Fashion autobiographies: a case study with fourteen subjects
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 16:31 authored by Filomena Natale Gasparro
“Fashion Autobiographies: A Case Study with Fourteen Subjects” creates a narrative at the intersection of fashion, affect, and autobiography. Underlying this study is the theoretical assumption that, more than a protective skin for hiding or showcasing the body, clothing is a repository for emotion and memory. It is also a powerful medium for communicating and writing a life. To illustrate fashion’s potential as a medium for life writing, specifically as fashion autobiography, this Major Research Paper (MRP) pursues two distinct goals. First, it theorizes the novel concept of the fashion autobiography using theories of fashion, life writing and gender. Second, it includes an arts-based project, “Fashion Autobiographies: A Case Study with Fourteen Subjects,” involving fourteen women and the creation of fourteen fashion autobiographies written on canvas dresses and exhibited at the Design Exchange in Toronto in February 2015. The author designed three template dresses using three iconic silhouettes from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, which the women were encouraged to manipulate and deconstruct as they wished. Thus, each woman used one of these template dresses to articulate a pivotal experience, illustrating a moment that defined her life. Together, this MRP argues, these fourteen dresses stand as a collection of moments told through fashion life writing, exhibiting deeply personal memories and emotions. They represent the objects of study for this MRP, presented through detailed description and object analysis. This MRP conjoins theory and art to advance our understanding of the form, function, and significance of the fashion autobiography.