed and directed to be effective and efficient in terms of time. While media and consumer culture in its own production and narration of the new and ‘now-ness’ is understood as the development of timeliness and a lifestyle of cultural amnesia, fashion is being inscribed in temporal and spatial fragments, where the chronological conceptions of “fashion seasons” and “fashion weeks” create a continuously ephemeral, passing experience of in-fashion moments. The fashion industry has thus become highly competitive, with a constant urgency to refresh product ranges, transforming unexpectedly the older cyclical temporality of natural seasons into perpetual time slots, as indicated by Maynard, in a movement towards continuous linear replenishments of new styles and merchandise. Questioning the idea of being concerned exclusively with novelty and the now, experimental and unconventional designs are seen emerging at the turn of the millennium, to refer to an ideology of attentiveness, slowness and distress. Defined as “deconstuctivism” or “anti-fashion” by the gatekeepers of fashion, it represents the willingness to reverse the operating mechanism of a current system by using conceptual strategies of time-related disruptions and distortions, and slowing down the fashion cycle. Such is the example of the designer from Antwerp in Belgium, Mar66
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tin Margiela, whose design forms, first initiated in the late 1980s, opened a new frontier towards breaking the conventions and existing norms in fashion, changing radically the understanding of image, design practice and meaning. Embraced by fashion scholars, theorists and practitioners, the Belgian designer has been the subject of analysis in a number of academic publications: from Alison Gill’s Deconstruction Fashion: The Making of Unfinished, Decomposing and Re-assembled Clothes,” and Francesca Granata’s Fitting Sources – Tailoring Methods: A Case-Study of Martin Margiela and the Temporalities of Fashion, to Caroline Evans’ The Golden Dustman, and Barbara Vinken’s dedicated chapter in her book Fashion Zeitgeist. Additionally, exhibition reviews, such as the MMM 20th Anniversary at the Antwerp ModeMuseum and the La Maison Martin Margiela: (9/4/1615) at the Rotterdam Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, as well as newspaper articles in New York Times and Women’s Wear Daily, are remarking his collections as juxtapositions to the self-evident chronological architecture and essence of restlessness, identified as intrinsic parts of our new fashion routines.
But, how has Martin Margiela challenged the ephemerality of items offered in real time to the multidimensional complexity of our social interaction, managing to re-shift the focus from fashion as image to its materiality? How is he changing the profile of the fashion designer, who is conventionally expected to work with new materials and produce brand new things every season, to develop into an ethical and critical activist? How is he defending his deconstructivist aesthetics towards a slow design movement, while successfully influencing – both theoretically and commercially – the relation between people and objects? In order to question the quality of forwardness or backwardness, and further uncover Margiela’s operations of endurance and ethics in the field of high fashion, the Spring/Summer and Autumn/ Winter ‘97 collections have been selected for visual analysis, following Gillian Rose’s methodology, to substantiate wider arguments of Margiela’s practice in defense of slow fashion. By introducing also other contemporary fashion designers who are referencing Margiela’s work, both in design and modes of presentation, this paper will provide additional reflections upon the way his work may be seen today, in the difference of time. Deconstructing Martin Margiela In her wider research on 20th century and contemporary visual and material culture, Francesca Granata specifically mentioned that “Margiela’s work makes this argument most convincingly by recycling his own collections, as well as old clothes from various past decades, he highlights the cy67
clical nature of fashion, which is sometimes denied by the linear and progressive teleological narrative of Western history, and fashion history in particular.” In interplay with the notions of time, the Belgian designer’s deconstructive and hybrid work is underpinned on the unfinished garments that were already saturated with complex historical traces and meanings, as well as the mixture of second-hand clothing and raw materials in multi-layering time resonances. While positioning him between a rag-picker and a designer, who finds commodities with the lowest exchange value in the fashion system only to reposition them at the top of hierarchy of prestige, Caroline Evans draws a parallel between Margiela’s practice of fashion and the activity of bricoleurs in the industrialized landscape of the early nineteenth century. Like Baudelaire’s poet/ rag-picker, “marginal to the industrial process…he too recovered cultural refuse for exchange value,” while transforming abject materials in the world of high fashion, turning himself into a “Golden Dustman”. Further to his scavenging moribund, the fashion theorist Barbara Vinken reveals that Margiela has reformulated the basic logic of fashion by making new out of the old and evolving conceptual patterns and silhouettes achieving diversity in the field: “every piece that is made according to this 68
method, regardless of how many versions there may be, is a unique piece, because the materials that are used in it are unique.” Under his nostalgic sensitivity looking for authenticity and uniqueness and the affinity to the past, the designer has been acknowledged for using the aesthetic strategies of “semi-couture” to reflect on a design language of materiality and gradual growth of garments as work in progress. On the other hand, Alison Gill has considered the way Margiela repeats designs and motifs with minor modifications across collections, in order to draw attention also to the notion of repetition. Marked by a vivid tension between transience and persistence, Margiela becomes a fashion timing ruler in his own right and presents fash-
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ion as a cultural phenomenon and expressive medium, valuing the materials used and the actual, tactile experience of making and dressing. Yet, the work of deconstruction goes beyond the mere collage or the recycled postpunk patterns. Based on Elizabeth Wilson, it is perceived as a “more intellectual approach, which literally unpicked fashion, exposing its operations, its relations to the body and at the same time to the structures and discourses of fashion.” More specifically, it involves a thorough consideration of fashion’s debt to its own history; a critical thought to the rhythm of production that the economic system imposes on designers and its fashion-forward but prestigious condition. More specifically, Francesca Granata noted in her article “Deconstruction fashion: Carnival and the grotesque,” the first recorded use of the term “deconstructivist” coined with Margiela’s design forms in the context of clothing, to suggest that the recognizable approach, drawn originally from the field of arts and architecture, has gradually manifested itself as a loss of trust in fashion’s prioritizations and as a revolt against the glamour and disregard of the design process:
Martin Margiela, formerly a Gaultier assistant, in this, his second collection on his own, provided quite a different vision of fashion of the 1990s: a beatnik, Existentialist revival […] The construction of the clothes suggests a deconstructivist movement, where the structure of the design appears to be under attack, displacing seams, tormenting the surface with incisions. All suggest a fashion of elegant decay. Kaat Debo and Linda Loppa, in their profile about Margiela, emphasize as well the fact that the concept of revolutionizing fashion became very popular based on his pioneering work, which “was deconstructivist because he took not only the garment itself into consideration, but also the system that produced it.” In discovering other feasible solutions and giving new substance to the supposedly absolute notion of newness, Margiela’s success story is seen as “a set of analyses questioning the established theories of what already exists, in order to search for alternatives that can be brought to life, both within and outside the system.” Similarly, Gill ascribed to the designer a seminal disruptive way of thinking in the process of making, to indicate the expressional form of critiquing the existent order . The philosophical understanding of deconstruction has thus been interpreted into fashion as a creative design movement, as well as an intellectual channel, promising to build up a new society with contrasting set of values and aesthetics, revising the ephemeral nature of fashion .
