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UAL Research Online

Fact, fiction and fashion: reading the life-writings of models, journalists, editors, educators and designers

McDowell, Felice (2015) Fact, fiction and fashion: reading the life-writings of models, journalists, editors, educators and designers. In: Textual Fashion: Representing fashion and clothing in word and image, 8th July - 10th July 2015, University of Brighton, East Sussex, UK.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: McDowell, Felice

This paper discusses the different forms of life-writing, in particular autobiographies, memoirs and educative texts, that emerged from the field of fashion during the early to mid-twentieth century. It focuses upon a body of textual sources authored by various female figures who worked within fashion at this time. Whilst these texts, such as Anne Scott-James’ auto-fictional work In The Mink (1952) and Bettina Ballard’s In My Fashion (1960), are regularly referenced and used as sources of information in the study and writing of fashion histories, they have been overlooked as subjects of study in their own right. Although they are neither ‘scholarly’ nor ‘literary’ writings, and are works of commerce, these texts are nonetheless significant to a historical and cultural understanding of femininity and the fashion industry.

Yet, how does one read such texts? This paper proposes an interdisciplinary approach to the reading of this form of textual fashion, one that draws upon the study of fashion theory, history and scholarly work on the subject of women’s writing. Here there is the potential to further investigate ways in which female subjectivity and identity is both self-fashioned and culturally determined in specific socio-historical contexts. By utilising critical discussions and theories of auto/biographical writing this paper focuses on examining where the distinctions and overlaps between literary genres lie in a selection of texts. In particular it questions how these types of texts articulate a discourse of modern Western womanhood in the narratives that they employ. In doing so this paper presents the argument that the critical analysis of these writings can further elucidate histories of fashion, womanhood, modernity, labour and subjectivity.

Official Website: http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/study/history-art-design/events/textual-fashion-conference
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: Life-writing
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 9 July 2015
Event Location: University of Brighton, East Sussex, UK
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2015 16:19
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2015 16:19
Item ID: 8577
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/8577

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