Reinterpretations of Cherished Clothing

Recently, I saw an article in the New York Times that brought to mind the Fabric of Cultures project. In the article, titled The Joy of Old Clothes, the artist Leann Shapton tells the author that she has been rethinking her approach to dressing in a lockdown. Shapton has chosen the reuse approach, tearing up garments and using the fabric.

Instead of my unworn beloved clothes, I have a 40-pound knotted rug of them.

When I mentioned this to Professor Paulicelli, she reminded me of the work of Lexi McCrady Axon featured in the Fabric of Cultures Systems in the Making exhibit and catalog.

Rug, Lexi McCrady Axon
Rug, Lexi McCrady Axon

 

 My rugs are made of formerly worn clothes that moved and pressed and surrounded bodies of people I know, and from scraps left from cutting clothing shapes. These textiles are saved for numbers of years because they are ‘valuable’ and are due the respect of being made into something significant.

McCrady Axon got her inspiration from her grandmother who was a foreman at a dress factory. Her grandmother took home scraps of fabric and used the skills she learned to make a rag rug, perfecting the concept with detailed patterns.

I was taught to knit by my grandmother. She knitted simple garter stitch blankets using yarn left over from other projects. Yarn from my sister’s projects were added to the pastiche. Many years later, when I was crafting my project for a Fabric of Cultures class in 2016, I turned to what remained of that yarn, conjuring up memories of my sister and the sweaters she made.

T Shirt Project, Iris Finkel

To me, the connection between clothing, memories, and reinterpretation through craft is sublime. I have much loved garments that have become a little too well worn to wear as is, but I’m not ready to make rugs out of them. Instead, inspired by The Golden Joinery, I have started doing repairs that call out the flaws with contrasting color darning. The Golden Joinery is a fashion movement of a sort, inspired by the Japanese art, Kintsugi. Instead of using bonding with gold to repair pottery, drawing attention to the fractures of a treasured cup or bowl, The Golden Joinery translates that to gold thread and fabric swatches to repair much loved clothing. I didn’t let my lack of gold thread stop me from co-opting this aesthetic.

Iris Finkel

Poesia Scritta

Poesia scritta da Iroda nella classe Italian 204

Cucite per recuperare,
Cucite per dimenticare le vostre ferite,
Cucite per ricordare la vostra provenienza
Dall’altrove
E per creare un percorso Nuovo,
Una nuova fiaba che si trasforma
Nella nuova realtà
In cui non c’è più la crudeltà.
Cucite per creare lenzuola ampie
Come l’orizzonte.
Esprimete la vostra caparbietà
Attraverso il filo che
Accomuna tessuti come umanità

La caparbità è un aggettivo perfetto per descrivere Maria Lai. Il percorso dell’artista era incredibile per le donne del suo tempo. L’artista e la scultrice l’ha sposata con il suo telaio, I suoi fili e I suoi aghi. Le trame intessute, le tele cucite e le lenzuola ampie sono I suoi figli. Apparentemente, l’idea di usare l’arte come il suo dispositivo per insegnare alle persone che dobbiamo essere accomunati attraverso l trame intessute e attraverso l’arte pubblica, è diventata la sua devozione.

Iroda/Pagina Cucita – Descrivere il Vostro progetto
Per il mio progetto artistico ho usato felro e cotone con elementi Ikat. Ho usato feltro Azzurro e beige perchè per me il colore Azzurro rappresenta il cielo, la libertà e, in certa misura, la purezza e la calamità e il beige mi ricorda della terra. I fili rossi simboleggiano il sangue e la vita, Azzurro enfatizza la libertà. Per me la libertà di scelta è una delle cose più important della vita. Il materiale Ikat ha diversi colori: rosa, giallo, bianco e grigio. Per me anche I colori della sciarpa hanno un significato. Il rosa è la felicità, il grigio è tristezza, il giallo è il sole e il banco è calamità e chiarezza mentale.

