Protection, Exploitation, Authenticity and Acknowledgement: towards a manifesto
Fashion and Intellectual Property (IP) have, I believe, an uncomfortable relationship. What is clear, though, is that women are under-represented in protected IP, further work that has co-authorship, or is created collectively is complex to protect or have the authors fully acknowledged. This is further complicated through issues of cultural appropriation, so people who are often key to the creation of apparel and in society lack acknowledgement, lack recognition in Fashion. Intellectual Property is “a legal vehicle for facilitating (or thwarting) recognition of diverse contributors to social discourse” (Sunder, IP3 Stanford Law Review 2016). While protection is important, the ability to participate as an equal when asserting rights as essential, and research shows that there is a lack of recognition for female innovation in patents and design rights. In particular the diversity of contributors to the work is rarely acknowledged or rewarded under existing IP legislation. Current IP regulations do not recognise the team who bring their craft to the work and interpret the design. IP has, of course, been created as an element of the market economy, there are arguments that it can inspire innovation through protecting the creation of original thinking, it is also a way of accumulating and accessing finance. It has been built on a founding principle of individuals having the sole authorship of the idea and its expression. However, for the practise of fashion, and many other creative sectors, this is simply not the case, not possible or often desirable. Generation of new ideas is often a collaborative process and in textile and clothing design, often reflects techniques that are specific to cultures and artisans. Fashion can, at times, be seen as a commercial commodification of complex techniques that have been developed over centuries and predominantly by women. Embroidery, quilting, beading and even cutting techniques can be specific to generations and cultures, they have been absorbed by the fashion industry, appropriated and re-appropriated; and of course come in and out of “fashion” in other cultures. “Everyday life invents itself by poaching in countless ways on the property of others” (De Certeau 1984), and we continue, and rapidly, move to a globalised society but with are no formal mechanisms for acknowledging the origin of traditional skills and approaches, and without this there is a move to cultural appropriation rather than innovation.
We need to consider a new purpose for IP, not to generate or protect wealth and creative expressions, but to acknowledge all creators of work, to ensure that their stories are held and celebrated. The way forward seems to be not only in lobbying for changes to policy, but in ensuring that when new designs are filed, that all involved are fully acknowledged. To ensure that all involved, and particularly those whose voices that are often ignored, are heard.
Siân Prime is Deputy Director for Goldsmiths’ Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship (ICCE) and Director of the MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship. She has over 20 years experience in working with start-up and mid-stage creatives and social, cultural and creative organisations and has worked with a range of cultural, creative and social enterprises to find new financial models to ensure strong impact and value creation. This includes working with the original Creative Design, as well as craft, is part of this model of appro- Pioneer Team at Nesta (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the priation. A designer being absorbed by larger brands Arts) responsible for the content and is almost ‘traditional’ in fashion, with fashion gradudelivery of The Academy – Nesta’s resiates being commissioned by high street labels, high street labels are ‘inspired’ by design houses’ catwalk dential enterprise development programme for highly talented creative graduates shows and so innovation flows through the sector. to move their creative thinking to founding How, though, do new voices develop and maintain their an innovative business. Siân has authenticity in a field that copies, imitates, uses oth- been co-Investigator in to new digital business models and online audience er’s skills and techniques as a standard element development approaches with Coney and of the industry? the Department of Computing and is writing a book on Cultural and Creative projects How does Fashion, as a sector, develop authenticity and sustainability for Routledge. She is when it does not acknowledge or reward, fully, the originators of traditional techniques and approaches? working with Professor Angela McRobbie on a European research project in to support for female entrepreneurs in the creative The complexity of acknowledging the skills and craft industries. that inform new design is clear and yet central to ensuring that the market understands authorship of work. It is key that those involved in fashion education ensure that the diversity of contributors to the creation of work are recognised and their impact on the work recognised. Embedding Cultural Studies into Fashion Education seems crucial to ensuring a strong criticality is developed as well as sensitivity and understanding of the social, economic and political factors that impact legislation and authorship. Beyond acknowledgement, there is, of course, the issue of financial reward for skills and ideation. Interesting examples of where craft has been absorbed in to designs are in Westwood’s partnership with artisans from Burkina Faso and artists from Kenya where the financial return is key to the women involved in the manufacture of textiles and decoration, and some acknowledgement is given to them. However, this collaboration is not equal, it is led by Westwood, the craft is absorbed in to the work, and there is little evidence of a process of ideation for all members of the creative team.
