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Fashion Index 2015 Compiled by the students of MA Fashion 2015 as a result of their collective research and practice.
Contributions Mathilda Tham 08 - 11 Cyrielle AndrĂŠ 12 - 15 Janis Jefferies 16 -22 Melissa Goodfellow 23 -26 Katherine May 27 -30 Vivienne Richmond 31 -33 Elisa van Joolen 34 - 38 Angela McRobbie 39 -42 Ingrid Thompson 43 - 46 Nicola Searle 47 - 48 Anne Karine ThorbjĂ¸rnsen 49 - 52 Emma Tarlo 53 - 55 Maria Stylianou 56 - 58 Christine Checinska 59 -61 Mee Rhim Song 63 - 64 Kat Jungnickel 65 - 67 Joke Robaard 68 - 70 Fiona Connon 71 - 72 Rose Sinclair 73 - 74 MA Fashion Students 2015 Project Statements and contacts 75 - 82
Fashion is often associated with making a statement – Statement pieces, a statement outfit. Such declarations limit fashion to a fixed and definite model, presented as either true or false, in or out of fashion. Instead, what if we were to think of fashion in more fluid terms? As a conversation, a discussion, an exchange, a negotiation or even a heart to heart? It is in this more dynamic and interpretative space that new modes and processes are revealed. In the moments of conversing with openness and curiosity, is where the potential for change lies. In fashion, as in conversation, we need to continue to ask difficult questions and make space for responses that challenge the very nature of fashion as we know it. The debate will reformulate ideas, use different words, gestures and images to facilitate new understandings. We need to be good listeners, move beyond what we think we want to hear: the easy, quick and glamorous solution. In this way we can be flexible and sensitive enough to harness the potential of empathy and embrace the truly innovative voices. From this thought fashion emerges in all its glory and inherent complexity as a conversation between designer, producer and wearer and everyone and thing in between – a conversation between dress and context, body and garment, ethics and aesthetics, global and local, politics and economics. Garments become conversation pieces – instigators of an ever-evolving dialogue. The compilation of musings on fashion you are about to explore has been brought together on this premise. It places work by emerging practitioners from the MA Fashion programme alongside contributions from academics and the Goldsmiths Fashion Research Unit, celebrating the synergies and tensions between proposals for new business models, utopian manifestos and material experiments. You may find contradictions, discrepancies and missing pieces, as you most certainly will in fashion. But you will also find playfulness, optimism and a collective belief in the power and relevance of new ways of thinking, doing and being fashion, now and in the future. And so, more than a statement on what fashion is at Goldsmiths, Fashion Index 2015 collects glimpses of the breadth, depth and diversity of perspectives on fashion that cross boundaries of traditional genres, disciplines and departments – to start a conversation we hope you will join.
Total Fashions Mathilda Tham
What if we celebrated fashion in its broad, refined, unruly, fantastic and earthbound totality, or if we even nurtured total fashions? The ‘we’ refers to us collaborators of fashion, designers, makers, stylists, journalists, bloggers, trend-forecasters, educators, theorists, of course users, and more (the plants, the beasts, beings of the past, and such of our imagined futures). My work sits in a creative, optimistic and activist space between fashion, futures studies and sustainability. Specifically I strive to position fashion and sustainability as compatible and even synergistic. I use the forecast or futures scenario as a way to mobilise a range of fashion stakeholders, in different places, to co-create new legends of fashion. I do this to disturb power structures and to show alternatives to such legends or narratives that dominate. When a new legend has been articulated it has so much more potential to also form perceptions and actions than had it not been voiced. From fashion’s first encounter with sustainability (formally sometime in the late 80s and early 90s), ‘fashion and sustainability’ has emerged and matured as a field in its own right. Yet, as I see it, dominant strategies of dominant fashion companies still represent a first or, at best, a second generation of approaches. In another words, what most of them do is still to make a T-Shirt or a pair of jeans less harmful by replacing conventionally farmed cotton with organic cotton - or similar product level responses. Or, those more progressive have replaced policing of factories with dialogue, and started exploring take-back schemes - what might be termed system level responses. These developments are significant, but in light of accelerating consumption here, and in new consumer markets, they only achieve that things get worse a bit more slowly. There is no net improvement. On a more positive note one might say that we have come this far, and yet we have not even really started tapping into a core expertise of fashion designers and other key collaborators of fashion. Such expertise is often tacit; notions of rightness and wrongness, intuneness and out of tuneness, derived from immersion, abandon, enjoyment and diligence. There certainly was, and still is, too little sustainability in fashion, but there is also too little fashion in the ‘fashion and sustainability’ discourse. I run flushed, sometimes weary, mostly hopeful with my butterfly net after those elusive fragments that in complex interplay form the essence of fashion. They are delightful, accommodating, spikey and dark, often changing under
my eyes and touch. They show off me and my society at our most glorious and repugnant and vulnerable. In a series of texts I have tried to understand and convey what these fragments might mean in the context of sustainability. Does an experience of shame procrastinate engagement with sustainability in fashion, and is fashion itself a societal depository for shame? How convenient to have a remit for irresponsible behavior and indulgence – then we can feel good (or smug) about the rest of ourselves or our societies. Does a pursuit of novelty – a fashion mechanism, also characterize the sustainability discourse, as it leaves a concept of potential behind to fix on a jazzier one? Can using a framework for peace building (Lederach 1997) of four interconnected imperatives - truth, mercy, justice, peace - lead to reconciliation of ‘fashion and sustainability’. Not just cease fire, but long-term flourishing. Can the notion of a creative resilience thinking help spur understandings and enactments of fashion itself as fluid, diverse and resourceful? Can the definition of sustainability be expanded to fully embrace, and auspiciously link to environmental concerns, how fashion can contribute to gender equality? Can a very simple explanation: ‘I don’t buy a new pair of jeans because I’m cold, but because I want to make friends’ prompt a research consortium, an environmental officer, to place the fashion passionate at the core of sustainability expertise? Can a condensed scenario: ‘what if we ritualized the birth, (marriage) and deaths of our garments’ provoke agility between product, system, and paradigm levels of fashion? A beautiful section in the book Chromophobia by the artist David Batchelor, describes so well a fear of colour. To me it almost perfectly also applies to fashion. “colour is made out to be the property of some ‘foreign’ body usually the feminine, the oriental, the primitive, the infantile, the vulgar, the queer or the pathological… colour is relegated to the realm of the superficial, the supplementary, the inessential or the cosmetic… it is regarded as alien and therefore dangerous… but also as a secondary quality of experience, and thus unworthy of serious consideration. Colour is dangerous, or it is trivial, or it is both… colour is routinely excluded from the higher concerns of the Mind. It is other to the higher values of Western culture. Or perhaps culture is other to the higher values of colour. Or colour is the corruption of culture.” Batchelor 2001: 22-23 It is of course simpler and much neater to stay with the product and process approaches and even the systems approaches to sustainability in fashion. They certainly have a better fit with a dominant paradigm, a Western heritage of dichotomies, a Newtonian lego-logic, and market economy mono-logic.
Yet, I think that truly sustainable approaches to sustainability in fashion - a third generation - must take the leap to embrace fashion in its messy totality. For all collaborators of fashion – including the top brand and the experimenting teenager, this means exploring our own deeper motivations for engagement with fashion, and fundamentally the questions ‘who do we want to be? how do we want to live our lives? how do we want to be together? ‘Total fashions’ is by necessity an interdisciplinary approach – or perhaps a field in the making. It requires the criticality that takes apart and the creativity that re/generates. What could provide a better home than Goldsmiths? References: Batchelor, David. 2001. Chromophobia. London: Reaktion Books. Lederach, John Paul. 1997. Building Peace: Sustainable reconciliation in divided societies. Washington: United States Institute of Peace. Tham, Mathilda. (forthcoming). Creative Resilience Thinking in Textiles and Fashion. In Jefferies, J., Clark, H. och Wood Conroy, D. (eds.) The Handbook of Textile Culture. London/New York/Sydney: Bloomsbury. Tham, Mathilda. 2014. Futures of Futures Studies in Fashion. In Fletcher, K. and Tham, M. (eds.) Handbook for Sustainability and Fashion. London: Routledge. Tham, M. 2014. A Sustainability Manifesto for Ann-Sofie Back. In [ed] Röhsska Musee (ed.), Ann-Sofie Back: Torsten och Wanja Söderbergs pris 2014. Göteborg: Röhsska Museet. Tham, Mathilda. 2012. The Green Shades of Shame. Vestoj – The journal of Sartorial Matters. Issue 3.