Slow Fashion in Margiela’s intellectual design project Questioning the constantly changing trends in fashion, Geiger realizes, “fashion is well aware of the impossibility of the present and the impossibility to be up-todate. Fashion does not doom us to succumb to the cult of Now that makes us feel so dizzy with speed. It would be highly useful if we could only bring ourselves to become aware of these strategies of time-related disruptions on a conscious level.” Meaning that, the aesthetic strategies of time-related disruptions by certain designers, such as Martin Margiela, indicate consistency and the slowness of fashion, which is “fashion’s normal pulse” of steadiness and continuity. Corresponding to the essence of radical fashion as a conceptual and experimental fashion design movement, Claire Wilcox argues that slow design can be positioned in deconstructivism, due to the opportunity the latter gives to relate taste, novelty and aesthetics with social awareness and responsibility, while defending particularly the genuine role of the design and designer. Margiela’s work can then be approached from an ethical and activist perspective, not only for adopting an ironic stance against the conventional fashion system, but also for its dynamic to dispute power relations as well as fashion’s obsession with the image and novelty, rather than the 70
material and the craftsmanship. It is therefore important to understand the work of the Belgian designer and the methods he used to denounce the existing attitude of “fast use and throw away” that requires constant change and innovation, and explore the possibilities slow design movement has to offer through the selected hybrid object-bodice under visual analysis, which has become a signature piece for Martin Margiela’s work and intellectual thesis. Acting like a critical activist against the mass production practices and the glamorous labor correlated with haute couture, Margiela is naming his two successive seasonal collections semi-couture— also highlighted on the bottom of his own mannequin dummies— to place both himself as a designer and his creations between the two sides of the fashion nexus. Having explicit allusions to the process of making and ideas of craftsmanship, both looks are intentionally exposing the linings and seams utilizing Margiela’s deconstructive intelligence, to comment specifically on the methods of draping and patternmaking (or cutting); two important stages in the garment construction. While they seem to be incomplete, they are consciously made this way, to function as creative design testaments of the gradual growth of garments as work in progress. Taking his experimental aesthetic and enigmatic approach a step further, Margiela is capturing fa-
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ing en masse. Although each human body is different and unique, it loses its individual significance when forced into one of several standardized sizes, classified in a table of measurements.
miliar points of reference, by paraphrasing elements found on the classic Stockman’s Haute-Couture bust-forms, to refer to the attentive use of busts and mannequins in the process of designing, drafting, and cutting. At the same time, Margiela’s artificial dummies perform as markers of judgment against modern fashion’s harsh reality; meaning that the individual body is almost completely ignored when designing and produc-
“Margiela’s artificial dummies perform as markers of judgment against modern fashion’s harsh reality; meaning that the individual body is almost completely ignored when designing and producing en masse”
While exposing the established fashion structures and relations to the human body, Martin Margiela is also drawing attention to the notion of repetition, by creatively putting into dialogue the cyclical versus the linear time of production and consumption, giving new substance to the sentiments of newness and ephemeral desire. Having the same designs repeated in two seasons in a row with minor modifications, Martin Margiela is going for the creation of a line that is timeless, while declaring the essence of continuity and steadiness through time, in opposition to the temporary high street and runway fashion conceptions. Summarizing the philosophical underpinnings of designer’s proposition of wearing, his seminal disruptive way of making is a reaction against the ubiquitous system, highlighting the importance of individuality, as opposed to finding a way of dressing prescribed and sized by the overriding trends. The designer takes the same daring and progressive approach also to his modes of presentation. With models who do not have a typical form, figure or face, and certainly no hairstyle, he is deliberately presenting his collections without a model’s persona, so that the attention is purely focused on the clothes presented and the materials used, instead of who is wearing them. Renowned for concentrating on the materiality of the garments, Margiela is using cotton, 71
linen and chiffon in imperfect or incomplete forms, to condemn the delusion of attention on the way the presented outfits should look to impress, either on or off the runway. Aiming to keep attention to the insights of tailoring and construction methods, both collections are very much about cut, proportion, shape, and the simplicity of fabrics used, which come in sharp contrast with today’s Insta-world of appearance, and reconcile the entire code of dressing, thinking and making to the level of art, freeing fashion from the laws of mass market. “Refusing the ‘false truth’ of design as a practice that is only of occasion for the market and
explore and expand design’s role and potential with its critical and affirmative possibilities for humane and sustainable directions,” the Belgian designer here acts more as an independent figure, a conceptual maker and a craftsperson, using the concept of slow fashion as an embodiment of rebirth, emotions and non-conformism. As a result, slow fashion is taking theoretically and commercially its strength from the philosophical project of deconstruction, in which the fashion system is transformed into a radical channel from within to challenge its obsession with image, and today’s urgency for fast production and fast consumption, speeding up the fashion cycle in unsustainable terms.