Fashion and Ageing Workshops
Ageing in the Fashion System in a complex process that has until recently remained largely unchallenged by both cultural mediators within industry and by wider society. The domination of youthful – particularly female – bodies in visual culture as a whole excludes and ‘otherises’ older representations of feminity, despite our rapidly ageing society. If clothes are ‘tools for self-management’ (Craik, 1994), part of how our identities are performed and embodied (Butler, 1993; Twigg, 2013), what messages does the Fashion System communicate to older consumers about their status in society? In 2010, the global population of over 60s stood at 800 million – it is estimated to increase to 2 billion by 2050. Recent declarations by trend forecasters WGSN assert that ‘old demographics’ will soon ‘become obsolete’ (2016), but will this have any lasting impact on fashion? As Julia Twigg states in ‘Fashion and Age’ (2013): Clothes are… implicated in the politics of age through their larger role as bearers of cultural meaning… It is beautiful young bodies that the Fashion System aspires to dress and that are featured throughout the Fashion System. It presents an idealised world in which age does not feature, or in which it represents a dereliction, a corruption of the vision, a falling off and failure, something to be excluded and ignored. Traditional fashion education briefs often reflect and reinforce fashion’s focus on the very young, neglecting to encourage questioning of the current system and its impact on wider culture. These workshops – run as an open event at the Wellcome Collection and with a cross-section of MA Design students at Goldsmiths University – covered a series of experimental, practice-led provocations, designed to open up conversations and develop thinking around our current social and cultural views of ageing and dress. The workshop comprised three stages: Stage 1 – Presented with a range of juxtaposing fashion magazine imagery spanning 125 years (ranging from Vogue to Prima and Woman & Home), participants were invited to map the changing representations and status of older consumers. In small groups, they discussed their personal responses, annotating their observations and adding these to the images ‘wall’. Stage 2 – In response to the themes discussed, participants created ‘alternative’ magazine images by cannibalising and collaging the pictures they had been most drawn to. Responses included the removal of bodies and skin altogether (leaving only clothes and drawn-in eyes), or the merging of illustrations of ‘Mrs Exeter’ (Vogue’s fictitious elegant ‘older woman’ from the 40s and 50s), with images from ‘easy wear’ catalogues (“we’ve just got to rescue these ladies from those cardigans!”)
Lili Golmohammadi is a designer, researcher and facilitator. Her wide-ranging practice encompasses garment design, podcasting, print, websites, jewellery, photography, performance and installation. This concern for multidisciplinarity Participants in these workshops came from a variety informs her teaching and her research. of backgrounds and age groups and brought a rich Lili has worked previously for design dynamic to the discussion and activities. Neither and trend forecasting companies including group had seen fashion images from so many decZara, Pull & Bear and WGSN. Her profesades grouped together in relation to age, and this sional practice at present is focused encouraged them to look anew at their understanding on several key interlinking areas of of portrayals of age over time. Interestingly, the Well- research including ageing and fashion, come Collection participants (mostly in their 50s and trend forecasting, and the development 60s), were not from design backgrounds. Although and innovation of design (particularly they were the target audience of some of the publifashion) education. Lili has had extensive cations displayed, they had not considered the kind of experience devising and leading commuimages being targeted towards them; the workshops nity-based arts projects in a range of opened up opportunities for reflection that were not centres and is a Visiting Lecturer on previously available and encouraged lively discussions the Design Education and Fashion MA drawing upon their personal experiences. These work- programmes at Goldsmiths. shops centred primarily on Western representations of female ageing, however in the future there is scope to expand this to encompass other cultures and genders. It is clear that there is a strong interest in this area, one that isn’t being met by mainstream fashion or fashion education. Perhaps it is too soon to say whether the cult of youth will become less dominant in future, but these kinds of participatory and active conversations are important as we move towards becoming an ageing society. Stage 3 – Second-hand garments were altered to reflect central themes. One participant marked out the areas that women typically aim to conceal as they age, cutting into them create flaps – open windows, for pointed exposure.
Butler, J.P. (1993) Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of ‘sex’. New York: Taylor & Francis. Craik, J. (1993) The face of fashion: Cultural studies in fashion. New York: Routledge. Twigg, J. (2013) Fashion and age: Dress, the body and later life. London: Bloomsbury USA Academic.
The Storytelling Wardrobe â€œShe may have forgotten she was the one who taught me how to wear the sarong for the first time. I am wonderingâ€Ś if she started to teach her own children how to wear a sarong How happy her kids could be wearing it for the first time and how blissful she would be looking at her children growing up, inheriting her dressing ritual.â€?
Upon recalling the past events embedded in the sarong cloth, I became intoxicated with the nostalgic sentiments of this many-years-owned, perhaps almost forgotten sarong cloth that accidentally fell out from my wardrobe. I found it hard to withdraw from the ethereal glow and decided to be back to the long lost past, to the time when hand-finished sarong cloth was commonly worn and appreciated. My affection towards the bygone of this sarong cloth is the source of inspiration for this project - I called it The Storytelling Wardrobe, for it is stories contained in a wardrobe. The Storytelling Wardrobe is a mnemonic cabinet that is associated with the sarong cloth in my wardrobe. It contains the myth of clothing as well as cloth that I have been exploring in the past year. Throughout the exploration, I try to extract essence of the sarong cloth by recalling its past embodiments and having the past embodiments repeated in the closest alternatives at the present day. Thereby, I propose a revival of the past in the current wardrobe to be reincarnated to the future wardrobe; whereby the lost beauty will be much appreciated and treasured.