Out of Fashion: Textiles in Contemporary Art Janis Jefferies
The concept of the language of fashion is by no means a new one and neither is the relationship to art and fashion. Roland Barthes, the influential French semiotician, wrote in the 1960s about the role of fashion images in “fashioning the body”. For Barthes, fashion’s influence on our ideas of the body can be thought of in different phases, for example in its purest form it can be defined through dress, followed by staging the body in its performative impulses –on the catwalk, in magazine spreads, across blogs and through travel literature and through the relationship between art and fashion. It was Barthes who suggested that, “ as a society we respond, developing dress to transform the real body and signify the idea” (Barthes 1990: 258-9). However, according to Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum in London, fashion has “swallowed design whole” and it is through design’s influence that fashion controls how we use fashion for belonging and succeeds in how we see ourselves through images (Sudjic 2012: 29). Fashion and its mediation through images are essential elements of social communication and carries several meanings for its wearer and the observers, the meaning of which is variable according to the culture and visual traditions of the society. Although communication through fashion is dependent on different cultural variables, it is an impulse towards self-expression. Within this definition, the word self (my italics) carries the weight of expression. If fashion redefines the body, in a fast paced, networked and wireless society, advanced communication technology frequently determines the ways of transmitting and receiving messages and production of cultural meanings. From this perspective, the static daily ways in which clothes are worn may not satisfy the new social needs of its wearer. Changing identity, changing moods and emotions interactively can be re shaped. “In an age where identity is increasingly fluid and multifaceted, static clothing and the unresponsive materials we wear are often insufficient means of expression” (Galbraith 2003). In Barthes’ Fashion System, (1990), and The Language of Fashion, (2006) Barthes’ semiotic approach, fashion is both a language and a text that can be read. This approach is fundamental to fashion theory as a discipline and can be applied to textiles. Whilst the aesthetic and functional qualities of textiles are related to the materials it is made from and the processes which are used to together make up its materiality, traditional textile processes and craft skills enable textiles to create new functionality as well as act “ as a motif and material in contemporary art” (2013). Textile carries not only sensory pleasure but also a political charge and a weight of critical language. It can be something that
you cannot quite put your finger, on like the tip of a needle, but it can also be as cerebral as its head. It is a broad and diffuse field, without which new modes of contemporary art practice and thinking could not flourish or survive, and which major generic forms will always flirt with, refer to and mischievously subvert. Textile, its signs, practices and languages, had already shifted when I entered the debates in the mid 1970s. Such signs underpin a number of art based fashion works as in the examples of Yinka Shonibare and Grayson Perry which I discuss in the next sections of this essay. How do you Like Me? In Dandyism and Fashion, Barthes suggests that the motivation behind one’s appearance is revealed in the detail of one’s dress. He likens the detail of an outfit to its “soul” (Barthes 2006: 65-69). Elizabeth Wilson, in her 1987 book Adorned in Dreams addresses both strands of “dandified display”: the Brummellian dandy and the peacock male. Her examination of the dandy is conducted under the rubric of “oppositional dress”, into which category she also places what she terms the dress of “blacks”. Barthes acknowledges that the dandy sets himself apart from the mainstream through his choice of dress but he places a greater emphasis on the creativity of the individual and is preoccupied with “self and self presentation”. Bricolage, is characteristic of African diaspora cultural expression as a whole. This approach takes us back to the assemblage traditions of West African masquerade. Masquerade combined music, dance, sculpture and drama in one performance. Various disciplines came together to form a single event. Similarly, assemblage in sculpture consisted of the grouping together of different objects, usually made for another purpose, to form a whole. In the textile and fashion based artwork of Yinka Shonibare, for example, “dandified display” and masquerade are constantly in play. Cultural theorist Kobena Mercer has named the experience of being between cultures and performing in each one an example of “a transnational generation of hyphenated hybrids” (Mercer 1995). Shonibare’s research on textiles uncovers the legacies of imperialism and the colonial links between Lagos and London. In 1990, Shonibare started to work with “African” fabric that he bought in the street markets and fabric shops in Brixton, an inner-city area of South East London, an area where “ethnic minorities” make up twenty percent of the population in a
fusion of fast food, world music and street markets. Shonibare uses “African” fabrics as a preferred material in all his artworks as they fundamentally challenge claims of authenticity. The fabrics have a complicated set of histories that expose the complexity and impossibility of defining them using terms such as original and authentic. This struggle is parallel to Shonibare’s own questioning of self-hood. In his work, the re importation but strategic use of “ethnic” fabric, reveals the complex web of relationships between Europeans (significantly British) and those they colonized. He shows us that the fake, similar to the original batik fabrics, derived from Indonesia, are industrially manufactured in Manchester and Holland then exported to Africa and re imported to England via fabric shops and street markets. The fabrics serve as mobile signs that refuse a final signified or final destination. In Europe these “hybrid” fabrics, and Shonibare’s use of them, evoke an exotic/erotic ‘African’ Otherness; in Africa, the fabrics operate as signs of aspiration through the allure of imported goods. In post independent Nigeria, they are a popular expression of postcolonial nationalism. As adopted by young British blacks, these textiles become symbols of Afro pride and identity. Often autobiographical, Shonibare’s work positions the artist somewhere within a shuttling process of constant translation, between colonialization and trade, origin and authenticity, self and Other, gender and ethnicity, and high and low material practices (Jefferies 1999 59-73). Furthermore, his work stands for the recent preoccupation by artists with material and craft processes. This form of art making, as both an aesthetic and conceptual strategy, has become a significantly effective means to bridge the gap between high and low, fine and applied art and craft, gender and identity. Artists, like Shonibare or Hew Locke, now take aspects of one practice or one culture, craft, insert, rearrange them to coexist, disrupt and revitalise the other. They are fascinated by and critical of hybridity. Their practice is interrogative, and mimetic, -through explorations of hybridity, they also reflect its contradictions and tensions back to their audiences. In Documenta Xl, Shonibare re-staged a “grand tour” scene; in his piece Gallantry and Criminal Conversation (2002). In the Eighteenth century, the grand tour was a common rite of passage and an initiation of British aristocrats into sexually charged behavior. Various characters wear period dresses made of African fabric. They surround a horse-drawn carriage that is placed in the middle of the scene. Period dress points to the power structures of a class that transgresses that which has been traditionally high culture (silk/colonizer) and low culture (batik/colonized). Shonibare constructs two frames of refer-
ence for his audience. Firstly, the erotic African fabric is linked to the desire and transgressive behavior of his characters, and secondly, an economic exchange is cited and an example of what happened on the grand tour. As identities are re-fashioned, the dressed environment and the dressed body are restyled and presented accordingly. Or, to refer back to Mercer, as the postcolonial collided with the post-modern, hybrid cultural expressions emerged. Fleshy Obsessions Grayson Perry, on the other hand, replaced the world of the artist by the different intensities of the hobbyist or the obsessive country potter with provocative, fleshy corporeal zest; it is almost as if the graffiti sprayed under the sign for Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren’s 1970s punk sex shop in London –‘Fashion must have clothes but truth loves to go naked’- has magically come to life.  What did Grayson Perry find in his domestic space of childhood in now what we know now to be fairly tortured intimate scenarios? Very few men will admit to wearing women’s clothes so when accepting the 2003 Tate Turner prize Perry presented his well established alter ego Claire, in a satin daisy-sprigged dress embroidered with the word sissy. Perry’s mother left his abusive but passive father for a milkman when he was five; the milkman was a bully, and by 12 Perry had begun dressing up in his mother’s clothes and retreating into a fantasy world in order to survive. Perry’s ‘pots’ are canvasses for the depiction and exploration of socially relevant themes such as gender identities, dysfunctional families, violence and unrest. Nonetheless it is as a social anthropologist that Perry has entered English folklore of a different kind as his photograph of Claire in an elaborately embroidered dress posing in The Mother of All Battles wielding a machine gun, Kalashnikov rifle (1996) testifies. Perry, like Shonibare, has the general effect of a meditation on the separation between our language and the things behind (or if you prefer, the gap between signifier and signified, sign and referent). More specifically, in The Walthamstow Tapestry, first shown at the Victoria Miro Gallery, London in 2009, the semiotic device is turned to focus on the brands and brand names that make up much of our lives. Combining the influences of Malaysian batik fabrics, Eastern European folk art, and William Morris – one of Walthamstow’s most famous former residents – the monumental tapestry echoes the ‘mapping’ of the etchings as it charts the journey from birth to death. Christian symbolism is imparted by the haloed figure holding a flick-knife (‘Ford’) and the Madonna-like
central figure tearfully clutching a handbag (‘Sony’). The images and words themselves are sometimes only imaginatively connected (‘Bollinger’ as a monk meditating under a tree, with ‘Tate’ a butterfly flying above), and sometimes more didactically so (the blind lady ‘Guggenheim’ being led by her dog ‘Sothebys’, or the contemporary ship of fools containing ‘Enron’ and various banks. All this is rendered in a seemingly simple style, belied by beautiful colour and complex patterning in the detail of the work. While Perry’s relationship with fashion is by no means straightforward – he has spoken in the past of “how bleak the orgasm of purchase actually is” (Independent 2012) and his work is known to question the validity of the big brand – he appeared content as the guest artist at the London Louis Vuitton flagship store in February 2012. He designed a Vuitton trunk as shrine on display in the store’s gallery space. As in the fashion shoot images to promote the residency, Claire appears to reveal an affinity for the iconic luxury of the Vuitton bag but for the artist Perry, engaged with notions of the archive, the shrine and the wardrobe, the use of Vuitton as a medium is clever. The trunk he designed for the Vuitton project was made by the company’s craftspeople at the atelier in Asnières and his specifications. As a companion piece to his British Museum’s, The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsmen (2012), the trunk named as LVAM1’ was inspired in part by his notion of a “portable shrine” and dedicated to Alan Measles, Perry’s 50-year-old teddy bear and the star of much of his work. The trunk has a double purpose as it also acts as a vessel for one’s wardrobe and a travel case to transport Perry’s elaborate frocks for Claire. The wardrobe no longer becomes the secretive image of the place where one changes clothes but is a place rich with possibilities and invention as we fashion ourselves anew. As identities are re-fashioned, the dressed environment and the dressed body are restyled and presented accordingly. Just as individual identities are re-fashioned through the presentation of self so ideas of performance and performativity abound in the theatrical nature of contemporary textile based art installations. One such example, was the diversity of contributions in Out of Fashion: Textiles in Contemporary Art devised for the Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark in 2013 for which I wrote one of the essays to the catalogue and on which this text is based.