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ABSENCE Alexandra Oates
Absence, 2016, glazed and fired ceramics, dimensions variable My intention through my art is to erase the gendered signifiers attached to the body. I am exploring the ways which culture and the depiction of the nude body in art is stereotyped or limited within a gender binary. I am particularly interested in finding alternative ways to depict sexuality and express the male gaze figuratively. I am exploring figures interacting with each other and finding ways to blur the gender dynamics between them in order to indulge in
conversations about sexuality. Additionally, the ways in which peopleâ€™s sexuality is categorized and how it is depicted within art and fashion. Through my visual interpretation and study of the male sexuality through live figure drawing, I attempted to recreate a conventional shape that would represent masculinity through forms. The many forms are angular and compressed that seem separate yet part of the figure on the canvas. The attempt of abstracting the figureâ€™s gender gave me the opportunity to explore sexuality within a larger context without being limited to just drawing the actual body and 73
Figures in a bathroom, 2016, oil on canvas, 30 in x 40 in
“I am exploring figures interacting with each other and finding ways to blur the gender dynamics between them in order to indulge in conversations about sexuality”
without having to use fabric to cover the individuality and nature of the body. In my artwork, Absence, I have attempted using a plethora of mediums to explore the ways it can influence the gender dynamic of the work. I worked with clay because of its ability to capture the imprint of my body when performing with it. I made a series of clay sculptures, placing clay in various parts of my body before applying pressure. This then left an imprint of the negative space of parts of my body. This process gave me the ability to erase signifiers that categorize me as an individual. This artwork is interactive so the viewers are able to pick them up and place their hands and fingers onto the forms. I believe it attempts to question how the viewer would approach their ability to visualize the body that performed on the sculpture through touch. This will then push the viewer’s imagination and attempt to raise consciousness of stereotyping and categorizing individuals by not having the actual signifiers present.
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SUITS FOR THE IN-BETWEEN: AN INTERVIEW WITH GAHEE LIM Alani Gaunt Gahee Lim is a New York-based fashion designer, with roots in South Korea and Australia. Her 2016 collection Suit 001 is a culmination of her study in both womenswear and menswear at Parsons The New School for Design. Drawing from her experiences growing up in South Korea, and subsequently attending high school and university in Australia and New York, the collection is a celebration of diversity, imperfection, and border-crossing. Presented on male and female models, Lim’s brightly-colored pastel suits rendered in sheer layers of tulle bring together masculine and feminine, hard and soft, structured and airy, to create looks which challenges boundaries and exist in a state of being, as Lim puts it, “in-between.” The design and presentation draws from both menswear and womenswear traditions, and the lightness and translucence of the material allow the stitching and inner structure to show, visualizing and celebrating liminal space and imperfection, and challenging the separation of exterior and interior. What inspired your collection? What you are trying to say with the pieces? The whole inspiration started from being in-between. I was born in South Korea, and I went to high school in Australia, and then I did all the college education here. I was always a foreigner, always in-between. Also, ever since I was young, I always wanted to do what boys would be doing. I was relating more to like being a soccer player or being school captain… Especially growing up in an Asian country, that was not the stereotype of being a girl. It was not that I had huge problems with it, but I was always challenged by the concept. So, I wanted to do something that was hard, but also soft, something that was feminine, but also masculine at the same time. That’s why I picked to do suits made out of tulle, which is usually for ballerina tutus or wedding gown understructures. In the research stage, I got into studying the brand Brioni, the Italian suit company owned by Kering. They used to make suits for James Bond. A long time ago the character James Bond really didn’t have emotion. He was Mr. Perfect, a player. But now, James Bond is depicted as this real person. He loses 75
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his lover, he suffers… and people can relate to that more now. I think that was an inspiration also. He has this strong outside, soft inside… that was my idea for the collection. Is it about an openness to being whoever you are, without the constraints of gender stereotypes? Men being open to vulnerability, and women being more confident to show strength? Yes, that’s it. I think being honest about yourself is definitely vulnerable. Some of my collection has such see-through thin layers that you see like how the pockets were put on. Being vulnerable can still be beautiful. That’s what I was trying to say. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I think it’s beautiful in its own way. My boyfriend now is a very honest person – when he’s feeling things, he would express that to me, and I think that’s very attractive. Do you think it takes courage to wear this collection? Of course. On the runway, it’s styled with high heels for both men and women. When I was fitting, boy models would feel intimidated at first and they would feel challenged to do this mission, to walk down the runway and back up. It was interesting for me to see that. And a few of the garments have a center back opening like a lady’s skirt, for both men and women. And people were challenged, like, “how are we supposed to put this on?” I love the fact that it makes people be challenged and think about things. Boys would have to walk in a very different way. They put the heel first and then the toe. But when you go in high heels, you’re supposed to just walk on toes… A lot of the models probably didn’t have much experience with that. Yeah! But they were interested then, and they would like wear it backstage just to do a good job, practice by themselves. They were asking me, “Can I try this on before the show?” Things like that. So, it was quite fun for me to go through that with them. I mean, at first they hated it. They were so insulted that they had to wear high heels. It was quite surprising. Some of the models would just straight out say they can’t do it, so we’d switch the model. The ones who were like ballsy enough to stick it out till the end, they were so proud of themselves. How do you want your collection to make people feel? You say you want to challenge people – do you want it to be something that you have to rise to the challenge and come on the other side and feel different? Yeah, even making some of the pieces – I am not allowed to say 77
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couture when it’s not made in Paris – but the process is almost like that. Everything was flat until it was assembled. The panels had to be fabricated, stitched down… It was a study process for me as well… Some of the stitches were left on because it was functional, but if it’s a traditional tailor, you’re meant to take it out at the end. I want people to think that process, difference, imperfection – those could all be accepted. Because I think – especially being in fashion – the surface really matters, perfection and such. I just want people to think, to feel something. Do you see it as kind of a celebration of imperfection and diversity? Definitely. It was challenging for me to be accepted for what I am. I lived in Australia for high school and when I first went there it was very difficult to earn their friendship, because there were very few Asian people. It took a while for me to be a part of them and, once I was part of them, they were very accepting and they gave me so many opportunities to be school captain or a representative of some sort, things like that. I think that formed me as a person to accept people for what they are. I think I’m a lot more open-minded [because of that experience]. What do you think fashion, as an industry and form of expression, is capable of doing in terms of celebrating individuality? I certainly feel, as a fashion designer, my job is to help people feel themselves, not try to make them something else. Obviously my thesis collection is very artsy, but if I’m becoming a more commercial designer that sells clothes, I want people to wear my stuff and feel themselves, embracing their personality. But often, the culture of social media at the moment is embracing being a persona, whether it’s you or not. Some designers say that social media is changing the way they are approaching design, by prioritizing how garments look in two-dimensional images and changing the way the designers present themselves to the public. Is that a concern for you in your approach? That completely makes sense. I think, also – it’s important to follow those trends – but there are designers staying true to themselves. Staying almost quiet, disappearing to the background. I don’t think I can pick what’s better, what’s not, to be completely honest. Because sometimes I’m tempted to post my selfie. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But I think there is something romantic about when the designer sort of disappears and the clothes speak for themselves. Like, rather than clothes being loud on a person, they are almost there to just support the person’s personality just a little bit more. I think that’s when it’s beautiful.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HANDBAG AND WOMEN’S EMANCIPATION Capucine Giraudet