SYMBOLS OF YOUTH Intimacy of a Semiconscious Visual Language
Subjective research, sensitive research - research based on 7 young fashion studentsâ€™ perceptions. Written as if it were fiction, each extract is generated from a real visual answer - answers that were gathered through an interactive kit that each of them made their own for 10 days. Each participant gave me the permission to generate that fiction, showing a result that will never be accurate and will never be wrong. It is a written interpretation of a visual language and a visual reinterpretation of a visual answer. This creates a new narrative for each answer, a new meaning and cross narratives between the results. Together they produce a representation of a group, an extract of their generation. With this a wearable textile is produced that aims to capture their message, their symbols, their youth. This is the beginning of a fashion research based on personal experience and notions, on aspects that surround fashion, involve with it and determine their future.
... a new sexuality or an unknown one? Discovering her own body and sharing that new feeling with an unknown person. Is that freedom? Is that fashion? Is that a new way of approaching things? Liberate the mind and the body and share... share your language and your intimacy, share your knowledge and unknowingness with someone that don't know anything about you... that is a very generous way of communication.
... she doesn't care or she just like it? Are that important clothes, disorder or a sign of an immature behaviour? I can find beauty in these piles of clothes. Innate sculptures that exist for short periods of time or sometimes for more time that it should exist. Is an unconscious way of expression that could be a proposed a new way of dressing or a new way of designing. Is possible to discover new ways of expressing fashion in a natural and day to day action?
...open your head for what: share your feelings and thoughts? Let your problems flow? Allow others to see inside you? Or just open a new portal of awareness that permits you to connect with what is really important. Is it possible to make a trend of what is really important? Is fashion really important? Maybe that portal can make you realize that thinking about these things is what matters, be aware of the use of that information and share it in a proper way - a portal that connects your actions with your knowledge and your knowledge with your feelings. Generate symbolic rituals that make sense and give you tools to produce a better future...
... this is a run away scene. An agony of existence that shouts wisdom and sadness between old times and new times. It is a story of inspiration and maybe some disappointment. Is this the result of a fashion process or a life process? Maybe they are the same, maybe a fashion developer spends their whole life searching and producing that fashion environment or inspiration, and maybe that constant searching is what keeps the fashion system alive, an eternal loop, and eternal search...
French literary theorist Roland Barthes argued that fashion is language. If this is the case, then I most certainly speak blue through my dress. In fact, I write the symphony of my existence in the same committed way as American singer songwriter Bobby Vinton who dedicated his entire 1963 studio album of cover songs titles ‘Blue on Blue’ to this colour located in between violet and green on the optical spectrum of visible light. Whilst the colour is coded with a heavy historical and social value, I can also trace my personal past by following its deep blue veins to where I am today. Much like intonation of language, blue can shout meaning or whispers nuanced tones. As with any colour, talking blue should be done with care, taking into consideration the style and manner of projection. When I first moved to UK, I learned that speaking the same language doesn’t necessarily mean understanding each other as well. Whilst semi-fluent in English, the people of Birmingham had great difficulties understanding my expressionless Finnish pronunciation style, whilst I thought the heavily coloured Brummie accent was incomprehensible. Equally, during the first year of my arts studies, I ran into difficulties interpreting my tutor’s feedback, who I at least otherwise fully understand. Referring to my drawings done exclusively with blue pens, he delivered a one-word feedback using the expression ‘interesting’ which I took to mean ‘You are doing something new and special here Johannes’. However, as I learned the quirks of English language and the art of interpreting feedback, I later realised that he actually meant ‘Sorry, but I don’t have anything positive to say about this mess’. In the same way, my blue existence has been misinterpreted more than once whilst walking around my old haunt in North-London’s Holloway during Arsenal football matches. Oblivious to importance of coded colours and the segregation of home and visiting fans on each side of the stadium to avoid clashes, my blue appearance has not been understood amongst the Arsenal reds. Language is never as straightforward as it first appears and it takes time and skill to learn it. So in order to avoid misunderstandings, I want to be specific here. When I say I just talk blue, what I really mean is that I prefer a specific dialect of navy that consists of equal balance of yellow, green and purple. In my lingo, there is nothing noble about royal, nor do I rate ultramarine even though it was one of the most expensive pigments during the Renaissance period. Despite its maritime roots shared with navy, I find admiral to be too old fashioned like Queen’s English whilst cobalt is a brash like the Scouse accents. Not a fashion colour, navy projects a sense of stability and calmness, qualities that I appreciate in clothing and hope to project verbally as well. I would never be able to dress in red because of its emotional undertones
and attention-seeking charge. Red, and I mean real red, is a screamer and likes its own voice damn too much. Navy on the other hand completes me visually and mentally.