Ho tagliato una mia sciarpa per questo progetto. Gli ornamenti Ikat sono utilizzati nel mio paese di origine e soddisfano il requisite di utilzzare qualcosa di personale. Mi ricorda casa. È anche fatto a mano. Dunque a Maria Lai piaceva creare materiali e fare libri fatti a mano, quindi la sciarpa fatta a mano era un buon modo per renderle omaggio. Maria Lai mi ispira perchè era una donna che ha seguito I suoi sogni e non ha lasciato che gli stereotipi di genere si fcessero strada. Alla fine ho usato immagini di film e musica italiani. Il legame tra Ikat e la cultura italiana rappresentano la diversità

Eduardo Marino, Le pagine della vita
Le esperienze sono come fili che si uniscono per formare la persona che siamo,
Sono come il sottotitolo di un libro che definisce le nostre caratteristiche,
Il modo in cui vediamo le cose,
Il modo in cui ci vestiamo,
Il modo in cui parliamo,
Però soprattutto le cose cucite su ogni pagina che segnano la nostra storia per sempre
E indicano la nostra identità
E indicano chi diventiamo

Eduardo Marino / Pagina cucita
In questo progetto, ho fatto una pagina
Utilizzando una maglietta Bianca del Queens College Athletics, cucita su un materiale più solido, anche bianco.
Ho scelto il tema del Brasile perchè sono brasiliano e volevo rappresentare il mio paese insieme alla mia partecipazione alla squadra di tennis negli Stati Uniti.
Inoltre ho selezionato un filo giallo e anche il colore verde perchè sono I colori del Brasile.

Dopo, ho scritto una parte di una canzone brasiliana molto famosa e anche la sua traduzione in italiano. Per finire, ho scelto due immagini che mostrano località turistiche molto conosciute in Brasile, una di Cristo Redentore, a Rio de Janeiro, e un’altra del Ponte Estaiada, a San Paolo. Maria Lai mi ha ispirato a fare questo progetto perchè ho usato materiali diversi per rappresentare parte della mia identità su una pagina cucita, come faceva con le sue opera.

Sun Youtian/ his fabric book
Il mio lavoro è un fumetto. Per prima cosa ho cucito un libro con stoffa e ricami. Quindi ho usato un computer per disegnare e ho creato una serie di fumetti. Quando ho realizzato questo fumetto, sono stato influenzato da Maria Lai, che ha usato il Ricamo per scrivere parole illegibili sul tessuto. Il mio lavoro è differente. Non ho creato un testo illegibile, perchè sono appassionato per l’apprendimento delle lingue straniere. Ho usato una parola diversa per ogni lingua, “Rien” (niente) in francese, “mano” in italiano, il terzo in Tedesco “Mehr” (di più) il quarto in giapponese … (occhi); e la quinta è cinese che significa “complete/tutto”. Dunque dal nulla abbiamo completato il progetto.

Poesia di Maria Costa- Il mare e I venti.
Mare, infinito mare,
Impossibile non cantare
I tuoi mutamenti

Ieri feroce come una fiera ferita
Forti venti agitavano le onde

Oggi calmo e tranquillo
Una brezza fresca accarezza la mia faccia
E tutto il mio corpo soavemente abbraccia

Sempre cambiando, mai lo stesso
Schiavo dei venti e delle maree
Nessuno saprà come sarà domani
Inaspettate sorprese ogni giorno crea.

Sea, endless sea,
Impossible not to sing
Your changes

Yesterday wild as a wounded beast
Strong winds agitated the waves

Today calm and serene,
A fresh breeze caresses my face
And gently embraces my whole body

Always changing, never the same,
Slave of winds and tides
No one will ever know how you will be tomorrow
Creating unexpected surprises every day

Sun Youtian – Poesia
La vita è un filo dell’ago che si insieme si intrecciano.
Il tempo passa, è come un flusso d’acqua.
Tesserò il tuo future con un ago,
Sei lontano, ma mi sembra vicino.
Sono seduto da solo in una stanza vuota,
La tessitura appartiene al nostro futuro.
Quando torni.
Sarò già pieno di capelli bianchi.
Tessere ancora la tua storia tra le mani.

John Sullivan, “Ruminations in Isolation”
Like huddled stars
In dusky sky,
Which seem intimate
To the eye,
Are really very far apart,

So act our friends
Who hide away
Their truest selves
From light of day,
In the darkest skies of their own hearts.
Georgine Ingner

Mother Earth

How much she is sacred
Mother Earth
How she protects us
Nurtures us
Gives to us

It is a pity that humanity
Thinks little of her

We are dirty
We waste

While we watch her die.