 For example, in 1997 Art/Fashion, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s SoHo branch, gave New York audiences a taste of the relationship between art and fashion in the twentieth century. Having seen the exhibition I can say that the chance to release visual ideas from canvas and pedestal into the free-for-all of everyday life is what once drew artists into fashion with artists and designers drawing inspiration from art. Sonia Delauney’s 1913 Simultaneous Dress, made of silk, taffeta, wool, velvet, and fur; Natalia Goncharova’s frivolous 1920 costumes for a Paris artists’ ball; Varvara Stepanova’s austere 1924 geometric worker’s uniforms; Elsa Schiaperelli’s 1937 evening coat with two mischievous profiles beaded on the back; Christo’s 1967 wedding gown (a huge bundle of white cloth wrapped in twine, towed by a naked mannequin); and Colette’s 1981 bouffant ball dress with multicoloured pastel wig -- they were all meant to be used. There were installations of seminal performance art pieces like Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman’s TV Bra for Living Sculpture (1969), and Louise Bourgeois’s costume for A Banquet/A Fashion Show of Body Parts (1978) could be seen alongside Christo 1960s packaged wedding dresses and Oliver Herring’s knitted colourless sculptures with Mylar tape from 1993. The immediate flavour of living events crackled throughout, as if the performances these fashions were created for had happened only yesterday. Great fashion plates were exemplified by, the American surrealist famous for his rayograms, who documented the intertwining of art, fashion, and high society in pre-World War II Paris.  I define bricolage as the drawing together of disparate items chosen from a wide source.  For example Grayson Perry started to exhibit successfully in the 1980s. When he won the Turner prize in 2003, his seductively but autobiographically, coiled pots confused the art and crafts worlds alike, See Grayson Perry – Guerrilla Tactics, exhibition catalogue to accompany his 2002, Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and retrospective and Tate Britain, London, the Turner Prize catalogue, 2004.  ‘Performativity’ is a term used by Judith Butler to describe a set of actions that ascribe and predetermine a set of attributes to a subject through his or her gender, age, timeframe, nationality and race.
References: Roland Barthes (1983), The Fashion System, California: University of California Press. Roland Barthes (2006) The language of fashion, trans Andy Stafford, Michael Carter, Oxford: Berg Publishers. Louisa Buck (2002), ‘The Personal Political Pots of Grayson Perry’, in Marjan Boot (Ed.), Grayson Perry – Guerilla Tactics, Amsterdam. Judith Butler (1991), Gender trouble. London: Routledge. Germano Celant (1997), Art/Fashion, USA: University of Michigan/Guggenheim, Soho. Galbraith, M. L. (2003) “Embedded Systems for Computational Fashion Design.” Masters thesis. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Media Arts and Sciences. Janis Jefferies (1995), “Textile Identity”, Textile Sismographs, Symposium fibres et textiles, essais critiques sur les textiles dans l’art. Montreal: Counseil des arts textiles du Quebec. Janis Jefferies (1999), “Dressing Down Textiles in a Victorian Philanthropists Parlour: the Work of Yinka Shonibare,” in Re-Inventing Textiles: Tradition and Innovation , ed. Sue Rowley, Winchester: Telos Art Publishing. Vol.1. Janis Jefferies (2011), 2‘Loving Attention: An outburst of craft in contemporary art’ ed. Maria Buszek, Extra/ordinary: Craft Culture and Contemporary Art, USA: Duke University Press. Ivan Kopytoff, (1986) ‘The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process’, in The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arjun Appadurai, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,. Rosalind Krauss (1979), Sculpture in the Expanded Field, Chicago: MIT Press. Grayson Perry, ‘The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman’, British Museum, London, UK February 2012 , and at Louis Vuitton, 16-20 New Bond Street, W1, London, UK, February 2012. Press Release (2013) from Out of Fashion: Textiles in Contemporary Art, Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, Kobena Mercer (1995), “Imagine All the People: Constructing Community Culturally,” Imagined Communities, A national touring exhibition organized by the Hayward Gallery and Oldham Art Gallery, United Kingdom. Catalogue published by the Arts Council of Great Britain. Elizabeth Wilson (1987), Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity, London: Virago, and Berkeley: University of California Press.
Photos: The Walthamstow Tapestry by Grayson Perry, 2009 from OUT OF FASHION Exhibition at Gl. Holtegaard, Denmark, 2013
Melissa Goodfellow The Fashion Actant The Fashion Actant is an optimist. An optimist that assimilates information in a calm and collected manner, taking in the drab and undesirable parts of the fashion industry, collating them, moving through the greenwashing, the bluewashing (and the handwashing), reflecting on their position, and moving toward the desired goal of redefining fashion. The Fashion Actant is a conscientious knowledge seeker, questioning the fashion status quo, calmly assembling alternative realities, constructing futures, distributing their theories. The Fashion Actant may appear cultish but never evangelical – they are diplomatic, not bureaucratic nor autocratic – they strive toward collaborative revolution that engages the imagination and re-instates the process of ‘thinking’. The Fashion Actant is humbly ‘present’ and desires to redefine fashion for the new century, drawing from the past to present new ways of knowing, ways of sharing knowledge, reflecting upon and inspiring action in others. The Fashion Actant is primarily a communicator, an intermediary that exists with the intent to drivechange from the micro to the macro, an active part of the fashion narrative insisting we listen and acknowledge that we are Fashion Actants too.
Katherine May The Blue Collection On the 28th of March 2015, fifteen people came together to share an indigo dye vat and stories about theirclothes. From this day a collection of garments exist bound together by colour, time, place and cooperation. During the workshop we engaged with the raw ingredients of colour, whilst making connections to our environment and to a sense of place. Different shades of blue were made from dark to light, forming a pallet that was determined by the indigo dye combining with the raw materials from which the garments were originally made. The garment histories and imagined new roles for these now blue garments were collected on note paper and pinned to the garments whilst drying in the garden. Once dry the garments were ironed, photographed, exhibited, packaged and sent by post back to each participant with a newspaper catalogue documenting each blue garment, itâ€™s story and the dye process. The Blue Collection project employs a natural indigo dye process to address conventional notions of time, labour and of materials and resources, simultaneously through this process, inviting an imaginative and sensory relationship with cloth, garments to evolve. The emphasis is placed on enjoying, sharing and relating directly to materials. The project calls for the value of a fashion collection to broaden beyond the notion one designer or brand, to instead encourage us to consider all perspectives involved in a garment (collection) genesis: the creator, the mender, the owner, the community member, the viewer, the outsider.
â€œThe world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of air, it scatters in water. Water is colourless, shallow water appears to be the colour of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper the blue. The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue of the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where your see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the colour blue.â€? Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide To Getting Lost (2005)
Dress and Poverty in Nineteenth-Century England Vivienne Richmond
The dress of the poor has rarely survived. Until very recently, clothes were expensive and, among most people, garments were mended until beyond repair, worn till they fell to pieces then cut up and used to make other items such as smaller garments, quilts and rugs. Even rags were sold, to make paper or manure. If garments that escaped this fate did not disintegrate, they were often too badly soiled to attract the interest of collectors. The clothing of the elite, better maintained, often of great value, beauty and skilful manufacture, has led to its survival in much greater quantity and made it the focus of most dress and fashion historians. But the poor have always outnumbered the elite and their clothes were equally important for the creation and expression of status and identity, individual and collective. A personâ€™s chance of employment and, therefore, the entire trajectory of his or her future life, could hang on the possession of a decent suit of clothes. Despite a dearth of extant garments, numerous other sources depict or discuss at length the dress of the poor. They include sermons and religious tracts, charity, poor law, prison and asylum reports, shop and business records, autobiographies and diaries, short stories and novels, government reports and Acts of Parliament, newspapers and magazines, instruction manuals and school curricula, paintings and photographs. Collectively they demonstrate the great significance placed on the dress of the poor by their wealthier contemporaries who viewed the clothed bodies of the poor as indicators of inner morality. But few of these sources were created by the poor themselves and their own views and voices are much harder to access. A little more common than whole garments are textile fragments created by the poor which, in conjunction with the other sources, can shed light not only on the lived experience of the relationship between poverty and dress, but also on the wider social and cultural history of the period in which they were created.
The figure above shows a fragment of calico, folded and tacked together to make a rectangle 12 cm x 8 cm, and upon which has been worked, by hand, a buttonhole and button – the latter too large to fit through the former. Beneath, a piece of paper states: Annie Sawden Standard v January 20th 1896 When elementary (roughly the equivalent of present-day primary) education became compulsory in the nineteenth century, the Education Acts set out the curricula for the state-funded schools attended by most working-class children. Plain needlework, that is the range of basic techniques needed to construct simple garments, was a compulsory and major element of the girls’ curricula, in the expectation that girls and women would make and maintain the majority of the clothing worn by the members of their families. To do so was a demonstration of ideal femininity and good housewifery. Fancy work – embroidery – was specifically forbidden in the curricula, deemed unnecessarily time-consuming and therefore wasteful for working-class children. ‘Standard v’ refers to the fifth of the sixth standards of education the curricula required a child to achieve, and be examined on, at elementary school. Plain calico is among the cheapest of cotton fabrics and, in the nineteenth-century, contentiously replaced warmer and/or harder-wearing wool and linen as the standard fabric for much working-class clothing such as shirts and shifts. The fragment
is, then, part of Annie Sawden’s fifth-standard examination entry, a practical button and buttonhole, worked on calico. As a specimen produced by the hand of a named individual, the fragment is valuable as a surviving artefact crafted by one of the millions of late-Victorian schoolgirls who are more commonly present in the historical record only collectively and anonymously. It is one tiny piece of evidence that helps to confirm that the requirements of the government’s curriculum for elementary school needlework were carried out in practice and that calico was, indeed, the ubiquitous fabric of the lower orders. It also gives an indication of the level of needlework skill attainable by a girl nearing the end of her compulsory education, as well as raising some intriguing questions – was the button supposed to fit through the buttonhole? Was the neat writing on the label written by the same hand that worked the needle? Above all, who was Annie Sawden? The fragment alone cannot provide answers, but its identification with a specific individual offers the possibility that, with the help of other sources such as census and school records, more may be learned about her life and, by extension, the lives of ‘ordinary’ Victorian girls. As a researcher and teacher there is nothing more rewarding than the realisation that my interests have sparked the enthusiasm of others and helped them to make discoveries about the past. This fragment is, then, precious to me also because it was given to me by a student. She found it in a box of assorted odds and ends, in an antique shop, soon after completing my third-year undergraduate module on poverty and dress in Victorian England. Although I had never previously seen such a sample on its own and without context, I knew immediately what it was. But the most exciting thing was that the student also knew. If she had found it six months earlier she would, by her own admission, have disregarded it as a scrap of unexceptional needlework. But now she found it replete with meaning and significance, humble evidence of much she had learned about gender roles, class relations, craft, education and economics.