Yet, what we all have in common, beyond red thread provided by the shared colour, is the way in which navy has acted as a uniform for all of us. This association is inherent in the colour, serving as the base for naval army and to the lawyers, bankers and business people roaming the city of London as captured by Ari Versluis’ and Ellie Uyttenbroek in their image collage titled ‘City Girls - London 2008’ as part of their urban ethnography project titled Exactitudes. The late fashion photographer Bill Cunningham was known for his true blue French worker jacket which since the 18th century has served as a uniform for farmers and craftsmen. Cunningham took a liking to the jacket for its durable fabric and utilitarian big pocket useful for carrying rolls of film and what not. Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg and the 44th President of the United States of America Barak Obama both prefer a uniform approach to their choice of clothing as a way to have one less decision to make in the mornings. Whilst I don’t have as lofty ideas about increased productivity with the reduction of fashion choices, having a predominantly blue wardrobe does mean less work in the early, at times blurry, hours of the day. In the world of endless choice, I buy in bulk when the right shade of navy – like gold dust to me – stumbles along in the shops which only adds to the uniformness of my
Johannes Reponen is a fashion critic, consultant, scholar and educator. He attempts to think, talk, test and take forward ideas around fashion criticism through editorial practice, writing and research. In addition to this, he regularly lectures and hosts workshops in the areas of fashion writing, fashion criticism, fashion design thinking, critical fashion practice and content creation. Johannes is course leader of MA in Fashion Media Practice and Criticism at London College of Fashion and the editor of Address - journal for fashion writing and criticism, which launched in October 2011. He is currently completing his practice-led PhD thesis at London College of Fashion which aims to define what fashion criticism is today through the use of writing practice, auto-ethnography and interviews with fashion critics.
Whilst aesthetic preferences seem inherently individual and fleeting with tastes of time, navy is in fact my native tongue, spoken by all the men in the family. Rooted in the coastal town of Hamina, located on the border of Russia in eastern Finland, my father and father’s father both worked for and with the sea. With this, navy has been established, not as the colour of choice but rather as a family heirloom or a coded gene, passed down the generations much in the way as the combination of 3 names we all share. Like language, our generational approach to navy has evolved along the way, becoming more casual as it has been passed down. My granddad, a navy officer, had a strict sense of dress, in the way only military men in uniforms might. My dad on the other hand was rebellious, preferring to flunk school in order to escape to Europe to go racing with sailboats, which required a more liberated attire. In the spirit of the later 60’s early 70’s, it was more Left Bank and Lee’s – style, which he still funnily imbues in his sartorial choices today like a rebellious teenager, almost 50 years later. I then carry the left overs of maritime style with the disconnection that comes with today’s fashion whilst wanting to project a sense of belonging. My navy has traces of the family history, but along the way, it has also acquired new meanings as well.
uniform. Inescapable from its melancholic connotation, blue on blue meant a double dose of heartache for Bobby Vinton. For me, this colour signifies a dialogue with my past, a discourse with my sense of being in the present and the subsequent interactions when navigating through the next. Thus, blue in my eyes turns from melancholy that most often is about loss and yearning to contentment that signals to me that I have found my tone.
Modest Headwear - Observations on London Streets For many, fashion is first and foremost personal – a person’s aesthetic expression of a sense of self and as such contributing substantially to their wellbeing. Why this should be is one thing, that it seems true is another. There is a test for the latter.
Try wearing the opposite style of clothing to that in which you normally feel confident and you will immediately know what I am talking about. No red lipstick if this is part of your daily routine, expose your body shape if you normally wear loosely layered clothing. I am 58 years of age and for my “opposite clothing” experiment I chose some of my 20 year old daughter’s clothes – printed leggings, shapeless sweatshirt, bobble hat - worn with what I regard as a “cheap and chavvy” look - discarding all the rules of “age coded” clothing. In truth I normally leave aside most of such rules out of a sense of “f… you, nobody tells me what to wear” – on good days that is – thus not always – I sometimes lack that courage. Wearing really young clothes at my age pushed it. The day began with a weird avoidance strategy in order not to be seen by my neighbour when I left home. By the end of the day I felt vulnerable, close to tears and - stripped of my usual sense of self-image and aesthetics – exposed as an inauthentic fashion victim. Fashion had worn me out in a single day! As Joanne Entwistle points out when dealing with fashion, albeit as a fashion buyer or consumer creating their own personal wardrobe and style, fashion choices are usually based on a “tacit aesthetic (self-) knowledge … both embodied and expressive” (Entwistle, 2009). However such personal pre-existing aesthetics are in a constant state of exchange with the local social, cultural and economic environment and these days also subject to global influences (Entwistle, 2009). When I came to understand how intimately intertwined fashion is with one’s personal wellbeing, influencing each other in a dynamic negotiation space, I began to look around when walking the streets of London. In my observations of street fashion I focus on headwear across different cultures that completely covers the hair. I try to observe without judging – keeping in mind that Muslim headwear is usually perceived in the West as a comprehensive sign of female submission. The reality is much more complex and nuanced. Negotiating between public space and religious requirements, whilst simultaneously seeking to be individually fashionable, young British Muslim women have created a whole new modest fashion niche, mixing and matching High Street Fashion with Modest Clothing items.
