Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Relational style: Craft as social identity in Australian fashion

Relational style: Craft as social identity in Australian fashion
by Jess Berry  
Women’s ensemble, 1980. Jenny Kee (designer), Jane Ayres (knitter), Flamingo Park, Sydney (manufacturer). From Free online craft+design enquiry Journal Issue 4

Abstract: Hierarchical schemas that devalue craft in relation to art and design practices are less prevalent within fashion discourse, as exquisite hand-craftsmanship continues to be inextricably linked to high fashion. This paper contends that the reciprocity between art, design and craft that occurs in fashion can be better understood if one considers examples outside the confines of Parisian couture. In particular, this paper focuses on the context of Australian dress, where the presence of visibly crafted elements is often associated with artistic mechanisms of critique.
The paper surveys examples of historic and current practice to argue that ‘craft’ has become a ‘style’ associated with art, and that this style can be seen as ‘relational’ in that it creates a social space of recognition. I will use the examples of Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson from the 1970s and 1980s and contemporary label Romance Was Born to establish the presence of ‘visible craft’ as a style within Australian fashion. Comparing these practices, I argue that, in Australian fashion, visible craft is an aesthetic form that produces shared social identities of humour, kitsch and larrikinism.Read Complete paper

Full paper published in craft + design enquiry; Issue 4, 2012 Relational Craft and Design

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