Elisa van Joolen, Images: Trial Cut Pieces from 11”x17” 11”x17” is an ongoing project initiated by Elisa van Joolen that examines and challenges the fashion industry’s prevailing value systems and proposes new methods of production. The project began in 2013 with a series of conversations with representatives of various fashion brands including G-Star, O’Neill, gsus sindustries, Rockwell by Parra, Converse, moniquevanheist, and Nike. These companies then contributed by donating clothing and footwear in the form of samples, archival pieces and stock. A selection of these, complemented with pieces of second-hand and no-brand clothing have undergone a process of cutting out and reconstructing to become 11”x17” Sweaters and Invert Footwear. 11”x17” creates a network. It unites different categories of clothing and different values within fashion; an eclectic mixture of mid-market, second-hand, and high-end items. www.11x17.nl
Fashion Enterprises in Small Cities: How can they survive? Angela McRobbie
Fashion, as we know, is almost synonymous with the capriciousness of taste, with ephemerality, with an ever-accelerating pace of products and items which can now be on the rails to suit customer needs, even when the weather does not correspond with the calendar of collections traditionally tied to the ‘seasons’. Not long ago a cold summer or a warm winter meant significant losses, this is no longer unsurmountable. The vast expansion of the infrastructure of production, on a global basis, with new locations for small and large factory manufacture opening up on a weekly basis, from Vietnam to Cambodia, from Turkey to Morocco, means that the sheer capacity correlates also with a speeded-up idea of change and ‘newness’ now signalled by upmarket labels as mid-season ranges. At the lower end of the market the new temporality of fast fashion brings cheap copies of haute couture looks to (mostly) young consumers thanks to fine-tuned production, distribution and retail processes such as those developed by Zara and H&M, with a lead time of three weeks from the ‘runway’ to the high street store. Underpinning all of these significant transformations of fashion’s consumer culture is the role of IT, social media, rapid transport and distribution and of course the exponential growth of e-commerce. There is also a significant shift in the balance of power held by the fashion media. The idea of there being a few ‘fashion bibles’ such as Vogue magazine, and a few dozen serious fashion journalists writing for the quality press worldwide, has in the last 5 years been shattered by new forms of fashion writing especially blogging disrupting the rather cosy corporate field of mainstream fashion journalism. The most significant interloper, the businessoffashion.com ironically has financial investment from LVMH which permits an astounding increase in the volume of coverage given to the sector, with a much greater degree of seriousness attributed to the industry as a whole. (The BoF also acts as a filter of dissemination, distributing articles from the most influential newspapers and magazines across the world on a daily basis (under the heading of ‘the Daily Digest’). The overall brief for the BoF is to report in great detail on what is currently happening across the industry (typically profiling new CEO appointments at major companies) and to pay particular attention to ‘emerging talent’, that is to the new generation of prize-winners as well as to those recently established ‘names’ from New York and Milan to Paris, London, and Beijing. With one or two exceptions, the core copy for BoF is brand-led and top heavy with key space given over the corporate figures who are seen as future industry leaders. There are all sorts of consequences for the more local, regional and small city initiatives in fashion which are typically over-looked by this new top-down
rather than bottom-up fashion online fashion forum. Not only is little coverage given to labour issues especially in low-paid manufacturing zones, but neither is there attention given to the groundswell of critical or alternative fashion perspectives, often associated with cities like Berlin, Montreal, Portland Oregon, and Chicago, all cities where there is a thriving overlap between fashion and music production, along with other subcultural and urban-based ventures, including vintage and upcycling activities. In addition it is in locations like these that interesting job creation schemes in fashion have been set up, designed not just to tackle high unemployment but to develop ways in which fashion can have a role in local community-building, connecting it with for example, older women whose skills can be brought back into circulation by bringing them into contact with a younger generation. In these cases fashion is not just an instrument in gentrification or in the regeneration of neighbourhoods. Rather it is something which can bring a stronger signal in neighbourhoods that girls and women’s employment and, more widely, active involvement in local matters such as schools, public parks, libraries and other facilities are important, with fashion and clothing factored in to this equation, rather than consigned to some entirely different space of consumer culture. It was for all the above reasons that I was dismayed to find a leading article in BoF not long ago (16/12/2014) bewail the unexciting state of fashion design in Germany despite its place as the strongest economy in Europe. In her piece titled ‘Why Isn’t Germany a Bigger Fashion Player?’ the author complies wholly with the BoF remit which is to look for winners, up and coming brands, and for success stories at the high end or in ‘luxury’ rather than in some of the other spaces of fashion production. She mentions for example the nearly 4000 fashion businesses in Berlin, and the 800 or so designers working in the city, but emphasises instead the idea that to make it in the industry (with a few exceptions such as Adidas and Escada) the talented have to leave, and look for work in New York, London or Paris. The author also says that few important fashion journalists visit Berlin Fashion Week and that all of this accounts for the success only in the ageing middle market of companies like Gerry Weber. This is the kind of article which designers and policy-makers alike will argue can only become a self-fulfilling prophesy confirming the prejudices of the ‘big players’ so that even fewer magazine editors will bother to come to Berlin Fashion Week. (The BoF cites well over 1m readers). Not to mention that an article like this fails to contextualise fashion as part of the wider creative economy, so that the design schools and universities, and the support by local government work hand in hand to develop something that is not so much a competitor to the global
brands but rather an environment which tries to encourage young people to set up their own enterprises while also to an extent contesting the received wisdom that fashion can only be done in a handful of cities. For a start many of the young creatives cannot simply move countries and try to get a foot in the door in London, they may have children or others to care for, they may also have a genuine commitment to place and neighbourhood so that they want to be part of something local but economically viable, which nevertheless means being seen and recognised by professionals elsewhere. An article like this poses questions which are absolutely key to how future developments in the creative economy can be understood. For example in confirming the typically exclusive image of the industry, we have to ask the question as to how indeed can small or micro-enterprises in cities which are not part of the fashion globetrotting circuit succeed, with the odds so stacked against them? This applies to cities like Berlin but also right across Europe, from Aberdeen to Prague, from Glasgow to Krakow, where there are so many initiatives often backed by local government in conjunction with European Union programmes such as Youth In Action as well as national government schemes as part of various youth unemployment programmes. Staying in local, home cities such as Birmingham or Dundee in the UK (and elsewhere) is not just an issue about family responsibilities, it is also a more pressing issue as global cities like London become completely unaffordable for those who are not already on substantial corporate salaries. If the emerging model for success in fashion requires first of all being in London and then being one of the handful of hopefuls selected to be part, for example of the New Gen programme supported by the British Fashion Council and from there on having 2/3 years to energetically seek visibility and media coverage which in turn is what gets the ‘brand’ known so that eventually more lucrative offers come through the letterbox, then this applies to such a tiny sector of the population of fashion graduates (perhaps 20 per annum) as to at least surely invite the option for thinking about other models? High level industry professionals would possibly answer my queries by saying that there are many other entrance points for well-qualified graduates, especially as the sector does indeed expand. Such jobs exist at every level from working in a design capacity for H&M to joining the Zalando fast fashion team in Berlin, to making one’s way up through the ranks in fashion management for major retailers and so on. However this does not acknowledge a number of important factors. Training young people to degree and also to post-graduate level in what is often a ‘fine arts’ fashion approach should mean that these designers have the chance to develop their own practice especially in a wider con-
text where ideas and innovation are understood to be key to jobs and growth in the creative sector. If this desire also coincides with a social commitment to working to improve chances for others in a small city environment, then the winner takes all model heralded by the BoF (and supported across the sector) precludes the possibility of a wider discussion on these kinds of issues. To put it crudely, how can the chances to develop both creativity and indeed IP be available to a young person who wants to maintain their studio practice by starting their own label in a town or location which is not on the high fashion map? With this in mind we could propose that the emphasis on new business models, in conjunction with ongoing qualitative research in three cities London Berlin and Milan permits not just a close up look at how tiny enterprises are coming into being in the light of the economic crisis and recession but can also show how difficult it is to sustain this small enterprise outlook when so much is nowadays dependent on brands and on names. The Berlin designer needs to build his or her own name in order to get buyers interested and thus customers into the shops. Likewise to have any chance of a collaboration with a bigger company he or she needs to be ‘known’. All the more reason then to clarify what is entailed in working to this kind of agenda, the hours put in, the different activities undertaken, the need to move to an online sales base, the need to be part of a ‘scene’ and thus out and about and having a visibility in the clubs and bars etc. However there are at least support structures in Berlin which entail some degree of support for workspace, for sharing equipment and for co-operation in production processes on a less competitive basis than in London. Overall more attention needs to be paid to how fashion micro-enterprises can survive and grow outside the fashion global cities, and how such cities can retain a population of young people trained in these areas and committed to creating a different kind of fashion sector. Excerpt from blog post August 2015 www.create.ac.uk
Fashion’s Piracy Paradox: How does copying and lack of Intellectual Property (IP) function in the fashion sector? Nicola Searle Fashion presents a bit of a conundrum; despite relatively weak IP rights, the fashion industry flourishes. If IP is essential to encourage innovation, then how does fashion churn out new designs and trends? The answer may be copying. The fashion industry functions with changing trends which incorporate planned obsolescence. The industry needs older designs to fall out of fashion (i.e. to become aesthetically obsolete) so that demand can be generated for newer designs. According to traditional fashion theory, high-end design houses dictate fashion. Starting a trend confirms a design house’s success, creative capacity and ranking in the fashion hierarchy. The designs displayed in catwalk shows and couture lines may be loss-leaders that establish exclusivity while promoting the designer’s cheaper, higher margin lines. These designs are then inspired/copied by the high street. This copying both confirms highend design superiority (imitation is flattery) and speeds up the fashion cycle by making designs peak in popularity more quickly. In addition to trickle-down design, the industry collectively decides colours. Colour organisations collectively decide seasonal colour palettes. The benefits are many: economies of scale, increased demand from complementary goods and planned obsolescence. In this instance, the “copying” of colours is organised by industry. Fashion also borrows heavily from the past. New trends are often re-envisioned versions of older trends. So we have copying condoned in at least three cases: flowing down the fashion hierarchy (high street copying catwalk), within the industry (colour coordination) and across time. However, this culture of copying is not universally beneficial. Without the benefits of scale and status of established designers, copying can be damaging for newcomers. Smaller players are relatively more affected if their sales are impacted by copying and lack the resources to seek legal recourse. Furthermore, the market structure currently allows high-end designers a lead-time advantage.