John Sullivan, Elucubrazioni sull’isolamento

Come le stelle
Raggruppate nel cielo,
Che sembrano vicine
L’una all’altra,
Ma veramente sono lontane,

Cosí I nostril amici
Che nascondono le loro verità
Non mostrano se stessi,
Nella luce del giorno
Nella profondità dei loro infiniti cieli notturni.

Gerorgine Ingber, La Madre Terra

Quanto è sacra
La Madre Terra
Come ci protegge
Ci nutre
Ci dà

È un peccato che l’umanità
Pensi poco a lei

La sporchiamo
Sprechiamo
Mentre la guardiamo morire

The midterm exam was a project to be done in steps and involved working with different media.

1. read the brochure on Maria Lai’s exhibition at the MAXXI in Rome.
2. do research on the artist. Prepare a power-point with the most important aspects oh her life and work.
3 .select one of her works and comment on it, say why it was important etc.
4. select material for their own textile work that together we decided to call “Pagina cucita” (sewn page)
We brought to class different fabrics and we discussed the possibilities.
We discussed how to compose the page, how to use threads or other kinds of material, a photo, a poem, etc.

One of the students attending the class, Georgine Ingber (Director of Creative Services, Communication and Marketing at Queens College) who is also an artist brought to class her first experiment (see picture in following slide) and we examined it together. Her work and interpretation of the themes we discussed was an inspiration.
Each student completed their page and as a further step they had to describe their project and explain their choices.
We practiced writing this text, the vocabulary, grammar etc.


The Final Exam
The Final Exam contained a reflection on the Lai project that intersected with art, material culture, fashion, poetry and the history of women.
As one of the questions, I included a paragraph with the following quotation: “Il rapporto con l’infinito è essenziale per essere umani… La bellezza e l’arte, apparentemente cosí inutile, ci salvano la vita. L’arte come la fragile barca di carta che deve affrontare l’infinito.” dice Maria Lai. Ritroviamo cosí quell’idea di infinito che insieme all’idea di legame e di relazione, è al centro del lavoro di Maria Lai.[…] Il suo filo è idealmente senza fine perchè allude al filo dell’arte che non si esaurisce mai. Oltrepassa dunque I confini del telaio, del lenzuolo, del libro, della pagina e ci conduce tenendo per mano l’ombra e tenendo per mano il sole verso altri orizzonti, altri spazi, altri mondi (Elena Pontiggia).

Translation of the previous paragraph.
The relationship with infinity is essential in order to be human…Beauty and art, apparently useless, save our life. Art as a fragile paper boat that must face infinity… (says Maria Lai). Her thread (FILO) ideally has no limits because it alludes to the thread of art that is never exhausted. It goes beyond the borders of the loom, of the book, of the bed sheets, of the page and leads us towards other horizons, other worlds, other spaces while we hold the hand of the shadow and of the sun. (Elena Pontiggia)

A selection of sentences written by the students

Veramente non possiamo vivere senza l’arte, ma questa vita sarà più triste e grigia. Persino le persone primitive usavano dipinti rupestri. […] L’arte può ispirarci, eccitarci, provocarci, ma alla fine è come dicono I russi, è un balsamo per la propria anima. Trova sempre un modo per connetterci. […]

Anche se trovo che tutte le opere di Maria Lai siano interessanti e insolite, uno dei suoi progetti che mi ha parlato di più è quello di “Legarsi alla montagna” un progetto di arte pubblica relazionale. Sono rimasta sorpresa dal suo scopo. Nastri blu come tante strisce di lenzuola che coprivano le stradine e le montagne del suo paese, Ulassai. Questi nastri, da un lato hanno collegato la comunità rendendola più forte e dall’altra per il contrasto di colori e l’ampiezza geografica, sembrava infinito e liberatorio. per i bambini e le persone del paese. Il progetto stesso crea “l’ansia di infinito” come infiniti sono gli orizzonti e la conoscenza che possiamo ottenere durante la nostra vita. (Iroda)

