Vogue as Historical Code – Using moving image to explore how 20th Century history is materialised through fashion
Kingston University, London
Supervisor: Mr Roman Vasseur
Email: Please contact TECHNE
My proposed research will develop moving image techniques to explore how popular fashion of the past 100 years creates and transmits meaning. Working with apparel from fashion archives and collections I want to see how filmic techniques and language can focus on the material qualities of clothes, going close up on the details of their construction, cut, and fabric, but also to reveal the historical meanings that have become associated with them through re-enactment, montage and association. I want to investigate what it means to film clothes ‘abstractly’ – hung on mannequins or rails within archives and contrast this to fashion as ‘costume’, worn by performers and connected to physical gestures. Fashion has become a shorthand for particular historical periods and ideas. It also constantly constructs itself from references to its own history. Drawing on the theories of Walter Benjamin I want to explore the way that fashion is a ‘tigers leap into the past’, appropriating past forms resonant with its own era. I want to use video to map recurrent motifs from decade to decade – how and why do shapes and forms from the 1940s come back in the 1970s, the 1990s, and then again in the present day? Can fashion offer unique insights into the way we understand time? In this interdisciplinary study I want to show how fashion’s non-verbal mode of communication points to a profoundly artistic way of understanding the world, embodying ideas in an elusive but accessible way. I want to explore and draw on fashion to create a moving image language that can point to historical meaning through affect and formal play without recourse to conventional theorization. This follows the current evolution of my practice towards ‘embodied’ forms of research and an investigation of how historical content finds form.