Seminar Bridge Project #2: Contextual Universe Map
We were asked to create a contextual map that illustrated our 3 proposed research topics in their own contexts and in relationship to each other. In addition, we had to include sources and images that were relevant to each of our topics, whether that was from primary, secondary, or archival sources. The map needed to illustrate a connection between the 3 topics and their background.
My first topic is unisex fashion, focusing primarily on children’s fashion since it is the root of our clothing. I researched into the history of unisex fashion, finding it was common in Roman times and ancient Japan, where both genders dressed similarly due to the only way to produce fabric being on a large rectangular loom. Unisex fashion wasn’t coined in the US until 1966 when the young generation began experimenting in music, art, and fashion. However, it died off and did not resurface until the late 90s and today. Children’s fashion remained very unisex, babies and toddlers, regardless of gender all wearing long, white dresses. Then as they got older, boys continued to wear brightly colored dresses and frocks until they were “trousered”, or officially became a boy, around 8 years old. Up until WWII, color and gender was not a concern, in fact the color for boys was pink since it was considered a light shade of red, the color of the war god Mars. Blue was considered a color of Venus and the Madonna, which became the color for girls. I am studying unisex kids clothing and the emergence of gender-neutral fashion because I want to find out where gender neutral/genderless fashion started and its importance today in order to help my reader understand how we are shaped by gender-based fashion from a young age and how we can shift it towards more gender neutral in the future.
My second topic is if fashion is still considered an art form, or has it been overtaken by the commercial side of marketing and profits, focusing closely on the importance of haute couture today. Again, I researched into the background of haute couture and how it started, in the mid-19th century with Charles Frederick Worth creating elaborate dresses for the Parisian elite. It then expanded in the 1940s to include many ateliers in Paris. In 1960, Pierre Cardin was the first to start marketing haute couture and turned the fashion into a business. Today, haute couture still continues, but there are significantly less designers participating since it is so costly, and most times, a loss in profits. But as the CEO of LVMH Bernard Arnault says, “Haute Couture is what gives our business its essential essence of luxury. The cash it soaks up is largely irrelevant. Set against the money we lose has to be the value of the image couture gives us. Look at the attention the collections attract. It is where you get noticed. You have to be there. It’s where we set our ideas in motion.”
My final topic is copy vs inspiration and where that line is. I focused on the counterfeit culture and how badly it is affecting the industry today. I included modern day Instagram account , @diet_prada, who is focused on finding out the large amounts of knockoffs within the fashion industry as well as a vintage Chanel jacket and its fake copy from the FIT archive. I also found Gucci’s Resort 2018 collection which made a commentary on all the cheap knockoffs of its brand in the industry. There is also a Copy vs Inspiration chart, which has pros and cons for whether copying is immoral and evil or if it is not necessarily bad to copy.
As for connections, Rad Hourani was the first collection, and only thus far, to show his unisex haute couture collection at the SS 14 Paris Haute Couture fashion week. And before 1959, ateliers were skilled artisans working laboriously on very expensive garments for the elite, but ever since Pierre Cardin lent his name to the mass production of a wide range of items and garnering commercial success, the French fashion scene became more of an industry and less of an art form. This commercial success created a lust for labels and luxury name brands, which gave birth to the counterfeit industry.
I used a combination of images, both recent and from the past, and captions and research to support each of my topics and provide a comprehensive background delving for each topic.I used a different color for each topic, yellow, purple, or green, and decided to use thread and actually sew the paper to show the shifting connections within each individual topic and how the topics related to each other as well. I am leaning towards the unisex kids fashion as my final research topic.
In correlation to Studio, we are still focused on creating a garment inspired by a mashup of 2 of our artists. For my group, it is Klaus Nomi and Christy Rupp. I think it is important to keep in mind where the line between copying and inspiration is, because it is important to not take too much from these 2 artists that it almost seems like a copy, but to also still have the influence and inspiration. Also since the garment is avant-garde, it almost fits into the haute couture section, which proves that fashion is still very much a creative art form, or at least it is within an art university, where branding and commercial success it not as important as the artistic vision and creation.