Bellydance

By Ilayda Celik-Reese

This series is a depiction of traditional belly dance and belly dance wear in the context of modern society. In his piece ​”The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility,” Walter Benjamin states that ​”the uniqueness of a work of art is identical to its embeddedness in the context of tradition.”​ Although the true origin of the dance is unknown, researchers have traced it back to both Egypt and Turkey, which is where the artist’s family is from. The artist’s family are in fact the subjects of this series, along with other members of the Fort Lauderdale Turkish Association and the artist herself. The subjects have been captured in the midst of a celebratory dance, in which some of them adorned themselves with handkerchiefs and coin skirts, while the majority dance without such decorations. The dance is the most significant part of the tradition, especially in this modern era, thus, most non-professionals dance without the proper adornments.

The history of belly dance or Rakkas, as it is called in Turkish, is mainly that of legend. In Andrea Deagon’s piece for ​Habibi Magazine​ she discusses the origins of belly dance in the Middle East.​ ​Deagon asserts that the history is quite muddled and mainly that of legend, as many have said it originated in the harems of sultans, others believe it was a birthing ritual or a dance for the goddess Isis. Later in his piece, Benjamin asserts that “​The unique value of the ‘authentic’ work of art has always had its basis in ritual.” ​As belly dancing has come into the modern era it has lost some of its traditional formal aspects but has remained significant as a symbol of Middle Eastern culture, which is why it is often fetishized by western cultures. Belly dance, in the modern Western world, is most often treated as a white woman’s weekend hobby or something that would be shown at a Middle Eastern restaurant. Thus, in this piece the author sought to demonstrate what the dance means to the people who have known the dances since they could walk.

The primary purpose of traditional belly dance attire was to emphasize the movement of the body. The most well-known garment of the tradition is the “Bedlah,” which is the two-piece decorated bra and skirt set, often accompanied by a veil or handkerchief. The Bedlah is always adorned with some sort of small details that show movement, ranging from coins to small hand-knit pieces. This costume is the origin of the coin skirt. As time passed and belly dance became less formal, so did the costumes. Thus, the Bedlah eventually was toned down into just a hip scarf adorned with coins and a handkerchief if the dancer chooses.

The artist’s choice in this topic was influenced by her discovery of Youssef Nabil’s video art piece which centers on Salma Hayek as a belly dancer. In finding this work of art, the artist realized a whole new world had opened up for belly dance. Since the tradition had become established as an icon of Middle Eastern culture, it now had the opportunity to achieve new meanings through its incorporation into modern art. Thus, the artist’s exploration into this subject was not only to depict the historical evolution of the belly dance tradition, but also to explore potential future meanings of belly dance.

Kimono

By Frances Lu

During my research on the topic of the kimono, I was amazed by many characteristics of thekimono that distinguish it from the western fashion system which has dominated the fashion world for a long time. I focused on the idea in fashion scholar Sheila Cliffe’s “The Contemporary Kimono” that the kimono is a loose garment shaped by the body itself and a belt called an obi during the process of dressing. Instead of designers making a fitted garment and figuring out all the construction details, the kimono gets people more involved with the garment by having it wrapped around the body and tightened with the obi around the waist to give it a different look.

According to what Joanne Entwistle says in her article “Fashion and the Fleshy Body: Dress as Embodied Practice”, dress meditates the experience of self. In my opinion, this process of dressing makes people more body conscious and therefore become more sensible about the self. I took this concept further and designed some loose garments that can be shaped using buttons, belt and zippers, which not only allows people’s interaction with the garment but also gives space for their creativity. As a result, a single garment can be worn in many different ways, reducing the need to buy more clothes, which is a transformation of the kimono’s ecological concept of using zero-waste pattern into the modern day.

Nowadays, the trending fast fashion industry sells clothes that match with anything and suits most daily occasions so that people don’t have to think about what they are wearing, they can just put it on and be ready. However, by focusing on this concept of a closer relationship between people and their clothes and involving them in part of the design, it helps them to review themselves every time they put on a garment and get a better sense of self. Therefore, instead of making a traditional kimono, I applied my concept to more modern looks. I decided to construct a simple loose dress that has zippers on the side seams, so when the zippers close, it becomes a fitted dress. It also has many buttons and buttonholes from the waist down to provide several ways the garment can be shaped. I used traditional kimono fabric on the inside of the dress so that it shows when the buttons pull up the lower part of the dress.

