Revisiting the Gaze: Feminism, Fashion and the Female Body
Jun
28
Jun 29

Revisiting the Gaze: Feminism, Fashion and the Female Body

  • Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London

Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London (London, UK)

Keynote Speakers: Prof. Reina Lewis, London College of Fashion; Dr. Mo Throp, Chelsea College of Arts; and Dr. Maria Walsh, Chelsea College of Arts.

In 2015 Laura Mulvey’s seminal essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) enjoyed its fortieth year. The BFI hosted a panel to mark the occasion, where Mulvey emphasized that her essay was very much a ‘historical document of its time’: emerging from the politics of the women’s movement in the 1970sMulvey used the term the ‘male gaze’ just once in her essay yet the concept has become central to debates on spectatorship. Critique has focused on the psychoanalytic underpinnings of this concept as well as the privileging of gender over other aspects of identity (e.g. hooks 1992). Furthermore, Mulvey herself has acknowledged that elements of the essay have ‘necessarily been rendered archaic by changes in technology’ and has revisited it in her subsequent writing.

The idea of the gaze – whether male or female – has proved incredibly fruitful in making sense of the fashioned body. Yet, with the recent resurgence of feminist activism – being termed ‘fourth wave’ or ‘digital’ feminism – debates on fashion and the gaze have evolved enormously. Blogs such as Man Repeller playfully mock the idea of the ‘male gaze’ whilst other women have explored the empowering potential of self-authored images of the female body (e.g. Petra Collins, #freethenipple, Emily Ratajkowski). Activists on the street have used their own fashioned bodies as a site for articulating protest, through movements such as Femen and Slutwalk, with these protests, in turn, being subject to critique on social media for their privileging of white, heteronormative bodies.

Becoming visible opens up opportunities for empowerment but as Michel Foucault (1975) has noted, ‘visibility is a trap’, as underlined in instances of revenge porn and catcalling on the street. Furthermore, Angela McRobbie (2009) has argued the ‘male gaze’ has been replaced by super-strict regulation of appearance – whether by oneself, one’s peers or the fashionable milieu. The ‘politicized, hypervisibility’ of the veiled body, as well as the different gazes that fall on Muslim bodies in both online and offline spaces, has been noted by Reina Lewis (2015). Such visibility has in some cases proved empowering, but in others led to body shaming, reprisals and even to death – as in the recent killing of the Qandeel Baloch, the Pakistani Twitter celebrity.

These social and digital changes provide the impetus for a re-examination of fashion and the politics of looking. Working from the premise that the gaze is intersectional (Gamman and Marshment 1988), we want to consider what remains fruitful in Mulvey’s essay as well as thinking about new ways of theorising fashion, the female body, and the gaze.

More information and registration can be found at the conference website.

Writing Fashion: Celebrating 50 Years of the Costume Journal
Jun
30
Jul 3

Writing Fashion: Celebrating 50 Years of the Costume Journal

Friday, June 30th-Monday, July 3rd (London, UK)

2017 marks half a century since the first publication of Costume, the journal of the UK Costume Society and the first conference held by the Society. It was also the year in which two classic texts - Roland Barthes’ The Fashion System and Francois Boucher’s History of Costume in the West - exploring dress were published. What was termed costume has developed through dress history to the new growing academic discipline of Fashion Studies. In 2017 dress and fashion, history is big business, regularly the subject of blockbuster museum exhibitions and a desirable field of enquiry for academics from a multitude of disciplines. The Costume Society is marking this golden anniversary milestone for Costume by exploring the topic of writing on dress and fashion history for its 2017 annual conference, Writing Fashion.

The full conference schedule and booking information can be found here.

Fashion & Justice
Jul
15
9:00 am09:00

Fashion & Justice

Fashion forms part of a society’s rich tapestry and can serve as an entry point into contemplating how marginalized and racialized communities understand themselves and their place in the world. FASHION & JUSTICE is a daylong workshop that examines the role of fashion in challenging inequality through sartorial ingenuity. The workshop will include an analysis of artwork and artistic projects, partial film screenings, review of relevant literature, conversations with guest speakers, and a look at contemporary designers, artists, journalists, curators, photographers, and academics who explore the fashion system with a critical lens. Participants will leave the workshop with a #fashionandjustice syllabus equipping them with tools to better understand how fashion has been harnessed by marginalized communities to negotiate the complexities of power and visibility (and the lack thereof). The tuition for this workshop is $50.

