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UAL Research Online

From Hand Craft to Digital Technology: a practice-based material culture analysis of the historical and contemporary ancillary trades of the London élite fashion industry

Fenton-Douglas, Joyce (2015) From Hand Craft to Digital Technology: a practice-based material culture analysis of the historical and contemporary ancillary trades of the London élite fashion industry. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Fenton-Douglas, Joyce

The ancillary trades of the London based élite fashion industry are the focus of this practice-based research, which is founded in material culture studies. Hitherto these trades have not been the subject of any in depth scholarly work, and therefore this thesis seeks to make a contribution to knowledge by assessing and documenting their historical and contemporary application and significance; by examining and assessing the potential of laser technology to those trades that are concerned with embellishment; and by developing and applying a material culture framework to the execution and analysis of practice.

The ancillary trades serve the material production of luxury fashion through the small scale, bespoke manufacturing of items such as artificial flowers and buttons; and the provision of specialist finishes such as bead-work, embroidery and pleating. These trades have developed little over the last century or more and most still involve varying degrees of skilled hand-making processes; but while their French counterparts are widely recognised as crafts, they remain an entity to which scant attention has been paid in assessments of either élite British fashion or of the crafts in Britain. Through a series of material culture analyses this research critically evaluates these trades, examining their contribution to the necessary distinction of historical and contemporary élite fashionable dress, and investigating the making practices and wider circumstances of key trades and practitioners.

The contextual research not only situates the empirical practice-based case study in the field of interest but also is significant in informing the aesthetics and techniques invoked in practice. The potential of laser technology is investigated in the production of items of embellishment, alternatives to the more ubiquitous sequins, beads and faux jewels. Presented and critically evaluated within the thesis, the outcomes, a series of embellished textile proposals for the élite fashion industry, are hybrids of industrial process and hand-making techniques.

Artefacts are central to this research. The interdisciplinary material culture theory and method of Jules David Prown, foregrounding the artefact as a repository of information, has been adopted for the contextual research and further developed in relation to the analysis of the objects that inform practice, while the outcomes of practice serve as material mnemonics in the retrieval of the intimacies of the making process. Referring to a range of associated literature, archival research and interview findings, the outcomes of the ancillary trades and of practice are examined in the aesthetic, cultural, technological, and socio-economic circumstances of their production and consumption.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

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Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: Haute Couture, Couture, Ready-to-Wear, Material Culture
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 14 December 2015
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2015 16:10
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 16:01
Item ID: 8922
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/8922

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