Apart from the garment itself, I also planned a short slow-motion video of the process of someone actually wearing the garment to more clearly demonstrate my concept. In the process of implementing my plan, I changed my design along the way. For example, because there are so many constructions going on at the lower half of the dress, I kept the rest simple without zipper or waistband in the original plan. The video turned out to be too long to demonstrate my concept so I changed it to photo shoots of different ways to wear the garment.

The Kilt

By Janine Holmes

My final project explores the visual and literal history of the Scottish Highlander kilt. I have chosen to focus on the versatility of the kilt, specifically on its cultural and military purposes. My garment will serve as visual storytelling of the kilt. Kilts have been worn by Highlanders for hundreds of years. They are typically associated with the failed Jacobite rebellion of 1745 against the English monarchy because they were banned almost immediately after, according to the Berg Companion to Fashion by Valerie Steele. However, England allowed kilts to remain a part of the Scottish military uniform. The kilt never recovered its daily use, despite the ban being repealed years later. According to Malcolm Chapman’s Freezing the Frame, kilts and the Scots themselves were viewed as savage and a threat to the British crown until King George IV visited in the early 19th century. Queen Victoria I’s visit later on also helped to popularize the tartans kilts are made from.

I am applying Barthes’ theories of semiotics to my project and focusing on the kilt as both a military uniform and as an everyday object. Barthes discusses the function of symbols and that everything can send messages to the viewer. The English viewed the kilt as a form of Scottish defiance and as a nuisance, while the Scottish viewed it as a symbol of national pride. According to Thomas Abler’s Hinterland Warriors and Military Dress, Scottish soldiers wore kilts more adapted to warfare with a khaki apron in the front. Kilts were officially worn in battle up until World War I, but unofficially worn by a small number of soldiers during World War II. Abler also states that German soldiers during World War I nicknamed Scottish soldiers “the ladies from Hell” due to wearing the kilt. My garment should illustrate the pride, function, and history of the kilt.

I have found a double-faced olive and red twill polyester fabric and Clan MacLeod tartan that I am using for the construction of my kilt. The double-faced fabric reminds me of military-grade fabric, which represents the kilt being a military symbol for both the Scottish and the British. The thick green exterior is commonly associated with having an “army” look, both in the modern and historic sense. The red underneath is rebellious and bold, which is how England symbolized Scotland after the Jacobite rebellion. Clan MacLeod tartan is a traditional fabric that illustrates part of the kilt’s history. I am adding pleats of various widths to the back, with one large box pleat in the center back. Traditionally, the back of a kilt is always pleated while the front is flat. I am mostly following this tradition except for the fact that my kilt is only partially pleated in the back to make it more functional and militaristic. I am keeping the selvage exposed on the top right edge of the kilt to show the red fabric that it is layered over. The waistband of the kilt is made from a torn selvage of Blackwatch tartan, which was named after a Highlander militia. I have attached Clan MacLeod tartan to the left front of the kilt to break the uniform olive color and add color. Instead of using a kilt pin, I have attached strips of Clan MacLeod tartan that keep the kilt fastened. I left the hem of the kilt unfinished to show the kilt’s ability to stay functional despite any damage it might suffer during war. I added a military-style pocket with a flap with a Clan MacLeod tartan border, which is my variation of the sporran bag that was worn with the kilt. The pleated Blackwatch tartan is my interpretation of ornamental fur on the sporran.

Kilt design sketchKilt design showing pleats

stitching top of kilt Red polyester underside of fabric for kilt

kilt design detail with plaid exposed kilt - design reinforcement

I added an embroidered Jacobite rose as a nod to the Scottish rebellion. I draped Blackwatch tartan on the back of the fabric to represent the traditional “plaid”, or shawl of tartan worn over the shoulders. One aspect of construction I struggled with was making the inside red polyester fabric stay pleated, so I added topstitching to keep the pleats’ form. I topstitched a box over the large box pleat in the back. A design difficulty I faced was combining cultural storytelling and military function. The pocket I added in the front both adds to the military aesthetic while also being a modern take on the traditional sporran. The combination of my fabrics rather than just using tartan or the polyester helped to blend these two aspects of the kilt.