A woman’s handbag is a staple accessory that has evolved to be an extension of her arm as part of her identity. Since the inception of handbags in ancient times as storage baskets in the home, handbags have carried physical and cultural weight and symbolically represent aspects of identity in a given culture . A handbag not only holds a myriad of items that includes old lipsticks, leaky pens and crumpled receipts, it also holds a representation of character, which becomes a physical symbol of being. The handbag is a public, semiotic object that represents and signals a woman’s role in society. This discussion will argue that the handbag is an object of symbolic representation of female identity throughout history, where the bag embodies the increasing freedom and emancipated roles of women in society. This analysis will focus on three distinct periods of time, taking note of the handbags and the role of women in society in each era. These periods include the 18th Century, early 19th Century, and finally late 19th, early 20th Century. These blocks of time exhibit distinct changes in the expectations and behaviors of women, as symbolically represented by the handbag. Specifically, the handbag is the expression by wom80
en of their increasing freedom. The 18th century can be described as a period of Western prosperity and a time of strict conservative values. While men developed businesses, women were expected to stay at home, away from the dangers of industry, and assume domestic responsibilities. This dichotomy established the gender ideology of the “domestic sphere” in which women were subjugated to a stationary and submissive role in the home. The exaggerated and voluminous fashions for women at the time demonstrate this inferior role. Women wore
Figure 1 “Robe à la Française”, French, 1775-1800
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Figure 2 “Pocket”, American, 1784
hoop skirts and cinched corsets, which limited their physical mobility, and thus minimized the possibility of activities they could partake in. The “Robe à la Française” in Figure 1. illustrates such clothing, where the dress consists of a front tie corset and a large hoop skirt underneath the skirt of the dress to create the exaggerated shape. Because of the ample room these hoop dresses provided, women held their belongings in pockets found underneath the skirt, accessible only by a front slit . These bags range in ornamentation where some are heavily embroidered, as shown in Figure 2, while others are simply utilitarian as depicted in Figure 3. This handbag form is referred to as “thigh pockets” for the pouches were tied around the waist and placed close to the upper thigh . Con-
sequently, bags became a very personal object not only because of their intimate physical placement on the body, but also because they secretly held personal belongings. These pockets also have a symbolic nature in the context of the social climate of the time: just like women were private objects that were kept away in the home, the bags were also private and discrete objects. Finally, the pocket design exhibits both limited accessibility and functionality as the pocket can only be accessed by lifting up the skirt and sifting through the front slit. It is clear that the pocket bag correlates to the limited freedom of women at that time, for it represents the limited action and possibilities of women in the 18th century. The next century illustrates that, as time
Figure 3 ”Pocket”, American, 18th Century
progresses and cultural attitudes shift, women’s roles and subsequently the handbag, continue to evolve. At the turn of the 19th century, the excavation and unearthing of the lost city of Pompeii spurred the resurgence and popularity of Greek and Roman art and design . This greatly influenced fashion in that 81
women’s dress radically transformed from rigid architectural structures to softer, daintier and more Renaissance like designs. Women wore long draped sheath dresses made out of soft fabric that slightly exposed the nipples. A contrast to the culture of previous decades, the early 19th century can be described as a time of change and rebellion against old aristocratic decadence. Women began to “unchain” themselves from their previous place in the home and started to venture out into public settings and occasions. As a result, women needed access to their belongings when going out and since the hoop dresses had collapsed into thin sheaths, the pockets, which were, previously underneath the hoop, were now removed, exposed and hanging off the arm. This pocket, with its renaissance influence, is illustrated in Figure 4. As previously discussed, pockets were intimate objects. By physically exposing such intimacy, the bag
Figure 4 ”Reticule”, French, 1801
became a rebellious statement in which women were expressing their sexuality. Carrying the handbag was perceived as if the woman was lifting up her skirt and revealing her undergarments to the public . Thus, the bag suggested a risqué and promiscuous attitude, which was revolutionary for women at the time. Before, women were subdued and submissive; now, women were becoming more active and independent, and expressed this shift symbolically through the placement of their bag. The bag was revolutionary, as it released women from the home and allowed for subdued, but radical sexual expression. It thus aided in the emancipation of women for it became a revolutionary message in itself. That is not to say the bag was unanimously popular: in fact, the bag had many critics and was often mocked in newspapers . For example, these new bags were called “reticules” after the Latin word “reticulum” meaning net . However, it did not take long for men to connect “reticule” with “ridicule” meaning ridiculous in French. The reticule then started to evolve into new forms, most notably the chatelaine during the middle of the 19th century. With the industrial revolution and the advancement of metalworking, bags began to have metal frames. As illustrated in Figure 5, bags now have a fabric shell with a metal closure
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Figure 5 “Bag,” American, 1870
and fastener at the top. This kind of bag was to be attached to the waist of women’s skirts and hang off the chain, allowing women’s hands to be free to work. The chatelaine is therefore a feminist object for it granted women mobility and the possibility to work in new industries, such as the textile mills and garment factories. Thus, wearing the chatelaine became a semiotic object of the new independent working woman, demonstrating the dual relationship between the handbag and women’s liberation. As industry and technology progressed further into the late 19th and early 20th century, train travel became ubiquitous to society, not only as a mode of transportation, but
also as an activity of pleasure. Newly wealthy families began to travel across the country in both long and short distance journeys. When traveling shorter distances, there was no need for multiple large trunks, but instead women needed large carry-on bags. This necessity created the birth of the carpetbag. These durable, metal-framed bags were made out of scrap carpet materials hence their name ( see Figure 6).The carpetbag was key in women’s liberation as they allowed for women to travel and subsequently be seen in public to the point where it became normal and even expected. In addition to rail expansion, the industrial revolution created new industries, such as the retail industry with its department stores. Their target audience was women who shopped for the family as a daily activity, as well as women of a new class of society who shopped for recreation. This new responsibility and leisure created the need for larger and sturdier handbags that could carry individual belongings for running errands. These bags evolved and combined elements from the chatelaine and the carpetbag. Handbags featured ergonomic handles and became larger and more durable . The mesh bag in Figure 7 illustrates the new design, which was inspired by military armor with a metal chain exterior. The military reference transformed women’s handbags to be more masculine and stronger. This association with strength demonstrates the social climate of that time, where women began to fight for their rights, specifically the right of suffrage. By displaying and associating with a masculine design, women were making a statement that expressed their 83
desire for equality with men. Soon across western societies, women’s suffrage was granted. This radical transformation allowed women to be seen as productive members of society. Women became more independent as they took up more jobs and partook in pleasurable leisure activities. With these new freedoms came new bags that suited different functions for women. For example at work, a woman might have carried a briefcase illustrated in Figure 8, while during the weekend she may have carried a smaller mesh bag.