With the advent of fast fashion, clothing “inspired by” high-end designs may reach customers before the original designs. Fast fashion may challenge the current of copying. Fashion goods enjoy some IP protection from rights including design rights, trade secrets, trademarks, patents and, to a degree, copyright. Yet, the fashion cycle may be too short to warrant investing in some forms of IP protection. Increased IP rights for the fashion industry, as have been argued in the US, are not straightforward. Determining where rights end and infringement begins is a challenge. Increased rights might interfere with the culture of copying. Restricting the trickle-down nature of design could limit the industry’s ability to generate new trends. The success of the fashion industry despite limited IP protection suggests that lead-time, networks, industry norms and other factors are more important. On the other hand, increased IP rights might protect emerging designers or force designers to innovate around existing rights. Yet two main obstacles remain. The first is that, while fashion’s paradox of copying is suggested, it has yet to be empirically tested. The theory could fall apart under scrutiny. The second is the question of a policy response. If the paradox exists and works, is there a need for intervention? On the other hand, if the paradox doesn’t exist, is there a call for an expansion of IP rights in the fashion industries? Excerpt from a blog post on IPKat (www.ipkat.com)
Anne Karine ThorbjĂ¸rnsen INTO THE FOLD A study of the aesthetic connotations of drapery through re-contextualising the football shirt and notions of the suit. Generated from the belief that drapery / draping â€“ has great potential for a re-interpretation today. Drapery because of its strong connotations to the classic and the sublime and past notions of femininity, feels timeless and in tune with contemporary dress, gender roles and femininity / masculinity
CHANCE METHODOLOGY AS A DESIGN TOOL – random, arbitrary and accidental
Photographs: Timo Wirsching
To make a garment / Take an existing piece of clothing / Take an unpicker / Choose which seams to unpick and which ones to keep attached / Unpick the chosen seams / Then take each new piece and drop it onto the floor from your own height when standing / Where each piece is touching and where the fabric folds, place a piece of tape / You are free to choose how many pieces of tape to use / Then, when all pieces are dropped, lift the new ensemble from 2 points / Tape it onto the wall / Let gravity again take control / Document the changes made by gravity / Move the piece from the wall to the body, and see what happens when 2D becomes 3D / And here you are a designer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar. A fashion take on Triztan Tzara’s ‘How to compose a poem by drawing words from a hat’
Stills Oslo Runway, August 2015
Photographs: Timo Wirsching
Dynamics of Religious Fashion Emma Tarlo
Image: Sheitel styling at Rifkaâ€™s Wig Salon in Golders Green, North London, 2015. Emma Tarlo
Viewed from the outside, religious fashion seems an oxymoron. Religion appears to speak of rules, restrictions, limitations, interiority; fashion of experimentation, exteriority and embrace of rapid change. If the former conjures up images of tradition and social conformity, the latter evokes ideas of freedom and claims to offer opportunities for individual self-expression. Yet by perceiving the institutions of religion and fashion as contradictory we fail to recognise the extent to which ideas of conformity and freedom are inherent in both, for although the mythology of fashion places high value on originality and freedom of expression, fashion practices themselves often rely strongly on social conformity. Conversely, whilst the mythology of religion places high value on social conformity and obedience to the rules, religious practitioners often find ways of interpreting the rules that are individualistic and creative. Recognition of this provides some background for understanding the proliferation and variety of religious fashions today from the hijab fashions popular amongst Muslim youth to the sheitel (wig) fashions popular amongst orthodox Jewish women.
Jewish women who cover their hair with headscarves, snoods or wigs do so because they understand hair covering to be a mitzvah (commandment) from God. Once a womanâ€™s marriage is consummated her hair is thought to become sexually charged, necessitating its covering as an act of modesty. Â The practice gains sanction through biblical references to an adulterous woman whose punishment was to have her hair exposed and unravelled and to a virtuous mother of many sons whose good fortune was attributed to the fact that not even the eves of her own home had ever seen her hair. In other words hair covering is associated with modesty, obedience and virtue whilst its expo-
sure is associated with uncontrolled sexuality and sin. But whilst hair covering is sanctioned by religion this does not exclude it from the world of fashion as a brief foray into current sheitel trends demonstrates. The choice of sheitel on offer in Jewish wig salons in London, New York and Tel Aviv has in recent years proliferated. It includes a wide variety of fashionable off-the-shelf and custom-made human hair wigs, as well as an increasing range of fun hair pieces: the i-band ( a realistic fringe of hair for disguising the hair line), the cap-wig ( a weft of hair attached to a baseball cap), the clip on pony tail and the ‘U wig’ which has a u shaped opening allowing the wearer to show their own parting and effectively disguising the fact that a woman is wearing a wig at all. Such wigs can be found in specialist shops and online stores which cater specifically to Jewish women who wish to cover in a fashionable and stylish way. Sheitels rarely cost less than $1000 each and many cost considerably more. In addition they are sent back and forth to the sheitel macher (stylist) for a variety of procedures from washing, conditioning, blow drying, dying, highlighting, low-lighting thinning, volumising, lengthening, styling and repairing - all of which add to the costs. Critics of the fashionable human hair sheitel, both Jewish and non-Jewish, often question the logic of covering hair with hair, wonder how such glamorous and expensive wigs can be modest and ask whether the emphasis on fashion has perverted the original meaning of sheitel. In doing so they fail to recognise that the sheitel owes its very existence to the dialectic tension between religious and fashion requirements. Take, for example, the moment when wigs first became popular amongst Jewish women in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Until this time they had been content to use cloth to cover their hair. What attracted them to wigs was the fact that wigs were at the height of French fashion at the time. Far from accepting wigs as a suitable form of covering, most rabbinical authorities initially opposed them, either on the grounds that they were an example of an inappropriate emulation of the ‘ways of nations’, or on the grounds that wigs could evoke the same feelings of arousal in men as women’s actual hair. That women retained their wigs in the face of rabbinical opposition is a sign of the powerful pull of fashion and of women’s capacity to negotiate religious law. Their refusal to abandon their wigs resulted in the practice of wig wearing eventually becoming institutionalised in orthodox circles.
The sheitel, like the fashion wig, has gone in and out of favour at different times. Improvements in wig technology and the proliferation of American and Israeli wig companies catering to Jewish tastes have in recent years boosted the appeal of the sheitel to religious women. They defend their choice of headwear by pointing out that the mitzvah (commandment) of head covering only says that they should cover but does not specify how. They argue that hair covering is a difficult mitzvah to follow so women should be encouraged rather than criticised for how they do it. In defence of glamorous fashion wigs they say that God is pleased when a mitzvah is performed beautifully and well. The history of the sheitel is a history in which the demands of fashion and religious law operate in a relationship of creative friction. To see fashion and religion as mutually exclusive is to miss the point.
Second Skins: Fashion, Postcoloniality and Difference or … ‘Fashion is dead, long live fashions!’ Christine Checinska What role does fashion play in the construction of racial and cultural identity and the communication of those (re)-constructions? Within world diasporas, how does the personal become the political from the point of view of fashion, from the point of view of style? How might the acknowledgement of other fashion systems impact our work as creative practitioners, critics, teachers and learners? It would be fair to say that the notion of a single fashion system has long since been discarded in favour of the acknowledgement of multiple fashion systems, largely as a result of the increasing global turn within the fashion world. Yet few texts specifically address the relationship between fashion, postcoloniality and difference, or indeed fashion, culture and race. Fashion writing is spilt between the histories of dress and fashion where race features between the lines of texts concerning non-Western dress. The politics of race is absent. Instead an emphasis is placed on the “exotic” aesthetic quality of the dress of the other (Breward, (2004), Howell, (1991, 2000), Chenoune, (1994), and McDowell, (1997)) Within fashion theory, the inquiry is biased towards the semiotic analysis of the styles of dress favoured by “black” youth subcultures (Hebdige, (1979), McRobbie, (1989)) or the dress of “ethnic” communities or vanishing tribes (Eicher, (1995), Kaiser, (1998)). There is also an emphasis on historical description as opposed to theoretical analysis. From an English perspective, often there is a tendency to separate the dress of world diasporas from that of the English. The circulation and exchange of ideas between different cultures is left unacknowledged, unless it is the influence of “black” culture on “white” youth subculture or street fashion, such as in Hebdige, (1979). As a result the analysis is narrow in its focus. Although, within the public space here in the West, it is expected that the body must be dressed appropriately, there are few texts that do not separate dress from the body. Fashion history’s focus is the analysis of the detail of a garment. The cultural studies approach is steered towards semiotic analysis where dress is read as a text, but the individual bodies that inhabit particular styles of dress are overlooked. Semiotic approaches can also ignore the social aspects of the everyday practice of dress. Individual subconscious is a chief concern of those writing from a social psychology perspective. This artificial split between fashion and dress and the body, stems, not only from the positioning of each within separate academic disciplines, but also from the favouring of the cerebral and the rational, at the expense of the corporeal, the material and the sensual within Western philosophical traditions.