Hussar Jacket

By David Pesin

My initial interest establishes its presence in the composition of military uniform (in context) with the human body. I questioned the following; What is a uniform? What is its purpose? Why has the Hussar military jacket become such a timeless fashion piece? In the past weeks I have read, explored and sketched multi-structural renditions of what I reimagined the statement military coat would appear like today. Much of my focus was placed on the idea of establishing a high fashion appearance through the playfulness of performance and theater. My interest in military uniform was instantly sparked upon the class readings on Barthes, who generalized the origins of fashion to come from theater itself. “ Dress history really did not begin until Romanticism and then it was undertaken by theater specialist it is because actors wanted to play their roles in the clothes of the period that painters and designers began to shift systematically towards historically accuracy in their appearances” to play and explore the imagination of theater through costume transforms the esthetic value of a garment. It raises its fashion market value, it performs to the viewer as a work of art rather than a replication of simplicity.

Exploring theater is exploring the surreal and endless universe of emotion. My vision of a garment does not solely exist in its practical form of attire, but rather in its decoration value. There is a hope that a viewer experience emotion in seeing my garment, through memory, through joy, through horror, through the ever ending experimentation of material. Yet, what I questioned was, how can I make a garment modest, staying loyal to its origin but explore the possibilities of material combinations. Through reading Alexander Tolstoy’s War and Peace I envisioned and felt it would be valuable to explore the gender-neutral experience of the military uniform, yet retaining values of broad shoulder structure, sharp edges and posture exposing back/bust structure. The novel is based around an epic war, and the relationships that exist within the environment. The focus on the aristocrat class creates beautiful imagery of elegant lifestyle. I found the novel to be forcefully lead by masculinity, much importance is placed on these hussars who’s personalities prevail in argument and dramatic conversation. I took the strictly organized masculine Hussar jacket, and remodeled it for a modern chic woman’s jacket. As an example of gender I bring up Cerankowski, the queer dandy style “The most he could accomplish was to appear non-masculine as others to appropriate male behaviors” this demonstrates the reverse expectation of male aggressiveness with manipulation. I am excited therefore to take on the masculine established uniform, and explore its feminine shape. For a garment to be gendered means that the garment holds aspects of a particular sex. As an example, for a garment to be masculine it will consist of a broad shoulder, with a tighter base.

Hussar jacket sketchesSketch of jacket front in black and jacket back in white

On the other hand a woman’s garment would likely have tighter upper body with a loose base. These of course are generalized examples of garment in the current couture industry yet these are the strict guidelines I’m looking to express. By placing feminine structures on a masculine based garment allows me to overextended particular parts on the patterns. Therefore the back becomes wider, the shoulders become wider, to create the oversized effect, with a structural hold. I tightened the arms to fit the thin (model) circumference of a feminine upper arm, a technique I repeated when altering the waist.

unfinished jacket design on dress form
I chose to use wool (as originally used) to keep the valuable function of a warm jacket, additionally, this gives the garment sharp structure and enhances the curves of the body. Even through a jacket I believe it is important to follow the master of form-fitting wool jackets, Yves Saint Laurent. I took the chance to explore the scandal collection of 1971 which presented the rebellious displacement of gender amongst uniformed attire. I found great inspiration for material exploration, and most importantly space for me to modernize this approach of adjusting the classic garment.

front of unfinished jacket designback of unfinished jacket design

I chose to remain humble with a palette and chose black as the dominant color, using multiple fabric types to create layers, and beautiful combination. I am additionally looking to incorporate personal braided details on the coat using a black wool/silk. By adding this detail I am able to contain a classical technique with a modern approach. The wool/silk act accordingly with the wool coat structure, creating a soft display of military uniform signifiers. Additionally, this action becomes a play on a gendered garment, my ability to corrupt the uniform and create a theatrical garment, becomes a beautiful performance piece.

In combining both the restructured garment, the grotesque and powerful history of the garment and a modern take on material combination I will recreate the classic hussar jacket. To explore something so simple, it is easy to cross the line in attempting to be overly ambitious. I particularity enjoy the restrained freedom, as it gives me rules to break , but I am in charge of the result of the broken rules.