I take street images with my internal virtual and external actual IPhone camera, neutrally recording what I see. My personal conversations with young Muslim women, born of my interest in creating turbans as an alternative to the head scarf, have revealed that Modest Headwear is not always what it seems to be and that the received wisdom is too polarized and condemning, un-nuanced and conceptually grey. To uncover the truth one needs to look at the possibility that the received wisdom might be wrong. As a fashion conscious friend recently told me, my talking to her of my studies had changed how she takes notice of the way women cover up – in particular of the different ways in which cultural and social beliefs manifest themselves as an individual’s appearance. With many young British Muslim women a culturally conservative practice has become the basis of liberating the wearer, now capable of expression of individual choices and aesthetic inclinations in a multiplicity of ways – not at all monochromatic and monotonous as one might think.
Entwistle, J., The aesthetic economy of fashion: markets and value in clothing and modelling, Oxford: Berg, 2009
My friend’s awakening is precisely the goal of my work. We live in an age of increasing racial and cultural division. I believe that increasing awareness and understanding of each other on the personal level across different cultures and religions is of the utmost importance. I was so surprised when – for my very first time – on approaching a young Muslim woman wearing the niqab face veil on Goldsmiths campus, she spontaneously invited me to the Prayer Room. Despite its name this turned out to be something of a Community Centre for female Muslim students. My personal conversations and contacts with Muslim women started that day – a day of “firsts” – as this young Muslim student had also never been before spoken to by someone outside her Muslim culture when wearing the veil.
29th June 2016 I noticed these three Bangladeshi women when they assembled inside Angel tube station. It is rare to see a group like this migrating (in the ‘bird’ sense) over to Islington, maybe from Whitechapel Market. They seemed to be three generations of one family. Although all these ladies were wearing kinds of house slippers, and long robe like over garments with headscarves, the assumed grandmother stood out in her purely black outfit. The younger generations favoured strong patterns and subtle colour in their abayas and hijabs. I surreptitiously followed them along Upper Street trying to get them all into one photographic frame. Like a flock of migratory birds they would dissipate in and out of their flight formation thus conserving the strengths of two flock members whilst the third provided the energy efficient updraft by flying first in line. Twisting and winding around each other like a skein of yarn each took turns to head the flock, easing the shopping fatigue brought on by the shared carrying of their bright pink shopping bag bearing the logo ‘FOREVER 21’. Journalist Åsne Seierstad intimately describes how much more challenging shopping becomes when hijab and abaya are exchanged for the Afghan burka. “Skyblue everywhere… In the mud she can distinguish the dirty shoes from other dirty shoes…She walks round the bazar, looking down, following the fluttering burka… Burka-women are like horses, they can only look in one direction… a man must know what his wife is looking at.” (Seierstad, 2002) I lost sight of them when they swerved in flight around a corner with grandmother leading the skeined flock.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V_formation [Accessed 2/7/2016] Seierstad, A., The Bookseller of Kabul, 2004, Virago: London.
Upper Street, Islington. 17:43
6th July 2016 A friend had asked me recently if children wear hijabs. She thought that Muslim girls only cover up after reaching puberty. I knew they did; she remained doubtful. Today I encountered the visual answer to my friend’s question. Approaching New Cross Station I came across a family of Mum and three young girls, all were wearing hijabs. The children were spilling out of the station like giant soap bubbles. The youngest one wore a very frilly pink dress with a perfectly matched hijab. The middle girl had the same dress in orange but a navy headscarf, whilst the oldest sister was all in white matching her Mum’s hijab. The two younger sisters were playing with a bright turquoise balloon which, at that point, was in firm possession of the youngest child. The oldest girl appeared to take some notice of my interest by seeming to perform some dance moves for me. They were obviously returning from a festivity, but which one? How could I find out? Were the very young girls wearing the hijab just for the day’s festivities or everyday? Outside New Cross Station. 20:53
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_al-Fitr [Accessed 7/6/2016]
N1 Shopping Centre. 21:25
Half an hour later in the Islington N1 Shopping Centre I came across another all female Muslim family in celebratory spirits with three children running and jumping after multiple red balloons. The two women were embracing each other. They wanted this moment in time documented and remembered. I had nearly passed them when they approached me. Handing their white iPhone over for me to capture this moment, I curiously enquired, “What are you celebrating?” “Eid!!!” – of course. Not only had a month of fasting come to an end – today it is forbidden to fast!