The transformation of the handbag through time demonstrates the increasing emancipation of women as it expresses their new freedoms and possibilities. The handbag has evolved from simple jute weaved baskets to now an entire industry featuring a plethora of shapes, colors, sizes and forms. Up to now, the handbag has been a symbolic item and a manifestation of women’s increasing freedoms. In the past, the handbag revered sexual expression as well as functionality and the possibility of new activ-
“Carpetbag”, American, 1865
”Purse”, American, 1896
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ities and freedoms. Today, bags still represent job status and independent wealth, but there is a shift occurring. Supported by today’s popular feminist movements, women strive to be equal to men and no longer wish to carry and schlep their handbags everywhere they go. This translates into modern fashion designs for women who desire pockets in all their clothing to store their belongings. In addition, the change in demand from a pure aesthetic design to a more functional design,
which allows total mobility, has created the desire for bags that attach to the waist, similar to the chatelaine. This has spurred the idea of a clip to the back of a handbag which can be fastened onto the top of a woman’s bottom. This new device is progressive in that it allows women to preserve the status and symbolism current handbags denote while improving functionality. Collectively, handbags continue to be closely connected to the liberation of women, as they are the public and symbolic expression of new cultural attitudes and freedoms.
”Bag”, Canadian, 1870s
REDRESSING LADY LIBERTY: SARTORIAL BORDER CROSSING IN TRUMP’S AMERICA Kalina Yingnan Deng Borders and boundaries exist in fashion and in our everyday lives in visible and invisible ways, symbolically and socially. Unpacking the reference points of fashion boundaries (“in” vs. “out,” “contemporary” vs. “vintage”) is not a 86
novel endeavor in fashion studies. Scholars from Thorstein Veblen to Dick Hebdige to Aurélie van de Peer have been preoccupied with the fervent dressing, addressing, and redressing of the boundaries of class, subculture,
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and time, respectively, in what Carol Tulloch calls the “style-fashion-dress system .” However, the concept of the boundary itself, along with the limits thereof and the opportunities for transgressing them, has not been investigated in fashion studies. Adopting political theorists Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson’s approach for theorizing “the border as method ,” I uphold that theorizing about the idea of borders can elicit nuanced truths about the interplay of the properties of borders, the mechanisms that maintain them, and the opportunities for membership or, administratively speaking, citizenship. In that people are wearers of fashion, they are fashion subjects. Some may even be granted full fashion citizenship. By illustrating the gender(ed) boundaries that fashion subjects can transgress in Trump’s America, I argue that the existence of boundaries, the transgressions thereof, and the narratives of these border crossings are necessary for fashion activism and celebration. Generally, borders are understood as constructed physical structures that have social implications. In the stylefashion-dress system, however, borders are socially and symbolically inscribed. In their 2002 social sciences litera-
ture review on the study of boundaries, sociologists Michèle Lamont and Virág Molnár provided helpful differentiation between social boundaries, “objectified forms of social differences manifested in unequal access to and unequal distribution of resources (material and nonmaterial) and social opportunities,” and symbolic boundaries, “conceptual distinctions made by social actors to categorize objects, people, practices, and even time and space .” Furthermore, they affirm that symbolic boundaries can arise from or be mapped onto physical, geographic borders, viz. past de jure segregation, and can also naturalize into social boundaries, viz. present day de facto discrimination. In fashion, symbolic boundaries undergirded by systemic patriarchy has acclimatized into classed socializations and racialized norms of gender appropriateness. Most notably, critical theorist Judith Butler has evolved philosopher Simone de Beauvoir’s thesis from that females become women to that such becoming occurs through rehearsals and reprisals of appropriate cisgender presentations . Leading up to the inauguration of Donald Trump, we the people have lauded several advances in the crossing of gender(ed) boundaries in the style-fashion-dress system. CoverGirl announced that seventeen-year-old makeup artist James Charles will be the brand’s first cover boy. Jaden Smith starred in Louis Vuitton’s womenswear campaign, and rapper Young Thug appeared in dresses on the cover of his latest album as well as of many industry publications such as Dazed . Body positive model 87
Ashley Graham landed a Sports Illustrated cover and co-created a Barbie doll with her famous curves and thighs that touched . Gucci, Burberry, and Tom Ford among other design houses unprecedentedly merged their menswear and womenswear onto the same runway show . And lastly, the decades-old sartorial contentions over Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits was reprised with verbose jingoism in the tumult of the 2016 presidential election. But why are transgressions of gender(ed) boundaries in the style-fashion-dress system so powerful and thus celebrated? Extending Carol Tulloch’s stylefashion-dress system articulation, cultural theorist Susan Kaiser emphasizes the theoretical import in analyzing elements as related constituents of a whole as well as individual parts. Kaiser also claims that inquiries in fashion must be approached not from an “either/or” perspective, but rather from a “both/and” perspective . Though the “both/ and” approach allows more nuanced considerations of issues in the style-fashion-dress system, I assert that there is also utility and necessity to using the “either/ or” approach. In fact, mapping political theorist Wendy Brown’s idea of “wounded attachment” in the socio-political sphere to the style-fashion-dress system, marginalized fashion subjects must make such binary arguments because of the “either/or” nature of citizenship, e.g. woman 88
