Thursday 23rd February

I am so impressed with the Burberry exhibition I went to see at Makers House today, I found it incredibly inspiring and surprisingly relevant to my project. I have decided that for the two exhibition write-ups we were required to do that I am going to do one on the Russian art exhibition I saw a couple of weeks ago, and this exhibition as I feel that these are the most inspiring and relevant to my project exhibitions that I have seen recently. Due to this, I am clearly not going to do a full write up here, but in the research section alongside the photographs I took, however I found the array of ideas, materials and shapes astounding. One thing I found quite strange was that in so many of the pieces there were things and ideas that I had been exploring in previous projects (though clearly to a far inferior standard) and many pieces were very structural and very much in keeping with the kind of pieces I like to create.

I found the military references particularly interesting, as this links in with my project, due to uniform’s links with suits and the fact that uniform uses clear symbols of rank and authority that are merely found in cultural references in civilian dress, as well as using the idea of complete ‘sameness’ and uniformity as opposed to freedom of identity. This included use of braids as well as military styles, and the use of materials is one thing that I will take away from today.

One thing that I did find very surprising was that I found the smocked and ruffled pieces very enticing, when usually I abhor frilly designs. However, I felt that they were done with a structure and a purpose, rather than just putting ‘stuff’ on a figure, which I personally find to be a less interesting way of creating garments. I really liked this contrast of the lace with the harsher fabrics, such as wool, and this is along the lines of what I was thinking prior to seeing the exhibition, of contrasting a suit idea with sheer fabrics to create a juxtaposition between soft and hard, and opaque and sheer.

This evening I have been researching and thinking more about my concept, particularly about what my purpose is in creating my garment. I like the idea of taking a modern symbol such as the suit and subverting it, though up until now I have just been making observations, whereas now I have been thinking about what I want to do with that idea. I think the key for me is that the suit represents the ‘box’ that the stereotypical predominantly male establishment requires everyone to fit into, acting as a symbol for things such as anti-family working hours, or a testosterone-charged atmosphere. I find the restrictive, conservative attitudes like this to ‘appropriate dress’ extremely frustrating and makes me feel very passionate about the subject, because when women wear things other than this kind of ‘urban camouflage’, they are judges far more by what they wear than what they are saying. So I think my aim is to recontextualise the suit into something that breaks outside the box of traditional male values into something more individualistic or fun.

I like the idea of looking at the slut walks and the ways that a lack of clothes is used, but equally I wanted to find a contrasting way of dressing to feel empowered as from all the recent examples, to have authority it is apparently the case that one has to dress like a man. I would like to try and create something that goes against this philosophy, or rather combines it with another aspect of dress, as I think that why should women try and play by the establishment’s rules? If you have the choice between a man and a woman only forcing forward ‘masculine’ attributes, you will choose the man, instead women offer something different and should be able to celebrate their differences without it infringing on the value of their talent or words. A period I would like to look at is I think the flip side of the rational dress movement, conventional fashion between 1880-1900 as I have read many articles where women were making a conscious choice to wear corseted fashion as they found that it empowered them and enhanced their sense of femininity. Tomorrow I am going to make a decision on this and do some more research into my workflow. 

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