The seminar will include guest speakers Elizabeth Way and Darío Calmese. Elizabeth Way is an assistant curator at the FIT Museum where she was instrumental in curating the Black Designers Symposium. Darío Calmese is not only an accomplished photographer and creative consultant, he has written for The Huffington PostThe Daily Beast, and a number of other media outlets.

If you would like any more details about the seminar, do not hesitate to get in contact with us via email at fashioningtheself@gmail.com.

More information and registration can be found via this link.

Cultural Mediators in the Digital Age
Sep
4
9:00 am09:00

Cultural Mediators in the Digital Age

  • King's College London

September 4, 2017, King's College London

This Symposium is organised by the School of Communications at University Adolfo Ibanez (UAI), the Culture, Media and Creative Industries Department at King’s College (KCL), and the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London (UAL). 

Following from the influential work of Pierre Bourdieu, cultural intermediaries (CIs) have been typically analysed within cultural studies and sociology (Smith-Maguire and Matthews 2013; Nixon and du Gay 2002; O’Connor 2015) as significant mediators of culture, shaping cultural forms and identities; for example, in fashion (Blumer 1969; Braham 1997; Entwistle 2006; Fine and Leopold 1993), music (Hesmondhalgh 2007), food (Bob, et.al. 2013) masculinity within popular culture (Nixon 1996, 2003). This early cultural intermediaries literature was important in establishing a more complex and dynamic relationship between production and consumption by examining the work of influential ‘taste-makers’ located within key professional spaces and institutions (publishing, fashion industry, etc.). However, in the digital age, today’s CIs also include fashion bloggers and vloggers, Youtubers (Rocamora, forthcoming, 2017), music and food bloggers, and so on, who are examples of new forms of labour, as well as practices where cultural value is generated and circulated across digital spaces. Further, ideas about the ‘prosumer’ and ‘prosumption’ challenge the uni-directional view of flows of influence: consumers are emerging as ‘experts’ of the flows they are consuming (Baym and Burnett 2009), as well as ‘cultural mediators’ or ‘intermediaries’ (Arriagada 2014; Entwistle 2009; Bourdieu 1984; Rocamora 2011; 2016), bringing ‘a range of cultural things to markets: goods, images, tastes, aesthetics’ (Entwistle 2009: 15). In addition, science and technology studies (STS) and actor-network-theory (ANT) have challenged ideas about mediation to include non-human actors within these networks and flows of goods. 

In this Symposium we will explore how much of the early cultural intermediaries literature within cultural studies (emerging from the late 1980s-1990s) and across a range of industries (fashion, music, popular media/magazines, for example) is relevant to today’s cultural forms in the digital age. Specifically, the aim of the symposium is to gather experts on cultural industries to discuss and analyse how consumers’ practices performed in digital spaces (e.g. blog, social media, and websites) are facilitating the emergency of new cultural and economic forms in this industry. It will be cross- disciplinary and cross-sector, seeking also to examine the differences, synergies and similarities across key cultural industries (for example, fashion, music, print/publishing, film, food, gaming). 

The program will be available by June the 22nd. 
Participation in the Symposium will cost £50 and £30 (students).

All that Glitters: Visual Representations of Dress in the Early Modern and the Boundaries of Reliability
Sep
14
Sep 15

All that Glitters: Visual Representations of Dress in the Early Modern and the Boundaries of Reliability

  • Kulturforum

Kunstgewerbemuseum & Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek, Kulturforum (Berlin, Germany)

Since few garments survive from the early modern period, especially pre-1700, reliance on depictions of early modern dress in art is unavoidable. Dress and textile representations in paintings, drawings, prints, costume books, album amicorum and sculptures form some of the main visual sources, which in addition to possibilities have various limitations with regards to reliability and interpretation. From fantasy draperies and studio props to true to life portrayals of the sitter’s real garments, the implications of what pictorial representations can offer to dress historians are innumerable and complex.

While in some cases depictions of dress and textiles can act as tools for interpretations of paintings, in others, such as some depictions of dress and fabric worn in the overseas colonies are merely akin to fantasy dress in art. Portrayals of the elite largely survive providing information about the dress worn by the upper echelons in society. However, do such portrayals depict innovations in dress style and textile patterns accurately or do they merely portray a traditional form of dress that conforms to the specific genres of the various visual mediums? Furthermore, such portrayals are scarce in regard to clothing worn by other classes of society and in many cases the context in which they were depicted may have affected the representation. The conference aims to generate a discussion about the extent to which visual sources can be reliable in providing an accurate representation and understanding of the changes and innovations in dress, textiles, fur, haberdashery and jewellery with regards to the context in which they are depicted and used.

More information and registration can be found at the conference website.