Historically, non-Western dress has primarily been the remit of anthropology, for instance, ethnographic analyses of ethnic communities or vanishing tribes considered to be outside the fashion system. The charting of the collective social meanings of dress took priority. However, anthropologists working within contemporary material culture studies actively weave together preoccupations of materiality and society. This move within material culture studies towards foregrounding the materiality of social relations, that is, the materiality of the body, and the materiality of dress, its fibre, colour, pattern and form, potentially moves the study of fashion beyond semiotic and ethnographic analysis. Similarly, through addressing the materiality of cosmology, or the fabric and form of clothing together with the styling of those clothes as the means by which the relationship with other people and with God/gods is mediated, contemporary material culture studies expresses an interconnectivity that parallels the interconnectivity that I, for example, have found in my own work with African-diaspora cultural expressions. Nevertheless, postcoloniality, difference and the politics of race are not fully addressed in these current tendencies. Malcolm Barnard in Fashion as Communication, (Routledge, 1996) reminds us that, Fashion and clothing are used, not only to constitute and coma position in (that) social order, but also to challenge and conmunicate test positions of relative power within it. And, that the dressing or fashioning of the body is, at a subconscious and conscious level, powered by the tension between, “adaption to society and individual departure from its demands.” This points to the potential of fashion to ‘speak’. It highlights the potential for fashion to become a way of speaking about oneself and one’s place in the world. It introduces the notion of fashion as a form of everyday protest, i.e. a means through which to challenge societies constraints rooted in racial and cultural bias. But if, as Ferdinand de Saussure suggested one cannot truly know what ‘day’ is until we know what ‘night’ is. I refer to his assertion that whilst meaning belongs to the sign, there are two forms of meaning; one belongs to the sign taken individually, one arises from the contrast between the signs. Hence ‘day’ and ‘night’ are in opposition yet they are inextricably linked; dependant on one another, they cannot easily be pulled apart. And as Stuart Hall stated, the diaspora experience is reflected in the archetypal late-modern condition:
Postcoloniaity, in a curious way, prepared one to live in a ‘postmodern’ or a diasporic relationship to identity … the classic postmodern experience turns out to be the diasporic experience. There is a level on which we ignore other fashion systems at our peril. There is an argument for the inclusion of the examination of the relationship between fashion, postcoloniality and difference within the fashion curriculum. There is an argument for the inclusion of the examination of the relationship between fashion, culture and race. But to whom are we referring to when we the term ‘other’? For that matter, who are the ‘we’ in ‘to whom are we referring’? Homi Bhabha in The Location of Culture (Routledge, 1994) taught us to rethink the idea of culture as singular and pure. In Bhabha’s eyes all cultures are complex rather than one dimensional; all cultures are intermingled and multi-facetted. Reading this against Barnard’s observations above, might we think of the contemporary fashion world as a series of intermingled fashion systems? Acknowledging the presence of multiple intermingled fashion systems, ultimately calls us to examine our own cultural and racial histories and how they might be bought to bear on our creative work as practitioners, critics, teachers and learners. It calls us to embrace reflexive thinking. It leads us to question what is being presented as the norm, yet is often from a peculiarly narrow perspective where certain voices and viewpoints are continually left out. The challenge is to address not only the cultural exchanges that have occurred throughout the colonial and postcolonial periods but also with today’s increasing globalisation when thinking about contemporary fashions. Setting these fashions into the wider context of material culture studies allows us to do this. To draw on Daniel Miller, ‘things make us as much as we make things’. In this way fashion, or should I say fashion systems provides us with a catalyst for critical thinking about difference. And paradoxically one begins to think critically about oneself and ones own creative practice.
Mee Rhim Song Action Towards Post-Fashion unpick a garment. lay out the patterns of the garment on a table. put the patterns together intuitively and pin them to position. sew the patterns together by hand, and avoid doing it perfectly. exclude all the fastenings, such as buttons and zips. exclude overlocked selvedges. allow the fabric to fray and let it easily deconstruct. Post-fashion is made to be easily taken apart and modified, so, the wearer engages with their clothes to continue to wear them. A user/wearer/consumer of clothes becomes a maker/wayfarer who gets involved in the circular flow of materiality. â€œTo know things you have to grow into them, and let them grow in you, so that they become a part of who you are.â€? Tim Ingold (2014)
Bikes & Bloomers: Researching (& making) women’s convertible cycle wear in late C19th. Victorian Britain Kat Jungnickel Bikes & Bloomers explores the socio-materiality of cycle wear in legitimising a new mobile presence for women in outdoor public space and carving out new forms of gendered citizenship in late nineteenth century Britain. It takes as its focus the ways in which some women creatively responded to these challenges through their clothing, hacking at convention roles and representations in public and attempting to carve out new ways in which women could move in and through public space. Victorians enthusiastically took to the bicycle. Yet women had to deal with many social, political and material challenges to their freedom of movement. Cycling in everyday dress was dangerous as it caught in the wheels. But it wasn’t always safer to dress like a cyclist, as onlookers could hurl abuse and stone! Parts of society were threatened by this visual symbol of women carving out new feminine modes of mobility in public space – some saw this as interfering with their ‘natural role’ at home. This research explores how some cyclists creatively protested against restrictive ideas of how a woman should act and move in public through their clothing, designing convertible costumes that enabled the wearer to change when needed. The interdisciplinary team explores how the bike, bloomer (and attending ideas of Rational Dress) and the suffrage movement in late C19th Britain helped women carve out new gendered forms of mobile citizenship. Cycle wear did not exist at this time, so enthusiastic women had to make it themselves. Some women not only designed but also patented their inventions. Drawing on archival research and following the instructions provided by these inventors we have made a collection of Victorian convertible cycling garments. New ideas: We are interested in what we can learn from making the garments that cannot be discerned from reading the patents. Making these garments enables us to materially think through the construction via theoretical and conceptual links to and between archive findings about how and why such inventions were necessary. New relationships: Patents are ‘a licence conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention’. Although the designers controlled copyright for 20years, after this
period their inventions became available to public use. The nature of a patent is such that the language and drawings must enable anyone knowledgeable in the art of sewing to reproduce these garments. Inventors had a responsibility to future users. We are such users. Making these garments creates a link between the inventors and users, the past and present. Garments to touch and use: There aren’t many of these garments around any more. We have only found a few material examples of Victorian cycle wear in UK museums/galleries and clearly what does exist is fragile. There is no chance of gaining a sense of what these garments might feel like on the body and in action – even if there was a remote chance that curators would let us try things on, they probably would not let us cycle away in something 130 years. Moreover, they are all so very small; there is actually very little chance that we would even fit into them). So, by re-making our own versions we get a chance to experience these unique garments in rich, hands-on practice. Collaboration: Each garment requires a range of skills to translate two-dimensional patents and patterns into three-dimensional material garments. Just as in the past, these kinds of objects could not be made by one person alone, similarly we are collaborating with a range of contemporary practitioners from pattern cutter to weaver, and artist and filmmaker to help produce the finished pieces. Documenting the process, the mistakes, mess, unexpected insights, tangents and happenings form part of each story. Story telling devices: These garments present ideas generated in the research in new ways. We think about what making, dressing up and performing does as a form of knowledge production and transmission in comparison to say giving a PowerPoint presentation or talk. Excerpt from Bikes & Bloomers Research Blog www.bikesandbloomers.com
Image: The Bygrave convertible skirt â€“ Patent #17,145 Submitted on 1st November 1885 and Â accepted on 6th December 1895
TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES! Joke Robaard
“There is no law that is not inscribed on bodies. Every law has a hold on the body. (...) Through all sorts of initiations (in rituals, at school etc..), it transforms them into tables of the law, into living tableaux of rules and customs, into actors in the drama organized by a social order”. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (1984) When you are planning to study ‘Fashion’ you still don’t know exactly what will take place under this vast illustrious umbrella. There is a background of pure praxis in Fashion studies and there is an immense reflection part. Next to the old motivations (protection, modesty, ornamentation) it is still hard to point out how this reflection is influencing and broadening the pure praxis of Fashion. Fashion seems to be present all the time, every season and therefore it implies that there is no problematic, discussion or disruption taking place in this discipline. In the majestic domain of architecture it seems as if contemporary problematics emerge more strongly, they demonstrate more quickly the consequence of the rapidly changing economics and corporate building strategies. Architect and writer Edwin Heathcote argues that at the moment architecture is struck by lack of work and not enough reflection “real inspiration can emerge from this crisis”. He even thinks that an “intriguing trend has emerged from these events: architects frustrated by a lack of opportunity to build who, rather than retreating into drawings or text, have formed multidisciplinary practices to build their designs themselves.” Just recently the collective Assemble were nominated for the Turner prize 2015, a clear sign of change: this year architects are nominees instead of visual artists. A real domain shift. Could this shift in the practice of architects also affect the multi-layered discipline of Fashion? If ‘in’ or ‘out’ of Fashion has become an obscure and unwanted ingredient in fashion vocabulary, and if ‘time’ is ‘out of time’, there will indeed be more time to reflect. Just take one traditional element away and you will find different practices. If you skip ‘image’ and you infuse ‘text’ with its special properties, you create something not new, but daunting. To give an example: during political summits world leaders are always willing to take off their uniform clothes. They exchange their nerve-wrecking uniform suits with the national costume of the country that hosts the conference. You will see Putin, Obama and others in bright blue a-symmetrical Chinese tunics or wonderful ‘guayeberas’, white shirts with long sleeves and beautiful embroidery during the APEC conference in Cancun (Mexico, 2002) This dressing-up ritual takes place during every summit, but what makes them change clothes so easily? To pretend what? The
so called ‘photo moment’ (a term coined by Richard Nixon) makes the reader make-believe that there is a general agreement to celebrate and look alike through wearing national folklore garments, a absolute ‘show don’t tell method’ which only takes a few minutes to organize and enact itself. Together these so called ‘photo moments’ create the shortest catwalk ever, the only thing that is missing is the movement. In politics leaders dress up, but they do talk, while on real catwalks, fashion catwalks, models don’t have a dialogue, there is no narrative. It is ‘just a blank procession of costumes moving through space, on bodies, with no tangible destination. In the late 20th century, we call this mute drama a fashion show.’ It was Bethan Cole, eminent British writer who publishes in I-D, Vogue a.o. who wrote in 1999 that a fashion show can be seen as “a reduction to its skeletal elements, a series of mannered movements. A ripple of fantastical fabric. A parade of fetishized humanity”. On a catwalk, ‘the body’ as Arthur and Marilouise Kroker observe in Panic Encyclopaedia, is “the inscribed surface of events. And these events compel us to watch, like nothing else”. If you skip at any moment, essential parts of a strong practice, you will reverse its meaning. Instead you will focus on its parts: performance, anthropology, philosophy, craft, dancing, writing, speaking, singing, sewing. Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons cut holes in a knitted sweater in 1982 in order to make the consumer aware of the fact that textiles and garments were rapidly manufactured and losing their specific properties at that time. Last year Comme des Garçons joined Louis Vuitton for a real ‘masstige’ cooperation, in which Comme des Garçons designed a manufactured ‘hole’ in the highly archetypal Louis Vuitton bag. Unfortunately this very ‘hole’ lost its early message and became a model for todays commodities. If cutting holes can disrupt the fabric of fashion, it is also able to celebrate this fabric. If you can be aware of these tactile and textile repercussions as social and economical events, then fabric becomes the hottest design ever before it becomes fashion related. The strong practice of amateurs (weavers, knitters) influences designers, architects/artists inspire fashion designers and philosophers remind us of the contingent fabric of society. The wearers of clothes are in fact the real professionals in selecting and storing clothes in their homes, undressing before they go to sleep and throwing their underwear on a chair: ‘out of reality’. We have to find metres of whose scales are unknown in the world, draw our own schematics, getting feedback, making connections, reducing the error, trying to learn the real function... zeroing it on what calculable plot?’ Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)
2. Advertisement PRADA in Wallpaper Magazine 2002
1. The 10th annual Economic Leadersâ€™ Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Los Cabos, Mexico 2002 (Photo: AP)
Image: Notebook 1968 courtesy of Maggi Adams Quote: Interview conducted by Fiona Connon with Maggi Adams, London, 11th August 2015
“I had my first tailor-made suit when I was fifteen, it fitted me to perfection. I used to take drawings into the tailors to make sure I got exactly what I envisioned. They’d sometimes try and tell me I couldn’t have that but I was paying so I always got what I wanted.”