Model wearing David Pesin design

Dickies

By Gray Stearns

For nearly 100 years Dickies as a brand and workwear more generally have been focused almost entirely on functionality. Dickies, in particular, has gone through many stages of appropriation and re-appropriation over the years and have been claimed by various subcultures. But the way they are being worn today, in mainstream fashion, even being sold in urban outfitters, couldn’t be further from their original purpose. Barthes argues that clothing has always been a symbol, for age, profession, marital status, and that “clothing ends up absorbing the man completely”. But in today’s fashion climate everything has been flipped on its head and there’s no better example than that of the appropriation of workwear.

The wearing of working clothing through the lens of fashion and expression has become much more popular in recent years. This shift may not have a defined reason or explanation but it may encompass new attitudes towards work and leisure and the way they interact with each other in the modern world. “Mass production of clothing, urbanization, and more recently, new attitudes to work and leisure, money, and credit, may change not only our clothing but the identities they represent.”(Burman, Barbara. “Working-Class Dress.”)

Workwear as a trend has seen art school kids, like myself, Kanye West in the same Carharrt jacket as the average construction worker. I would argue the art school kids and Kanye are doing what could be seen as the opposite of the physical labor that these garments were intended for. That being said, for my final garment, I have taken a fresh pair of dickies and made them more suitable for the modern wearer, specifically to better represent the reasons that people like myself are now wearing them.

My interest was sparked when I saw a man on the subway the other day wearing a Carhartt jacket and dickies caked in layers of paint. But this is not for fashion obviously, each stroke or drop of paint on his jacket, pants, and boots happened organically, just from doing his job day after day. There is something about it that feels so effortless and it would be nearly impossible to create without it looking too artificial. Me and that guy on the subway live very different lives but wear the same pants, and we both paint, but for different reasons. So this inspired me to make my version of those paint covered pants that represents my everyday lifestyle.

Every time that I sit down to paint I use an old white t shirt that I wipe my brushes on to get off the excess paint. While doing so I am constantly rotating the shirt around, naturally creating concentrated areas of paint that have an organic stroke pattern to them, and there always seems to be balance and movement within the design that I accidentally make. I used that same method to create a similar pattern on my pair of Dickies. I selected a muted color palette of nudes, blues, and greys because I didn’t want the paint to stand out from afar and those colors blend in well with the natural tone of the pants.

 

 

Wedding Dress

By Urey Wang

“If I had a flower for every time thought of you, I could walk through my garden forever,” Alfred Tennyson once said. Love is hard to define and find but it seems like everyone is still seeking for it. Love happens suddenly and unpredictably. Someone falls in love, then they get married. Wedding rituals and dresses are a dominant part of our cultural understanding of marriage. That is why I chose bridal dresses as my research topic. I want to figure out the connection and differences in bridal dresses across worldwide cultures.

I searched some scholarly sources includes books and academic journals, as well as primary sources from 1940s fashion designers and writers. According to Michelle Nordtorp-Madson historian, in her book Wedding Costume, the traditional wedding culture usually includes dresses, families, rituals, and other decorations. Especially in a Western wedding, the bride usually dresses in white or off-white, covered with a little piece of tulle, carrying flowers and guided by her father (Nordtorp-Madson, 2010). The large silhouette with pure white or off-white color was the most visible trait for a classic western bridal dress. However, Eastern wedding dresses have something special that differentiates them from Western bridal dresses. Usually, traditional Eastern manufacturers add embroidery, such as the phoenix – which represents happiness, wealth, safety and courage – and other interesting symbolic patterns. The buttons they utilized were usually frog buttons with the Chinese knot symbolize happiness and luck.

According to Richard Sennett in his book The Craftsman, the professional techniques that craftsmen keep and pass to the next generation are very precious and rare. The frog buttons are a kind of traditional techniques that Chinese craftsmen used to produce to symbolize Chinese culture. After I collected this information, I started to draw design sketches of my final garment. I combined the large silhouette of Western wedding dresses and the frog buttons of traditional Chinese bridal dresses because I personally like the cultural collision of classic designs in different cultures. Also, another drawing from my sketches is a combination of the large silhouette with a piece of embroidery in front of the dress. I chose the first drawing as my final garment because the frog buttons are simple but elegant and more classic. I would like to use pure white silk as the two sides of the back panel while I will tulle or organza as the connection between the two sides. The frog buttons as the closure will be functional for connecting the tulle with the silk part. I wanted to do a whole garment but I decided to focus on the bodice and drape the large silhouette for impact.