Fashion: Now & Then: Fashion and Sustainability
Oct
19
Oct 21

Fashion: Now & Then: Fashion and Sustainability

  • LIM College

October 19-21, 2017, LIM College, New York City, NY

The Adrian G. Marcuse Library at LIM College invites participation in the seventh annual Fashion: Now & Then Conference, a three day conference in which participants will discuss the past, present, and future uses of fashion information as it relates to sustainability. Participants will be drawn from the fashion industry, libraries, archives, academic institutions, publishers, collectors, and museums to represent a full range of expertise.

The theme for this year’s conference is Fashion and Sustainability. We look forward to proposals that will examine both the current and evolving relationship between fashion and sustainability. Proposal topics can include one or more of these subjects in relation to fashion or style: archives, blogs, books, business, collection development, collectors, designer archives, digital archives, digital collections, digitization projects, ephemera, fashion analytics, fashion forecasting, fashion history, fashion studies, film, librarians, libraries, magazines, mapping & data visualization, marketing, material culture, merchandising, museums, new media, oral history, patrons, photography, preservation, print & non-print media, product development, rare books, retail, social media, special collections, street style, textiles, and trend reporting.

The event will take place in the LIM College Townhouse (12 E. 53rd Street between Fifth & Madison Avenues).

Rediscovering Culture: Transforming Fashion
Jan
31
Feb 2

Rediscovering Culture: Transforming Fashion

  • National Institute of Fashion Technology

National Institute of Fashion Technology  31st January-2nd February 2018 (New Delhi, India)

The association of fashion with rapid technological advancement and extensive consumption, spurred by rapidly changing trends and dominated by commercial motivations has contributed to its undertone of transience. The erosion of traditional institutions and cultures and the disruption of the harmony between environment and the human existence forebodes an unsustainable future. However, in recent times there is a perceptible shift in the focus of fashion from business considerations to a more responsible attitude towards sustainability concerns. Slow design, green production processes, waste generation and disposal systems, management of end to end solutions and Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives with mindfulness towards ecological fragility are being incorporated by the design community and the industry. 

Fashion, as a signifier of societal change, can stimulate contemporary articulations on the dialectics of tradition and modernity in the clothing, textile and craft sectors. The pedagogy of fashion and design education in synergizing materials and techniques plays a tripartite role in design, production and consumption.

The theme of the conference ‘Rediscovering Culture: Transforming Fashion’ aims to initiate conversation on fashion, culture, textiles, crafts and sustainability by providing an interdisciplinary platform to share perspectives and practice-led research experiences on the issues and concerns, challenges and possibilities of changing existing fashion practices. Trans-global cultural narratives may enable relevant issues to transcend the regional to take on global significance.

Image Credit: Tim Mitchell, "Clothing Recycled" (2005) via Europeana Fashion

 


Different Bodies: (Self-)Representation, Disability and the Media
Jun
23
5:00 pm17:00

Different Bodies: (Self-)Representation, Disability and the Media

  • University of Westminster

University of Westminster (London, UK)

This one-day conference seeks to explore representations of the body as strange, shameful, wrong, impaired, wounded, scarred, disabled, lacking, different or ‘other’ in contemporary media.

The advent of digital media has underlined the importance of visual culture and our curiosity in representations of the body to form opinions about ourselves and others. Media portrayals of bodies can affect our lives because media are one of the primary agents of socialization (Moore and Kosut, 2010). Bodies we see in newspapers, on television and in our social media feeds are often made to appear perfect in order to conform to racialized and heteronormative ideals of what it means to be beautiful and normal in contemporary capitalist societies. Presentations of the body that are white, young, slim and productive have been critiqued from different fields in academia such as feminism, queer theory, disability studies, critical theory and postcolonial studies.

The digital media landscape is posing new challenges to the study of body representation. The Internet and social media in particular have led to an increased representation and engagement with the body through practices such as selfies, webcamming, blogging, vlogging and so on. While digital media may contribute to an empowerment of excluded and silenced bodies, they may equally open up spaces of discrimination, threats, hatred, trolling and silencing online, as the #gamergate controversy or author Lizzie Velásquez’ self-presentation on social media have recently illustrated.

A critical approach to representations of bodies and disability is therefore essential as a means of change (Bolt, 2014). This conference aims to develop a new understanding of disability and the media in the 21st century by establishing a dialogue between different scholars on the theme of body representations. In particular, we seek to formulate new questions to comprehend how the tension between non-digital and digital media is creating spaces for new ways of framing disabled bodies. 

The conference schedule and registration page can be found here.