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UAL Research Online

A minimal aesthetic: the relationships between fashion and art in New York and Paris, from 1964 to the present day

Sacchetti, Maria José (2013) A minimal aesthetic: the relationships between fashion and art in New York and Paris, from 1964 to the present day. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Sacchetti, Maria José

This thesis identifies and characterises a minimal aesthetic evident in a strand of fashion emerging in New York and Paris from 1964 onwards. It examines the way in which a minimal aesthetic has been applied to the practice of fashion design and retail architecture, specifically in a high-fashion context. The research establishes that the earliest manifestation of a minimal aesthetic in fashion design, took place in 1964, in the work of the French fashion designer André Courrèges. Designers who later adopted similar principles include Jil Sander (1968), Calvin Klein (1968), Zoran Ladricorbic (1976), Donna Karan (1984), Helmut Lang (1986) and Narciso Rodriguez (1997), among others.

The study identifies the origins of the principles of a minimal aesthetic and examines them through two distinct case studies that consider the practice of designers Donna Karan and Helmut Lang, both of whose work emerged during the 1980s. The investigation re-evaluates the significance of Minimalism in fashion history. It challenges accepted views of Minimalism in fashion as merely a trend of the mid-1990s, or as a local phenomenon.

The thesis maintains that these principles find expression in the designers’ work, in the architecture of the flagship stores and in the inter-relationship between the two. Additionally, it investigates the meanings that these products convey to the consumer. Through an evaluation of the retail architecture, it establishes parallels between the principles of this aesthetic and earlier elements of a post-war Modernist architecture. The study of the dynamic inter-relationship between elements of fashion design and those of architecture focuses on the definition of a minimal aesthetic. Furthermore, these claims are contextualized within other fields such as material culture, cultural and historical studies and sociology.

The thesis employs a qualitative methodology comprising empirical research based on case studies and object-based analysis, all of which draw upon theory that addresses the means of interpretation. The study has developed through an analysis of dress and the retail architecture associated with the case study designers’ work. Through empirical research, the research shows how contemporary attitudes, practices and theories have emerged which are essential for the analysis of dress and the spaces it inhabits. The primary sources, garments from the collections of André Courrèges, Donna Karan and Helmut Lang held at key international costume archives at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, are discussed in relation to other archival and published sources.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

Director of Studies: Alistair O’Neill
Supervisors: Judith Clark, Catherine McDermott

The full text of this thesis has been restricted due to copyright restrictions. If you would like access, please contact UAL Research Online.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 26 November 2013
Funders: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2014 14:45
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 09:20
Item ID: 6528
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/6528

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