From my personal perspective, the wedding dress as a symbol of pure and immortal love really opens my imagination to limitless possibilities. The cultural collision around the world will bring innovative and creative energy to the fashion world.

The Jumpsuit

By Ash Prather

The jumpsuit is an important garment in the evolution of both unisex and youth culture. Not only was it used during World War II to allow women to participate in the workforce, but it was also redesigned to accommodate the Space Age fashion in the 1960s. For my final project, I hope to bring to light the history that the jumpsuit contains through the silkscreen artwork that I have created.

According to fashion scholar, Jo Jenkinson, unisex has been a conduit for radical change since World War II. When men went to the front lines, American women joined the workforce en masse for the first time. However, the existing style for feminine clothing–long, flowy dresses–would result in numerous accidents in factories. Changes had to be made.

In 1942, designer Vera Maxwell was commissioned by Allis Chalmers and Sperry Gyroscope Co. to design a jumpsuit for female factory workers (as depicted in the famous Rosie the Riveter poster). Later, around 1957, silver metallic fabric, make-up, and jewelry became the staple for a new movement, Space Age fashion. At this time, the jumpsuit was also used because of its heavy resemblance to the suits worn by astronauts. These are both perfect examples of what Anne Hollander meant in her book Seeing Through Clothes when stating “the style is what combines the clothes and the body into the accepted contemporary look.” In the 1940s, the accepted look slowly became women wearing clothes that weren’t long and flowy. The style of the jumpsuit created an acceptable new look for women, as Hollander previously stated. During the Space Age, the new metallic look merged the innovative stages of NASA/Space Race with that of the fashion world. For my final project, my main goal is to encapsulate visuals from these two periods of time, as well as the information I discovered in my research.

Poster: Final Silkscreen depicting the history of the jumpsuit and evolution of its purpose over time

When I first began this project, I was unsure of how to approach the final piece. I didn’t know if the best plan was written and informative, visual, or a combination of the three. It seemed counterintuitive to disregard the information I found entirely by creating a full jumpsuit, or some form of miniature variant. So, after painstakingly changing my idea, my conclusion was to incorporate my silkscreen class knowledge with the visual and descriptive knowledge on the jumpsuit.

In terms of execution, I found images related to the jumpsuit from World War II and the Space Age, inverting them, layered in text about the jumpsuit, and printed the result on paper using a silkscreen technique. My goal is to give the viewer a deeper insight into the garment’s history. The panels/images I selected were based around major points in the jumpsuits’ history, and overall facts that stood out to me during the research part of my project. This final product will be an accordion print on one sheet of Arches 88 paper, folded it in a way that reveals one image at a time. (This idea could further develop to be a sequence or storyline in terms of the jumpsuits’ history). If opening the accordion, and looking from left to right, the viewer can experience a visual timeline of the jumpsuits’ development.

A major challenge I had when doing the first couple passes in silkscreen was that the text was somewhat unreadable, as there was more ink going through the screen than I wanted. To fix this problem, I simply used a less dense squeegee when putting the ink through the screen, and doing the print on newsprint until the amount of ink and the overall image I wanted was at its most refined. In terms of a design challenge I had to face, my main struggle was deciding what aspects of the jumpsuits history to convey, and the best medium I felt to convey it. In order to solve this problem, I looked at the resources given to me. My decision to use silkscreen to convey the depth of the jumpsuit was mainly based on the eye-catching value the technique can convey. Through distortions of photographs and scans related to the jumpsuit, silkscreen can draw the viewer in, and raise questions about what is being shown. My main focus was to bring attention to my piece, and enlight the viewer on what elements of my garment I discovered through research.

 

Silkscreen closeup jumpsuits Silkscreen closeup jumpsuits

Silkscreen closeup jumpsuitsSilkscreen closeup jumpsuits