Textile Practices and the Social Spaces of Textiles Networks Rose Sinclair
My background is as a designer/education practitioner specialising in Textiles. My research interests are two fold. The first pathway is based on the use of CAD/CAM as a tool for creative development in the classroom. The focus is very much on the impact of new textiles technology and use of ICT in the classroom and the strategies employed by both the teacher and the learner, in applying this technology to their work. I am interested in the hybrid nature of the intersection of traditional creative practice and new technological tools, incorporating both software and hardware, and how these can be combined with exploring the material culture of textiles and how as a designer practitioner these elements can be incorporated into current explorative textiles practice. This interest has grown out of my textiles practice which initially explored the relationship between hand knitting and CAD design in knitting and the symbiotic 'textual' relationship and the inter-related tacit knowledge that is needed as you migrate between two spheres of the same area of material practice. My second pathway is evolving from my current Phd research: based on the development of Dorcas Clubs, as used by Caribbean women on arrival in the UK in the 50’s and 60’s. It is based on the notion of female ‘textile’ networks as a catalyst for social, and economic change. Using life and oral stories to tell the untold, the textiles created by these networks embody both material culture and diasporic tales. It is these textiles and the clubs that evolved, that may provide new ways of thinking about ‘networks’ and their place in textile design and innovation. My work in this area also looks at the exchange of tacit and empirical knowledge in the classroom and studio environment. My PhD research is particularly concerned with knowledge exchange in communities of practice. The over-arching research interest is how textiles networks can be enablers of textiles practice when situated within divergent communities and groups. I argue that performing a range of rituals or performative practices located within various ‘habitus’ provide the fundamental base of our existence, by providing both social order and social existence. This social order provides the basis for moving beyond class and cultural barriers, and extending the basis of practice outside the domains of its traditional context. “…theories of practice emphasise tacit and unconscious forms of knowledge and experience through which shared ways of understanding and being in the world… is what distinguishes practice and its location in the social” (Shove et al:2007;12). From this perspective the practice, I argue, creates a trajectory, which is dependent on the repeating and doing, it takes on its own identity built on a
Image: Rose Sinclair. Dorcas Stories, Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, London 2011.Â
range of complex relations and relationships. It becomes an entity where materials and knowledge co-exist. I explore these relationships through The Dorcas Club, a form of textiles network where knowledge exchange in hybrid forms takes place. Through analysis, I aim to show how textiles learning takes place outside the formal education environment as well as within new digital forms of communication and knowledge based sharing domains. A social research perspective is utilised to explore the place Dorcas clubs operate as spaces of change in the social structure of women.
MA Fashion Students 2015 Project Statements contacts
Melissa Goodfellow An exercise in reclaiming the word fashion as its literal meaning of “to make”. Through playful experimentation and analysis I intend to deconstruct the symbiosis between activism and fashion. By examining theories of revolution, happiness and the construction of power in relation to the fashion system; I found my work consistently returning to the hierarchies in fashion that run parallel to contemporary society. My work explores both archaic and game-changing elements of the fashion industry through subversive visual commentary. The result is an insightful reflection on how to move forward through the tumultuous fashion landscape. email@example.com melissagoodfellow.wordpress.com
Mee Rhim Song Post-Fashion What do our bodies know? In the space between body and objects, human intellect and nature, the ability to make and create emerges. This project identifies tacit knowledge and embodied skills as tools that allow playful interaction between hand and materials during the process of making. Using found textile and clothes as materials and hand and body as tools it unfolds different possibilities of the materials. It is a celebration of the hands’ ability to make, and a chance to think of the value this creates. In our society we value head over body, and intellect over labour. The world of fashion operates on the system of production that exploits workers and the environment, which enables the fast shift in trends and easy consumption. This project attempts to challenge the Cartesian demarcation of mind and body, which is prevalent in the hierarchy of knowledge and materials in the system of capitalism, by practicing tacit knowledge. Through hands that respond to materials, we could enter into the territory of non-sense, a different reality. Could this tell different story of binaries and demarcations in life? 76
Cyrielle Andre On Body and Clothes Let me tell you a new fashion story about the pleasure of making our beloved clothes. In the contemporary fashion system clothing is emphasised through images losing its thread with the physicality of the body. Dazzled by the glossy fashion pictures and drawn into mass consumption we started to forget how body and clothes together form the roots of fashion design. They spark productive exchanges nurturing the fashion system and connect us with one another weaving society as a whole. Here lies the power of fashion. My project is an in depth analysis of the space between body and clothes. Through collaborative workshops, image making, and writing I intend to break down the forces within the fashion system. Everything we shape shapes us in return and so I believe the clothed body to be a powerful tool to understand fashion as a mode of human togetherness. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ilaria Miniussi The Beauty of the Lost This project began with research into second-hand clothing habits and the various spaces (markets, shops, textile recycling centres) that shape our perception of these items. This led me to the question: How can I give discarded garments power again and celebrate their return to life? As a designer I can see a lost beauty in these clothes that I want to celebrate through simple and direct gestures. Celebration can mean ritual, respect, praise,Â festivity,Â fun or contemplation. This project explores the different ways in which practices of celebration might play a role in re-valuing second hand clothing, giving it a new identity and a new purpose. email@example.com hilarieminu.tumblr.com www.airalipassion.it
Nicola Hayward Dressing to be Heard This project began with a study of ‘resistance’ in and through fashion and clothing with a focus on subtle forms of fashion language, communicating without the use of words or slogans. I examined specific examples including the use of suits by demonstrators during the Occupy Wall Street protests in relation to ideas of authenticity and effectiveness. Through this the potency of the suit and its ability to indicate power and efficiency has become key to this enquiry. It led me to begin working with a prominent feminist group giving insight into how they interpret and relate to specific moments where feminism and fashion have come together. Discovering how feminism has been (mis) represented by fashion has inspired me to explore new and alternative visual interpretations of feminism that could dispel popular misconceptions and open up understandings of what contemporary feminism is really about. firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Stylianou The Fashion Image and Sartorial Identity “Women become not only the consumers of clothes, but the consumers of the meaning and promise of idealized womanhood” (Guy, Green and Banim, 2001) Through my research on fashion photography and advertising along with the psychology of women’s dressing, I developed a keen interest in the manipulative ways these images work to evoke ‘pathos’ in their observers. I used the theories of Berger, Barthes, amongst others to unpack the impact of contemporary fashion images in advertising on women’s sense of identity and self-worth. In collaboration with a photographer I created a series of images to both literally and metaphorically reveal these themes and expose the vulnerable woman that the adverts want us to become. The images urge the viewer to reflect on his/her own assumptions of the role of fashion in relation to the formation of womanhood. My research explores how women receive fashion advertising, how they actually ‘read’ its content and if they indeed become this vulnerable woman shaped by fashion aesthetics. email@example.com 78
Aoxue Miao Behind Dust Masks Dust masks are becoming more and more common on the streets of China, especially in Beijng - my hometown, which is now famous for the dirty air instead of its cultural heritage. This study is aimed at analysing the symbolic importance of dust masks in today’s society. What does it reveal that dust masks have become ‘fashion accessories’? How might fashion contribute to exposing the seriousness of pollution? firstname.lastname@example.org
Ingrid Thompson Zazz Garden This body of work documents learning how to knit, explorations of materiality, and Roland Barthes’s concept of The Neutral through knitted jumper-sculptures and an accompanying illustrated album. It embodies my on-going search for the nuance - the shimmer that catches the eye, in materials, found objects, mass-produced hilarity, commercial slippages and wacky storefronts. As a material stylist, my engagement with fashion and surfaces is epitomized by Barthes imagined rule of the Neutral, which seeks to “disseminate intelligent stuff, as though between the lines of a flat, dumb fabric”. Through the foil of fashion, I attempt to outplay the arrogance of paradigms rooted in distinct knowledge domains and practices by operating in the shadowy space between them, by means of juxtapositions, strange translations and by negotiating technical limitations. My approach to materials and making questions the sovereignty of utility in design processes with regards to creative agency and its effect on the possibility to carve out a space for experimentation and failure. In order to bring out the spellbinding thingness of things, material styling demands total freedom. email@example.com
