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Towards a practice of unmaking: the essay film as critical discourse for fashion in the expanded field

Torres, Lara Mendonça Guterres (2019) Towards a practice of unmaking: the essay film as critical discourse for fashion in the expanded field. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Torres, Lara Mendonça Guterres

Going against the traditional productivist nature of fashion design, this practice-based PhD proposes a strategy for critical fashion practices in a research context at the intersection of fashion, fine arts, and film methodologies. This interdisciplinary strategy investigates fashion in the expanded field, exploring fashion practice as a form of critical thinking, questioning the fashion system itself: a practice of unmaking. The purpose of this research is to develop a practice-based method of producing an essay film as an artistic reflection critically discussing the problems of the fashion system, providing new insights into the way a fashion designer develops new approaches that can expand the action spaces available for fashion. Since the etymology of the word ‘fashion’ relates it to the Latin factio, meaning ‘making’ or ‘doing,’ to ‘unmake’ fashion carries in itself a paradox: it is both a metaphorical undoing and a methodological one, a practice of fashion resistance by not producing clothing, a deconstruction of fashion in order to understand what its made of – like unpicking the seams of a jacket in order to analyse its construction. It de-constructs underlying assumptions regarding a transition to post-productivism, exposing the limitations of current market-driven fashion design processes. Drawing on Rosalind Krauss’s notion of sculpture in the expanded field (1979), as used in the discourse on cinema (Bardon et al., 2015), this research documents the development of experimental fashion films since the 1980s and the interdisciplinary fashion practices that stand at the edge of the fashion discipline. It investigates how thought experiments can steer the creative process towards a critique of fashion, drawing from modernist conceptual and de-materialized art practices towards the development of a conceptual fashion. The research methodology developed within the practice extends the potential of communicating through the essay film format in order to critique fashion within the contemporary context of heightened concerns about climate change and environmental issues induced by mass-production, fast-fashion, and global fashion distribution and consumption. This is developed through a juxtaposition of allegorical images resembling a thought process: the fashion image is used as a thinking-form for constructing a critique of its own systems. The thesis emphasizes the importance of taking a critical stance to fashion due to the lack of reflection within current fashion practices, synthesizing a body of knowledge to inform practitioners of experimental, critical fashion while revealing complexities within the communication of these concerns, proposing fashion as the representation of a deconstructive thought where dress itself becomes ‘immaterial’.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: January 2019
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2022 13:01
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2024 09:33
Item ID: 18359
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/18359

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