not man. Moreover, the degree to which fashion subjects can make claims to their identity is the primary (or the only) method by which they can ultimately make claims against the style-fashiondress system, e.g. because I am a woman and not a man, I am victimized for my “slutty” dress. In other words, marginalized fashion subjects must strategically make claims of discrimination to the style-fashion-dress system vis-avis the overdetermined, non-intersectional binaries that broadly excludes them at the border. Therefore, in some ways, it is the distinction of these existing boundaries and narrative of their transgressions that have provided fodder for internet virality and celebration. It is because gender(ed) boundaries exist that having a cover boy for CoverGirl or showing males in womenswear is so exciting. It is because constructions of beauty exist that deviations from the norm is subversive. It is because the psychopolitics of accessing power for women is still entangled with anxiety of becoming manly that choosing a bold pantsuit over a restrictive skirt suit still induces histrionics in the 21st century. Yet, by regaling in the narratives of sartorial triumph and dexterous navigation from one bounded gender(ed) dominion to the other, these fashion subjects transform into heroes and heroines before us. In an ironic way, these social and symbolic boundaries exist in the stylefashion-dress system due to its
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embeddedness in the patriarchal superstructure. But it is also by transgressing and therefore affirming the existence of these boundaries that we can uplift and celebrate the brave ones who cross them. Perhaps, if gender(ed) barriers could be broken down, then how would we articulate such singular, celebratory narratives? In other words, if the status quo were that everyone is a full fashion citizen with every sartorial right to dress as he or she pleases, how could we extol the monomyth, or hero’s journey , of breaking the known gender prescriptions, facing the unknown tides of gender fluidity, and circling back to home as a truer actualized self with all its accoutrements? Apropos to the global women’s marches in protest of Trump’s inauguration, the throngs of pink “pussy hats” have garnered widespread media attention and celebration of a powerful democratic moment. Pink is a color chosen to represent women as distinct, even opposite, from men. The “pussy hat” is donned by men and women alike in solidarity of this movement. We the people recognize this movement’s power in terms of the existing gender binaries within the patriarchal superstructure that equates women with pink
and vaginas. Yet, it is also the same superstructure that begs critical critique of the transgender, queer, and persons of color voices left behind in this socially and symbolically circumscribed liberation. Borders, border crossing, critical critique, and celebration are tightly bound together in the same discursive loop. We cross boundaries to be able to celebrate the small and big wins. Yet, it is also the same boundaries that fence others out and dilute such token advances.
REFERENCES AND CREDITS COVER Photo by Gahee Lim CELEBRATION À LA MODE: FASHION IN ACADEMIA Photo by Nathaniel Dafydd Beard, Contemporary Books and Journals on Fashion Thinking, 2017.  Valerie Steele, “The F-Word,” Lingua Franca, 1991, http://www.wiu.edu/ users/mfbhl/180/steele.htm (accessed 6th January 2017).  Elizabeth Wilson, Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity, (London: Virago Press Ltd,1985).  Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 7. A FEMINIST MOMENT  Videostuf, “Mariah Carey Needs a Moment,” Youtube.com, 27 July 2011; [accessed 10 December 2016].  In her seminal work Gender Trouble, Butler explains that drag should not be understood simply as men performing as women. Rather, drag reveals that gender in and of itself is a performance. We all dress up and play the parts to which we are assigned. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. 10th Anniversary Edition, (London and New York, 1999).  Pamela Robertson, Guilty Pleasures: Feminist Camp from Mae West to Madonna, (Durham and London, 1996), 6. SEAMSTRESS LUXE  Karl Marx, “Capital, Volume I, (1867).  Peter Stallybrass, “Marx’s Coat,” in Border Fetishisms, Spyer, ed. (London: Routledge, 1998), 86.  Ibid.  Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, (1867).  Frederique Tcheng, Dior and I, directed by Frederique Tcheng, Paris: CIM Productions (2014).  Ibid.  Ibid.  Ibid.  Ibid.  Angela McRobbie, British fashion design: rag trade or image industry? (Routledge, 2003). FASHION MAHILA Illustration by Arti Sandhu, Moncler Gamme Rouge (Spring Summer 2016) dress with peach bra and striped Patiala salwar. Pen, pencil, and collage on paper. CELEBRATING ILLNESS THROUGH DESIGN Images courtesy of Ayida Solé. 90
