New Discourses in Fashion Studies: Sustainable and Cross-Disciplinary

Fashion Projects published a wonderful interview with Hazel Clark, fashion scholar and initiator of the Parsons’ M.A. Fashion Studies program.  For the past few years, Clark has been exploring the subject of fashion and sustainability, venturing into the fields of anthropology, sociology and psychology. In the interview, she contrasts the visual approach to fashion with a more cross-disciplinary and personal approach to the subject:

“I think one of the issues [with fashion] is that it’s so predicated on the visual, on the image (in fashion magazines and now the internet)”

Thinking about the sorts of qualities and relationships we have with our clothing goes hand in hand with acknowledging continuities and sustainability.  It really brings us down to a more involved, intimate level and the recognition of the individual experience, and this is being recognized in scholarship.”

Europeana Fashion, as a collection of images, is firmly embedded in that visual dimension of fashion that Clark mentions. However, it also strongly responds to the need for a discourse that considers the anthropological, sociological, psychological and even personal dimensions of fashion. Thanks to the object research done by the Europeana Fashion partners, the object in Europeana Fashion has more to offer than a mere image.

Europeana Fashion project partner the V&A, for example, offers a wealth of information on the objects in its collection, truly making each object come alive. It was Cecil Beaton who brought in this Balmain dress from Lady Gladwyn, wife to the British ambassador to Paris in the 1950s. According to the diary entry the V&A attached to this object, Lady Gladwyn hosted a very successful soirée in her Balmain gown. We can already imagine the dress starring among the beau monde of 1950s Paris.

Even when it comes to sustainability, exploring Europeana Fashion will offer access to other ways of dressing that will make us rethink our daily fashion routine. What about this early twentieth century Worth tea gown, a gorgeous dress to sip tea with your friends in the intimacy of your own home. One very elaborate dress just for a tea stands in stark contrast with our preferred “functional outfits that work day-to-evening-for-any-occassion”, but it shows us that we can change the way we think about dressing ourselves.

A Worth tea gown or a Balmain gown. They are just a few of many objects that will respond to new discourses in fashion scholarschip.

Worth tea gown © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

By Gabrielle de Pooter, Communication Advisor for Europeana Fashion at MoMu Fashion Museum AntwerpIt has been another fun year though, with much thanks to all of you for your readership, your comments, and your passion for continuing to learn and grow as educators

Leave a comment

− 3 = 5