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Manifesto of dress: Political intersections in fashion lecture-performances

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This article argues for the consideration of the lecture-performance as a genre that offers rich possibilities for critical fashion discourse, one that is uniquely suited to the material, embodied nature of clothing.The article recounts a lecture-performance by Australian-based design group The Stitchery Collective, which explored moments in history that demonstrate fashion’s capacity to resist, rebel and turn the political into the fabulous. From Amelia Bloomer’s bloomers to the sans-culottes of revolutionary France, fashion has acted as a tool and medium for great social protest and momentum for change. In contemporary fashion, local designers in Australia embed counter-fashion ideology into their business practices to offer a counteraction to the more negative effects of capital-F Fashion. The lecture-performance aimed to reframe personal consumption choices in the now, via the political fashion of the past, as politically motivated and most of all, capable of contributing to real change. The Stitchery proposed that in fashion, the personal is political and the political is personal, both throughout history and in the present day. The creative work combined public lecture, historical dress up, contemporary fashion showcase and call to action in an engaging lecture-performance format.
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Keywords: critical fashion practice; dressing; fashion activism; lecture-performance; political protest; public education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 0000000089150953Queensland University of Technology 2: The Stitchery Collective 3: The Stitchery Collective and The Australian College of the Arts

Publication date: June 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • We all wear clothes. We are all therefore invested at some level in the production and consumption of clothing. This journal intends to embrace issues and themes that are both universal and personal, addressing [and dressing] us all. Increasingly, as we all become accomplished semioticians, clothing becomes the key signifier in determining social interaction and behaviour, and sartorial norms dictate socio-cultural appropriateness. Following the rise of fashion theory, on an everyday level, we all understand that our clothes 'say' something about us, about our times, nation, system of values. Yet clothing is not fashion; clothing is a term derivative from 'cloth', to cover the body, whereas fashion alludes to the glamorous, the ephemeral and the avant garde. We wear clothes, but imagine fashion-an unattainable ideal.
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