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EMBROIDERED IDENTITY: A PALESTINIAN STORY OF MEMORY AND SPACE Images courtesy of Mohammad Hammad. IN DEFENSE OF COUPLES’ WEAR  Judy Park, “Couples’ Wear in Korea: Expression of Relationship Status and Identity through Fashion.” In The Design Journal, 16:1 (2013), 52.  Park, “Couples’ Wear,” 64.  Ibid., 55.  Joanne Entwistle. “Fashion and the Fleshy Body: Dress as Embodied Practice.” In Fashion Theory, 4:3 (2000), 334.  Entwistle, “Fashion and the Fleshy Body,” 335.  Philip Blumstein and Peter Kollock, “Personal Relationships.” In Annual Review of Sociology, 14 (1988), 480.  Stephen Worchel and Hank Rothgerber, Eric Anthony Day, Darren Hart, and John Butemeyer. “Social identity and individual productivity within groups.” In British Journal of Social Psychology 37:4 (1998), 389.  Entwistle, “Fashion and the Fleshy Body,” 289.  Paul Hodkinson, “Four Indicators of (Sub)cultural Substance.” In Goth Identity, Style and Subculture. (London: Berg Publishers, 2002), 31.  Park, “Couples’ Wear,” 61.  Ibid., 62.  Ibid.  Blumstein and Kollock, “Personal Relationships,” 480. FASHION STEREOTYPES Images courtesy of Matthew Cook. LET’S HAVE A BLACK CELEBRATION: THE OCCULT YOGA OF HEALTH GOTH  E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, (Fifty Shades Trilogy) (New York: Vintage Books, 2011)  Meirav Devash, “Health Goth: When Darkness and Gym Rats Meet,” The New York Times, December 10, 2014, available at: https://www.nytimes. com/2014/12/11/fashion/health-goth-when-darkness-and-gym-rats-meet. html?_r=0.  Stephen Flowers, Lords of the Left-Hand Path: Forbidden Practices and Spiritual Heresies, (Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2012).  Elizabeth Wilson, “Magic fashion,” In Fashion Theory 8.4, (2004), 375-385.  Flowers, Lords of the Left-Hand Path.  Malcolm Barnard, Fashion Theory: An Introduction, (New York: Routledge, 2014) 199.  Flowers, Lords of the Left-Hand Path, 220.  Allison Davis, “Introducing Health Goth, a New Lifestyle Trend”, NY Mag/ TheCut, Oct 22, 2014, available at: http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/10/faq-doyou-know-what-health-goth-means.html.  Flowers, Lords of the Left-Hand Path, xxi. FASHIONING THE FILM: TOM FORD AS MARKETEER, OR INTERDISCIPLIN91
ARY STORYTELLER?  Hampus Hagman, “The Monochromatic Power of the White Shirt,” The Journal of Sartorial Matters. Vestoj, April 2013, 22.  Malcolm Barnard, Fashion as Communication. (New York: Routledge, 2002), 25  Pamela Church-Gibson, Fashion and Celebrity Culture. (London: Berg, 2012).  Church-Gibson, Fashion and Celebrity Culture, 96-102.  Ibid. THE INFLUENCE OF COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY ON OUR LIVES  Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. (New York: Penguin Press, 2015).  Henrietta Thompson, Phone Book: The Ultimate Guide to the Cell Phone Phenomenon. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2005), 8. GRACE: AN INCLUSIVE FASHION COLLECTION  L. H. V. van der Woude, S. de Groot, & T. W. J. Janssen, (2006). “Manual wheelchairs: Research and innovation in rehabilitation, sports, daily life and health.” Medical Engineering and Physics, 28(9), 905-915. doi:10.1016/j. medengphy.2005.12.001.  V. Paquet, & D. Feathers, (2004). “An anthropometric study of manual and powered wheelchair users.” In International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 33(3), 191-204. doi:10.1016/j.ergon.2003.10.003; A. McCormick, M. Brien, J. Plourde, E. Wood, P. Rosenbaum, & J. McLean, (2007). “Stability of the gross motor function classification system in adults with cerebral palsy.” Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 49(4), 265-269. doi:10.1111/j.14698749.2007.00265.x; S. M. Tweedy, & Y. C. Vanlandewijck, (2011). “International paralympic committee position stand-background and scientific principles of classification in paralympic sport.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45(4), 259-269. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2009.065060.  Y. Wang, D. Wu, M. Zhao, & J. Li, (2014). “Evaluation on an ergonomic design of functional clothing for wheelchair users.” Applied Ergonomics, 45(3), 550-555. doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2013.07.010.  J. M. Lamb, (2001). “Disability and the social importance of appearance.” Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 19(3), 134-143.  M. Thorén, (1996). “Systems approach to clothing for disabled users. why is it difficult for disabled users to find suitable clothing.” Applied Ergonomics, 27(6), 389-396. doi:10.1016/S0003-6870(96)00029-4.  H. J. Chang, N. Hodges, & J. Yurchisin, (2014). “Consumers with disabilities: A qualitative exploration of clothing selection and use among female college students.” Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 32(1), 34-48. doi:10.1177/0887302X13513325.  R. Weiss Chase and M. Dolores Quinn, (1990) Simplicity’s design without limits. Designing and sewing for special needs, Simplicity Patterns Co.  Ibid.  Ibid.  L. Vonk, Virtual Sizing. (2017) forthcoming.  Christopher Frayling, “Research in Art and Design.” Royal College of Art Research papers, vol 1 nr 1, (1993). 92
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 PhD, Saxion University of Applied Sciences  Vonk a.o., Virtual Sizing; Chase and Quinn, Simplicity’s design without limits, 3.  Chase and Quinn, Simplicity’s design without limits, 3.  L. Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen. Oxford Journals, (1975),16.  A. Rudolf, A. Cupar, T. Kozar, & Z. Stjepanovic, (2015). “Study regarding the virtual prototyping of garments for paraplegics.” Fibers and Polymers, 16(5), 1177-1192. doi:10.1007/s12221-015-1177-4.  Developed by I. Petcu PhD, Saxion University of Applied Sciences.  Chang, Hodges, & Yurchisin, “Consumers with disabilities.” T-SHIRT: A SARTORIAL OBJECT AS A CELEBRATION OF CULTURAL BECOMING  Russell West-Pavlov, Temporalities. Routledge 2013, 2-7.  Ibid., 3.  Joanne Entwistle, The Fashioned Body: Fashion, Dress and Modern Social History. Polity, 2000. 47-48.  Staffan Appelgren, Anna Bohlin, “Growing in Motion: The Circulation of Used Things on Second-hand Markets.” Culture Unbound, Vol.7, 2015. 159.  Betsy Cullum-Swan and Peter K. Manning, “What is a t-shirt? Codes, chronotypes, and everyday objects.” In The Socialness of Things : Essays on the Socio-Semiotics of Objects, ed. by Riggins, Stephen Harold. (Berlin : De Gruyter Mouton, 1994), 419.  Ibid., 421.  Barbara Vinken, Fashion Zeitgeist. (Berg, 2005).  Ibid., 257.  