20th July 2016 Dear reader,
Every dot, every coma, semicolon, hyphen and two points rendered; every rhyme, stanza, and paragraph expresses my onus. The people I chose to work with, the venues selected, the music, the colours, the voices, the sounds and even the silences have a purpose. The very reason of my prose is to provoke you and tempt you to find, as a furtive hunter, the meanings escaping, nay dodging the common sense of the perpetuated narratives in the fashion industry.
To whom it may concern, deeply disappointed will be those who expect to read a style manual. Because I do not define myself as an arbiter elegantiarum; because “the top five beauty tips of the week” and the intriguing question if “fringe should fall over or under your sunglasses” could be find anywhere else; and mostly because these topics and the publications that disdainfully rise them are dull and represent a constant act of treachery towards the interdisciplinary potential of the fashion field. My work implies ananalytic exercise in the relation between image and written text, in the interstices of sentences and amid words. It presumes a rebellious tone against the flabby fashion journalism; it is an invitation to those who are eager to find something else between lines.
Sara Molina Ponce
Can embroidery be a tool for reconnecting the different particles of the fashion system? Embroidery is a tool that not only connects fabric together, stories and names, people and places, it can also be used as an instrument to make the fashion industry human again. Embroidery at its core is a narrator of time and stories, but when the embroidering hand is taken out of the equation, you are left with a lifeless piece that only reflects a fleeting trend. The process of ornamenting has for me been a conversation between planned obsolescence and slow fashion. I have used my hands to make connections between designer, maker, wearer - craftsmanship, clothing, upcycling - and the previous lives of the second hand denim garments I sourced to make these jumpsuits. Embroidery can add permanence, sensibility, empathy, even love to a garment. This added value is not only our bond with clothes as fashion consumers, it is also makes the path towards connecting and fixing the broken relationships between the designers, the makers, the consumers, the traders, the planet. The ornamentor considers their agenda and audience as part of their process. Itâ€™s a role that can be adopted by anyone to provide a reflexive route for hands that are willing to make. It allows for thinking whilst engaging creatively with fashion objects, an indispensable process for change within the fashion system.
COLLECTING A COLLECTION
Spring/Summer/Whatever 2017 The practical process of collection in sourcing materials from recycling plants, charity and thrift shops, boot sales, flea markets, the street, etc is as important as the creation of clothing itself. One must physically dig through bins and heaps, making the process almost archaeological. Curtains, pillow cases, stuffed animals, blankets, discarded clothing â€“ these materials bear traces of use, creases and stains - they have a history. My interest in these materials relates to my exploration of performative gender identity, especially the evolution of womenâ€™s roles. My work pays homage to the traditionally feminine role in the home, interacting with textiles and making handcrafts. Coming from a background where the women in my family have by and large abandoned domestic crafts like sewing or crocheting, I am interested in reclaiming this practice in a mode that questions the very fabric of gender identity. As a woman able to live on her own and pursue higher education in a foreign country, I am obviously reaping the benefits of feminist political advances of the preceding decades, and the irony of my obsession with handicraft and domestic textiles is not lost on me. I seek to combine the heritage of traditional womenâ€™s craft with an evolving contemporary understanding of feminine gender identity. The collection will be presented on the London Overground with the intention to liberate fashion from traditionally designated cultural spaces and dissolve the separation between model and spectator. The presentation will serve as a performance of everyday life - the banal activity of commuting - with the ultimate goal of merging art and life through fashion.
The New Times â€“ Fashion and Politics Curated As a curator I am interested in presenting the relationship between politics and conceptual fashion, presenting it in such a way that conceptual fashion practice is relevant for our contemporary society. It has an emancipative value (like all arts) to contribute to a narrative of our daily lives and politics. This project is a way to make the works of a selection of fashion designers engage with contemporary politics. It makes links between the themes the designers are addressing in their projects and current issues in society today. Through the collection of the International New York Times newspaper as a starting point, I developed a method to link current news stories to the work and themes of contemporary designers. In this way I curate a new narrative for their work. This manifests in two ways. The first is a series of interventions or performances in particular public spaces that start conversations. The second is a display that brings together the documentation of all of these interventions into a cohesive whole. This shows the different connections between a particular article and each designers practice. It also illustrates the curatorial method as a way of creating a dialogue between contemporary politics and fashion design. The project generates experiences through interventions; positioning the work of each designer in a particular space alongside a current news article which captures a particular moment in time. Curating fashion in this way establishes its role in social and political discourses of our time.
