Fragments, Cloth and Memory: Material Culture Research Methodologies for Fashion Narratives

in Fashion: Tyranny and Revelation
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Invested with the research methodologies of material culture scholarship and the ‘physical’ nature of ‘embodied practice’, this chapter investigates fashion design processes as an academic activity. It considers how practice-led or embodied practice can inform design evolution and develop students’ design-confidence. The chapter shows the diversity and possibility afforded to fashion outcomes read through the framework of a task entitled Fragments: Cloth and Memory, delivered at Whitehouse Institute of Design, Australia, Sydney Campus. At the heart of this chapter lie a series of student designs; textile narratives and fashion collections, where the particular learning and teaching strategies engaged in the studio prompted very personal and unique approaches to clothing and cloth. Real engagement and embodiment of ideals is apparent in these works. As physical, historical, emotive and mechanical memory were investigated and ensuing processes applied to the humble materiality of cotton and silk, new and innovative textiles were created. These textile experiments possess additional meaning as they evolve into fashion-clothing though their association with intimacy, and develop as narratives through garments shadowing the body, and by revealing a deeper personal significance for the designer. These original designs become protective amulets, graced with imitative magic through their personalised craftsmanship and materiality. With their own developing mechanical memory, they protect the torso, bosom and vulnerable throat; Fragments, Cloth and Memory at the heart of fashion.

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