Marie Brand Provenance Project As an art historian in the world of fast fashion I have a desire to investigate and understand the origin, migration and evolution of garments. I feel deeply committed to preserve the cultural heritage that lies within traditional textile crafts as they are being endangered and with them the livelihood of their makers. The Provenance Project is a platform to tell the cultural stories behind garments. This set of information is coded in the fabric, the cut, the pattern and the each stage along the journey of manufacture and distribution. Through individual story telling I hope to inspire people to be more conscious and critical consumers thus increasing a demand for ethical garments and creating opportunities within the competitive landscape of today’s global economy for individual artisans. I would like to invite you to join me on the path of Provenance. Along that path you will meet the patrons of the pieces - the makers. Their stories give objects a human touch and are evidence of the cultural heritage that lies within their skills. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fiona Connon The Mod Squad Struts on Through Space and Time With an interest in the relationship between spaces and the way people fashion themselves I was drawn to the iconic Bar Italia in Soho - a mod cultural hangout dating back to 1949 and remaining true to its original nature to this day. I was fascinated by its small community feeling despite being in the centre of London. Through conversations, interviews and observations I developed an understanding of the origins of the mod subculture and the spaces and environment that the movement grew out of. With no historical precedent Mod’s were able to adopt and define commodities in any way they pleased. The wide-eyed modernist, full of creativity and exploration, who had prematurely finished school with few prospects, was to construct a look that signified a cultured global citizen. If the mod way of life was a way of the post war generation to reinject optimism and positivity into their lives after being born into a country devastated by war, what is the role of subcultures today? It seems ironic that the birth of Mod in the difficult post-war period was fuelled by progressive, optimistic thinking whilst modern-day subcultures are very much reactionary responses to their disdain for the 21st century. Whilst the original Mod scene defiantly marched forward to a better future, contemporary youth-cultures tend to solemnly gaze back to the past. This raises questions of authenticity in subcultures in a contemporary context. Has social media and fast fashion put an end to subcultures such as mod? Do we still make such statements through the clothes we wear or are we just a generation of puppets? 80
Kirandeep Lall Prior to beginning the MA Fashion my perception of fashion was predominantly related to the high street and high-end fashion from a ‘western’ perspective. These thoughts were very much led by the ideals of the ‘trickle down’ fashion process, which has become a huge source of waste globally and feeds the desire for disposable fashion. My perception of fashion and my design process has broadened to understand the significance of religions, cultures and nationalities through fibers and clothing. It has come to encompass the depth and importance of fashion beyond the aesthetic and the superficial. This project is directly aimed at my younger generational immediate and extended family members, particularly those living in western societies. The work aims to communicate a narrative of our family history. It also intends to teach the importance of fashion linked with culture and rituals beyond westernised fashion, which can be bought on the high street and is changeable and often meaningless. It illustrates that the now and the future of fashion is also about the past, tradition and heritage. email@example.com kiranlall.tumblr.com Yi-Ting Wu Fashion–Space It is the human body that activates fashion spaces and garments and makes them distinct and personal. This project is an experiment in tracing the interaction between my body and clothes. Through image making I aimed to capture the gestures and process of moving in the act of dressing. This exploration expresses the personal space that my own fashion happens within: it creates a blueprint of my wardrobe. Beyond this my approach offers insights and possibilities for new understandings of the personal in the fashion industry.
Kika, Pedro Almodóvar, 1993
Mariaemanuela Messina Bodies in Project: Fashion, Cinema and Bodily Representations This research project investigates the connective threads between fashion and cinema bringing into focus the specific theme of bodily representations. This choice is motivated by my interest in the complexity of the body and its configurations as endless constructions of our subjectivities, embedded in our epoch characterized by instability, and cultural hybridizations, in which individuals are free to construct their appearances. Through a multidisciplinary research within existing fashion and film theories I attempt to scrutinise the role of fashion and dress involved in the body’s constructions and reflect on films that give visibility to the multiple representations of the body, in the socio cultural context of Western societies from postmodernity to the present. The project critically analyses a corpus of contemporary films, in which fashion and dress are relevant, in order to explain the theoretical approaches related bodily representations. firstname.lastname@example.org www.mariaemanuelamessina.com
Contributors from GOLDSMITHS:
LECTURER DESIGN DEPARTMENT Mathilda Tham is a Professor in Design at Linnaeus University, Sweden. Originally a fashion designer, today Mathilda’s work is concerned with the design of futures scenarios for new ways of engaging with fashion, the design of processes of change and shared learning experiences, and the design of new research methods. She is a member of the board of Mistra, the Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, Sweden and co-editor with Kate Fletcher of the Routledge Handbook for Sustainability and Fashion (2014). PROFFESSOR OF VISUAL ARTS Janis Jefferies is an artist, writer and curator. She is also Ass. Pro Warden for Culture and Creative Industries, Senior Research Fellow, Constance Howard Resource and Research Centre in Textiles and convener of PHD in Arts and Computational Technology. She is founder and editor of Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture and co-editor of the first Handbook of Textile Culture (Bloomsbury, December 2015). LECTURER DESIGN DEPARTMENT Katherine May works as a designer/researcher and facilitator examining the life of textile materials and objects through research and making. Katherine uses acts of making as a tool to interrupt habitual behaviours, and to heighten awareness to material and social surroundings. Her projects explore performative and participatory methods in a variety of contexts from high streets, gardens, residential developments and community halls to gallery spaces and museums. SENIOR LECTURER and HEAD OF HISTORY DEPARTMENT Dr Vivienne Richmond is a Senior Lecturer in Modern British History. She is author of Clothing the Poor in Nineteenth-Century England (2013). She is currently writing a cultural history of the apron, preparing an exhibition of needlework by late-Victorian student teachers, and researching the history of the relationship between disability and craftwork. PROFFESSOR OF COMMUNICATIONS Angela McRobbie is a cultural theorist, feminist and commentator whose work combines the study of popular culture, contemporary media practices and feminism. McRobbie has authored many books and scholarly articles on young women and popular culture, gender and sexuality, the British fashion industry, social and cultural theory, the changing world of work and the new creative economy, feminism and the rise of neoliberalism.
LECTURER INSTITUTE OF CREATIVE AND CULTURAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP (ICCE) Dr. Nicola Searle is a cultural economist who specialises in the economics of intellectual property and the creative industries. Prior her role at ICCE, she was an economist at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) where she covered the economic analysis of trademarks, designs, 3D printing, and aspects of copyright. PROFESSOR ANTHROPOLOGY DEPARTMENT Emma Tarlo’s research focuses on the dynamics of dress and fashion in a global context, challenging the eurocentric focus of conventional fashion studies. Her books include Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India (1996), Visibly Muslim: Fashion, Politics Faith (2010) and the co-edited book Islamic Fashion and Anti-fashion (2013, co-edited with Annelies Moors) Emma teaches in the Department of Anthropology but is on research leave funded by the Leverhulme Trust from 2013-2016. Her new research focuses on the global trade in human hair. LECTURER SOCIOLOGY DEPARTMENT Dr. Kat Jungnickel is a sociologist, cyclist and maker. Her research explores the role and importance of technologies in relation to mobility cultures, gender relations and grassroots hands-on DiY and DiT (Do-It-Together) communities. She is interested in mundane everyday materials and practices; the use of found, purchased and resourcefully adapted materials and improvised methods to re-imagine understandings of and relationships to technology. She is author of DiY WiFi: Re-imagining Connectivity (2014). LECTURER IN DESIGN (TEXTILES) Rose Sinclair’s work exists in the space between design education and design practice. Originally a knitwear designer/ yarn developer, she is concerned with the interaction and engagement with traditional and new digital technologies and their impact on design teaching and pedagogy and the relationship between process and practice of designing textiles and fashion. She is editor of the recently published Textiles and Fashion: Materials, Design and Technology (2015). LECTURER DESIGN DEPARTMENT Ruby Hoette convenes the MA Fashion programme. She works as a designer/researcher/curator exploring fashion in context through the intersection of theory and practice. Her work reveals patterns of use and investigates the construction of value and meaning in fashion through collections of text, photographs, clothing and interactive projects. These propose alternate modes of engaging with fashion by framing the garment as a unique artefact carrying traces of social and cultural interactions and transactions
ASSOCIATE LECTURER MA FASHION Dr Christine Checinska is an Artist, Curator, Writer and Design Consultant as well as Associate Research Fellow at University of Johannesburg VIAD. Her work is situated at the meeting point between contemporary art, fashion and textiles. She writes about the relationship between cloth, culture and race. The cultural exchanges that occur as a result of movement and migration, creating creolised and hybridised cultural forms, are recurring themes within her work. ASSOCIATE LECTURER MA FASHION Elisa van Joolen is an artist, designer and researcher and teaches at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Her approach to clothing design is characterised by strategies of intervention and reconfiguration. Her projects often reflect specific social contexts and emphasise collaboration and participation. They expose relational aspects of clothing and subvert processes of value production. ASSOCIATE LECTURER MA FASHION Joke Robaard is an artist/researcher and teaches theory at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In her art practice she operates on the interface of social-geographical research, cartography and photography, and connects these with philosophy and textile and fashion theory. Her work is an ongoing investigation into these fields and domains. ASSOCIATE LECTURER MA FASHION Anne Karine Thorbjørnsen started her fashion practice after graduating from the MA Fashion at Central Saint Martins in 2012. Central to her practice is drapery/draping/the fold where its traditions and history, aesthetics and associations are re-contextualised through play, intuition and ‘messing about’. She has exhibited her bodies of work in London, Oslo, Stockholm and Melbourne and also works as a guest lecturer at the Oslo Academy of Arts.
MA Fashion was launched in 2013. It is a programme in which students explore the social and cultural context of fashion through both theory and practice. It enables students to combine research, debate and ethics with making to cultivate new and inclusive ways of thinking, doing and being fashion.
The Goldsmiths Fashion Research Unit formed in 2014. It serves as a platform for cross-pollination between researchers and practitioners from departments across Goldsmiths and initiates a programme of events, discussions, conferences, workshops, exhibitions and publications to present the work of the unit, students and invited guests.