Transformed Uniformed Workwear explores the boundaries between formal and functional workwear. It investigates the suit jacket and the work coat, both archetypes that represent different types of work and can indicate the role and social status of the wearer. Today there is a growing interference between work and social life and so the requirements on garments have also changed. Traditional workwear that purely achieves formality or functionality is no longer sufficient in representing the individual wearer, meeting the demands of their lifestyle and providing a means to identify with a particular garment. With in-depth research into the origin of both archetypes as well as an analysis of their uses and form, unique characteristics and distinctive features become visible. Particularly the different types of protection they provide for physical labour and social contexts. This research is linked with information gathered on the clothing behaviour of men and women in cities like London or Berlin. It informs a process of material experimentation and prototyping through which a series of variations on the archetypes are transformed into a limited series of fashion garments. The collection is made for both material and emotional durability. Through the use of high quality materials, workmanship and hand-painted stripes the value of each item is increased in turn leading to a closer relationship, interaction and identification with a garment reinforcing its longevity.
Many Koreans study in London fashion schools. Most graduates go back to Korea in order to start their own brands as part of the Korean fashion industry. Using primary research methods I collected information from Korean students and graduates in London fashion schools in order to find the real difficulties and differences they experienced in their education as well as their early career experiences. In this way I was able to compare the approaches to supporting young fashion designers in the UK and Korea. Their difficulties can be categorised in the different stages of setting up and managing their brands: education; planning; designing and manufacturing; and marketing and selling. The difficulty in Korean fashion education is that Korean fashion schools do not provide courses to grow their brand identity or courses to learn practical processes to set up their brand. At the planning stage there is a lack of mentoring from fashion experts in fashion industry. The standardised manufacturing system in Dongdaemun (Korean manufacturing area) is also pointed out as problematic. When selling their clothes, they encounter difficulty of one-off fashion fairs and fashion exhibitions provided from government agencies. What becomes apparent is the need to build an awareness of young fashion designers symbolic and social value at a governmental level. In my work I investigate new methods to create interactive fashion policy linking every part of the fashion industry.
Clothes and Memories: Using fabrics from the Soviet household. The green stripes of window blinds are now on your legs topped with an etched rubber bath mat. Lace curtain layered over a tablecloth cut into an A-line skirt. Red quilt turns into a top held in place with tied strings. Red quilt Clear PVC Floral nightgown bedding Etched rubber bath mat Lace net curtain Floral table cloth Tie with strings
Future Projecting - Sterling Ruby’s WORK WEAR: Garment and Textile Archive 2008 - 2016 I visited Sterling Ruby’s exhibition at Spruth Magers in April this year. WORK WEAR: Garment and Textile Archive 2008 – 2016 was a collection of the artist’s ‘work wear’ made from the leftover scraps from his soft sculpture production and other projects. Every time a new artwork is finished, a new collection of garments is made as a conclusion to the project. Ruby refers to these uniforms as ‘studio camouflage’, as they are constructed with the same methods and enzyme washes as his artworks; processes derived from the historical textile industry in LA, where he lives and works. Pinned flat against the walls of the gallery, shirts and jeans, ponchos, jackets and bags were crafted from dyed denim and colourful threads. Like his soft sculptures, the garments revealed his DIY aesthetic: Big, awkward shapes and simple sillhouettes constructed from heavy, hand-bleached and paint splattered denim. However, each piece was meticulously crafted with hand sewn ‘Sterling Ruby Studio LA California’ labels and custom buttons. A balance between utility and playfulness, craft and design and fashion and art. Considering the garments as studio uniforms speaks to the presence of multiple bodies and the manifestation of time in his practice. Ruby works in a 4-acre compound in LA with his assistants. The studio is comprised of different areas for drawing, ceramics, dying and construction, and a gallery space for steady contemplation of his work. The uniforms visually map out his prolific output since 2008, but they also speak to the totality of time spent working through projects in this space. Each of them appeared as full stops, marking the end of a project and the beginning of another – each one a future projection of the next work. In The Loneliness of the Project, Boris Groys says that all projects – creative projects – are ‘a draft for a particular vision of the future.’ (2010) To be engaged in the practice of making fashion, or making art, is a lifetime of future projections. It constitutes a leave of absence where ‘the project shifts its agent into a parallel state of heterogeneous time’ (Groys, 2010), or a disconnected, future facing time away from the common rhythms of everyday life. This is the loneliness of the project: the sanctioned, hidden time spent working through processes of consideration and analysis. It is a period of delay and prolonging before the moment of exposure, or the exhibition or catwalk presentation, which in turn gives social justification for the life spent in isolation. Without the leave of absence, Groys argues that we are at the ‘mercy of the general flow of world events, of overall universal fate, compelling us to maintain constant communication with our immediate surroundings.’ (2010) Being engaged in a project, on the other hand, is a compulsion for contemporaneity and the depositing of new ideas
into the general flow of things. Ruby’s Work Wear therefore invites us to consider the time that leads to a moment of exposure, including the bodies, the processes and the spaces.