Elizabeth Wilson, Cultural Passions: Fans, Aesthetes and Tarot Readers, (I.B.Tauris, 2013), 96.  Jina Khayyer, “Lotta Volkova: ‘There Are No Subcultures Anymore. It’s About The Remix.’” 032c, Summer 2016.  Ibid.  Cullum-Swan and Manning, 426. ENSŌ: CELEBRATING THE BODY THROUGH DESIGN Images courtesy of Dominique Dajeé Norman. MARTIN MARGIELA’S PRACTICE IN DEFENSE OF SLOW FASHION  Aurélie Van De Peer, “So Last Season: The Production of the Fashion Present in the Politics of Time,” Fashion Theory 18, no. 3 (2014): 13-14.  Margaret Maynard, “Fast Fashion and Sustainability,” In The Handbook of Fashion Studies, (London, New York: Bloomsbury, 2013).  Alison Gill, “Deconstruction Fashion: The Making of Unfinished, Decomposing and Re-assembled Clothes,” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture 2, no. 1 (1998): 25-49.  Francesca Granata,“Fitting Sources – Tailoring Methods: A Case-Study of Martin Margiela and the Temporalities of Fashion,” In: H. Jenss (ed.). Fashion Studies: Research Methods, Sites and Practices. (London and New York: Bloomsbury 2016),148.  Barbara Vinken, Fashion Zeitgeist: Trends and Cycles in the Fashion Sys93
tem, (Oxford: Berg, 2005), 61-72.  Caroline Evans, “The Golden Dustman: A critical Evaluation of the work of Martin Margiela and a review of Martin Margiela Exhibition (9/4/1615),” Fashion Theory volume 2, issue 1: 89.  Barbara Vinken, “Martin Margiela: Signs of the Time,” 145.  Caroline Evans, “The Golden Dustman: A critical Evaluation of the work of Martin Margiela and a review of Martin Margiela Exhibition (9/4/1615),” 75.  Alison Gill, “Deconstruction Fashion: The Making of Unfinished, Decomposing and Re-assembled Clothes,” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture 2, no. 1 (1998): 47- 49.  Elizabeth Wilson, Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 250.  Francesca Granata, “Deconstruction Fashion: Carnival and the Grotesque,” Journal of Design History 26, no. 2 (2012): 182.  Kaat Debo and Linda Loppa, ‘Margiela, Martin,’ In The Berg Companion to Fashion, (Oxford, New York: Berg, 2010), 498 – 500.  Ibid., 498.  Alison Gill, “Deconstruction Fashion: The Making of Unfinished, Decomposing and Re-assembled Clothes,” 41.  Annette Geiger, “Fashion and Time. The Impossibility of the Present,” In Dorothea Mink (ed.) Fashion out of Order: Disruption as a Principle. (Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Verlagsanstalt 2011), 157.  Claire Wilcox, Radical Fashion. (London: V&A Publications, 2001).  Clive Dilnot, “Ethics In Design: 10 Questions,” In Design Studies: A Reader, ed. Hazel Clark and David Brody, (Oxford: Berg 2009), 181. ABSENCE Artwork courtesy of Alexandra Oates. SUITS FOR THE IN-BETWEEN: AN INTERVIEW WITH GAHEE LIM Photos by Gahee Lim THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HANDBAG AND WOMEN’S EMANCIPATION Images courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Tom Nyamache and Ruth Nyambura, “Handbags Culture: An Evolution,” International Journal of Multidisciplinary Management Studies 2, no. 4, April 2012.  Tim Lambert, “Life in the 18th Century,” A World History Encyclopedia, 2015, accessed on December 16, 2016, http://www.localhistories.org/18thcent.html.  Caroline Cox, The Handbag: An Illustrated History, New York: Collins Design, 2007, 20.  Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, “The History of Bags & Purses | Museum of Bags & Purses,” Tassen Museum, Accessed December 08, 2016.  Ibid.  Cox, The Handbag: An Illustrated History, 23.  Ibid.  Ibid. 94
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 Ibid., 21.  Sackrider Museum, “The History of Handbags,” The Sackrider Museum of Handbags, accessed December 8, 2016.  Cox, The Handbag: An Illustrated History, 23.  Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, “The History of Bags & Purses | Museum of Bags & Purses.”  Thomas Dublin, “Women and the Early Industrial Revolution in the United States,” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, accessed December 11, 2016.  Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, “The History of Bags & Purses | Museum of Bags & Purses.”  Cox, The Handbag: An Illustrated History, 33.  Ibid., 36.  Ibid., 38. REDRESSING LADY LIBERTY: SARTORIAL BORDER CROSSING IN TRUMP’S AMERICA Illustration by Kalina Yingnan Deng.  Susan B. Kaiser, Fashion and Cultural Studies, (London, New York: Berg, 2012), 6-7.  Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Border as Method, or the Multiplication of Labor (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2013).  Michèle Lamont and Virág Molnár, “The Study of Boundaries in the Social Sciences,” in Annual Review of Sociology 28 (2002): 168.  Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and The Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990).  Valeriya Safronova, “Meet CoverGirl’s New Cover Boy,” The New York Times, October 12, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/fashion/ meet-covergirls-new-cover-boy.html.  Katie Jones, “Ashley Graham Gets Her Very Own Barbie,” Harper’s Bazaar, November 15, 2016. http://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/models/a18858/ ashley-graham-gets-her-own-barbie/  Zak Maoui, “Gucci Merges Men’s and Women’s Shows, Takes Gender Fluidity to Next Level,” Gentlemen’s Quarterly UK, April 5, 2016. http://www. gq-magazine.co.uk/article/gucci-merges-mens-womens-catwalk  Kaiser, Fashion and Cultural Studies, 2-6.  Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (New York: MJF Books, 1949).
Â© BIAS: Journal of Dress Practice 2017 ISSN 2333-7362
THANKS Parsons School Of Design School of Art & Design History & Theory Parsons MA Fashion Studies Program Dean Sarah Lawrence Dr. Francesca Granata Dr. Hazel Clark Dr. Rachel Lifter Dr. Otto von Busch Maureen Brewster
Published on May 17, 2017
Fashion + Celebration attempts to challenge the boundaries of the stereotypically celebrated fashion image, exploring the ways in which fash...