Surface Design

In his seminal monograph, Modesty in Dress, Laver (1969) observed that clothing did not merely function as protection against the natural elements, but was also used as a form of language. Indeed, whether in past or present, tribal or modern societies, women and men have and continue to choose to wear particular styles and types of clothing to express personality, mood and/or social, economic or cultural status.

The research associated with this exhibition mobilizes the meaning conveying capability of clothing to narrate (or argue) a story from a feminist perspective. The narrative collection of garments, which is the physical outcome of the research process, illustrates the paradox which exists in contemporary society’s notion of the ideal female body. The vocabulary used to articulate the narrative is constituted by materials, cuttings, and embellishments, which form the foundation of clothing’s non-verbal linguistic ability. More specifically, the garments in the collection are created by integrating traditional handicraft techniques, like embroidery and beading with innovative technology including laser engraving and digital printing.

This project brings together contemporary feminist theories pertaining to the relationships between women and clothes/fashion with fashion design practice. It does not merely shore up the various methodologies through which clothing can be used to narrate and argue, but launches a self-reflexive critique of the medium of clothing and fashion.

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