Saturday, 14 March 2015

Design Journal: Women, Fashion, Power

Hello!

Unfortunately I have not been very well the past few weeks and I'm still not great now either, so my uni work has been really affected. I went home to London for a week to do research, so didn't bring much work back with me because its hard to carry it all in a suitcase, but then I got ill and ended up being home two weeks instead of the one and now I feel really behind. However whilst I was home I managed to make a few visits out and do some of the things I originally planned.

One exhibition in particular that I've been wanting to visit for a while is the Women, Fashion Power exhibition at the Design Museum. I've become really interested in feminism over the past few years, and it's a subject that is constantly relevant in today's society and media. It also goes hand-in-hand with my project and the development of the plus size industry, as well as just acceptance in general within the fashion industry. The exhibition itself was a walking timeline through the fashion era's, starting right at the beginning with Eve (from the Bible) through to the present day. Every decade is very telling of the position of women in society through the clothes they wore, as well as how they saw themselves, and how they wanted society to see them. Here's some of the images I found interesting:

Costumes from an upcoming film coming out in the Autumn called 'Suffragette', worn by Meryl Streep. 
A Vogue magazine from 1935.
Women wearing 'Beach Pyjamas' from 1934. I'm not usually into jumpsuits (typically the 70's one's), but there's something about this silhouette that I love.
Vintage sewing patterns from the 1940's. I'm particularly interested in vintage patterns at the moment, and home dress making of that era.
Female factory workers putting on their makeup in the parlour room, 1943. I love this image.
Various circle skirts with motifs from the 1950's-1960's. I absolutely love the circle skirts and the 1950's, so I was so happy to see these skirts. Everything from the colours to the shape I love.
Marks & Spencer advert in Woman Magazine, 1958. I absolutely love this advert that I've stuck it up on my wall at uni for inspiration.
Lycra was introduced in 1959 which changed underwear.
Grace Kelly, 1955. I absolutely love the shape of these trousers she's wearing.
After that there wasn't much on the 1960's, an era I also like. I didn't find the 1970's through to the modern section that inspiring, but that's mainly because I don't find those era's to my taste. But here's a dress worn by Lady Gaga, but I can't remember what year it's from (very modern obviously), or who it's made by - sorry!

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition and it was much bigger than I had expected. I've only shown you a small selection of things I found interesting, but there was much more. And if you're interested in the 70's - to present day, then that takes up another half of the exhibition so there's a lot to see. We ended up going around the exhibition twice because there was so much to take in. I only wish they had done a book like the V&A often do, because there was so much information which I couldn't possibly remember all of, or take write all of it down.

But I guess the title of the exhibiton 'Women, Fashion, Power' has recently got me thinking; is there any clothing women could wear that wouldn't be deemed powerful? I know the exhibition isn't suggesting women aren't powerful unless wearing great clothes, in fact they're suggesting the opposite. However, is someone's power or worthiness, male or female, only shown through the clothes they wear?

I had a discussion earlier this week with someone in my class about identity, heritage, and the expression of clothes - and I guess it goes back to what I was talking about in my last blog post. I was saying how I strongly identify myself as plus size, it's a big part of who I am. (no pun intended) If I were to suddenly lose loads of weight and become half my size, I think I would lose a big part of myself. (That's not to say there's anything wrong with losing weight, or that someone's personality or worth is based on weight loss/gain - i'm referring to myself and how I feel) I don't think it's a bad thing that my size is a huge part of who I am, and obviously there is much more to me than just my size. However, I had a hard time coming to terms with my body growing up and constantly feeling like I didn't belong. Society tells me my body is wrong, so embracing my size is a way of me saying 'I am allowed to love myself, and no one can tell me otherwise.' Therefore I show how I feel about myself by the clothing I wear. Of course I'm very limited by my choice of clothing, and I guess designers get to dictate what fat people should wear - and for a long time it's been very ugly clothes, but obviously that is now changing. But the way I dress is very important to me, and I see it as an extension of my personality in which people can rightly judge me instead of making all the usual 'fat person assumptions'. (I'm not saying this is right/a good thing- a people may or may not still judge me by my size regardless of what I am wearing)

My tutor and I also had a discussion this week when she asked me 'don't you feel as a plus size woman you have to make more effort?' (she's also plus size), and she's right, I do feel like that. It's not an obligation that I have to make more effort, but I feel I have something to constantly prove. (I do also dress for myself, so maybe I'm trying to prove something to myself too, not just society?) I read an article this week on Bustle about how a minimalistic style is very hard to pull off when you're a larger size as there is this already existing 'lazy' title hanging over your head. I may never be one of those people that likes to dress casually, but that's just my style. However, the writer of the article went on to say we should appreciate all 'fat bodies even when they’re not highly styled in expensive clothing with impeccable makeup and hair. Because whilst we’ve left the realm of fat women solely wearing black clothes, those who choose to wear all black shouldn’t be demonized.' And they're just as valid, powerful, worthy, beautiful etc. Read the full article here.

I would love to know your thoughts on anything I've spoken about, and thank you for all the comments on my previous blog post.

Charlotte
x

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