It is worth considering the visibility of liminal time in Sterling Ruby’s work and how this is mapped across certain spaces and bodies. It is also worth considering his whole way of working and how he unapologetically moves across art, fashion, craft and design. On one It also invites us to consider the dialogical aspects hand, it is perhaps his cult-like status and success of creative practice, as isolation for Sterling Ruby that allows him this confidence, but at the same time, is not a singular endeavor; instead it is a collective there is a quiet sensitivity and release of control isolation that encompasses art, design and craft visible in his work that seems to provide him with an skills and collaborators. His practice calls to mind the outsider, almost amateur, position in these worlds. Bauhaus term ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ – or, a total work of His process is a salient reminder of the preciousness art – where the artist works across many art forms. of time to creative practice and the ways in which In 2014, he collaborated with Menswear designer Raf ideas flow between different contexts and environSimons to create his Autumn/Winter collection. ments. And, importantly, the potential for creative The result was, in Simons words, a ‘true collaboration’ practice to open up critical lines of questioning from formed through dialogue over time and bringing within, rather than from the outside looking in. together shared interests and references and the movement of art through fashion. The collection revealed the complex set of tensions between the artist Burley, I. (2014) Raf Simons: Beyond the Interzone. and the designer contained within a tight sequencing order Available at http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/ that solidified it as fashion. For example, the visual article/19724/1/raf-simons-beyond-the-interzone elements and materials were comprised of Ruby’s larger-than-life DIY aesthetic, while the construction Burroughs, W.S. (1989) Interzone, New York: Penguinreferenced their shared interest in punk bands and Books Groys, B. (2010) Going Public, Berlin: Sternberg hand made clothing. These were given structure Press through the regimented footwear, the models and the catwalk. Caroline Stevenson is a curator, writer and lecturer. She currently teaches Raf Simons refers to his own collaborative practice in the Cultural and Historical Studies as ‘The Interzone’, or a time of letting go to see what department at London College of Fashion might happen, and working across different ideas where she coordinates ‘Contextualising and contexts. He says it is ‘when you think about Your Practice’ in the School of Design audience, the boys we work with, us, our thought Technology. She also teaches ‘The Culture processes and that moment when it’s going to be ex- of Fashion Design’, a second year unit posed.’ (Simons, 2014) Of their collaboration, Simons developed from her own research into stated that he wanted to apply an outsider theory the nature of creative pratice. Through to fashion, meaning he wanted to see what might her curatorial practice, Caroline has be possible by applying Ruby’s processes to his own. worked closely with both emerging Here, the Interzone refers not only to a collaborative and established artists to research aesthetic, but to a whole way of working together. It is and develop new projects and to create a distinct subject position that surrenders authoritative space for experimentation, dialogue control to allow new ideas and working practices to and exchange. She publishes writing on emerge. Taken from William S. Burroughs collection artists’ practices and the economy of of short stories, The Interzone references Burroughs culture, as well as contributing to life in the Tangier International Zone in the 1950’s at exhibition catalogues, talks and conferences, a time when it was renowned for its liberal culture, and supporting artists through transitional as well as being, essentially, an artificial and legal moments in their careers. construct - a place of fiction. Because of this, it was also a natural place of exile for lots of people such as literary writers and those fleeing from other countries. Burroughs himself refers to it as the ‘sanctuary of non-interference’ (1989); an indeterminate and transitional state existing at the threshold of something else. He describes the novel itself as ‘a scenario for future action in the real world.’ (1989) Recalling Groys’ loneliness of the project, it is the invisible time that leads to the moment of exposure.
Transformation or Deformation? Distortion – Deformation - Decomposition – Restructuring - Reincarnation Knitted masks that encase the head, veil the face. Multiple holes leave room for variability. By shifting the mask the body deforms.
The body is revealed only when it ceases to be supported by the bones, when the flesh ceases to cover the bones, when the two exist for each other, but each on its own terms: The bone as the material structure of the body, the flesh as the bodily material of the Figure. (Deleuze, 2003) Facial expressions contort and become abstract. The mask represents the “bodily material” of the face. It passes through multiple distortion conditions. Facial features are delocalised. The mouth then acquires this power of nonlocalization that turns all meat into a head without a face. It is no longer a particular organ, but the hole through which the entire body escapes, and from which the flesh descends. (Deleuze, 2003) By twisting the mask the face decomposes and materiality appears. Facial features deform, restructure and reincarnate the character. [Transformation and deformation] are two very different categories. The transformation of form can be abstract or dynamic. But deformation is always bodily, and it is static, it happens at one place; it subordinates movement to force, but it also subordinates the abstract to the Figure. (Deleuze, 2003) Deleuze, G. (2003) Francis Bacon: The logic of sensation. London: Continuum International Pub. Group.
Published on Oct 11, 2016
Published on Oct 11, 2016
FASHION INDEX 2016 brings together work from the graduating cohort of MA Fashion alongside contributions from academics and practitioners fr...