Critical Fashion Studies Conference
27 – 29 February 2020
School of Culture and Communication
University of Melbourne
I will be presenting a paper on research at the upcoming conference on the collaborative project Dr Tassia Joannides and I have been undertaking on relationships between fashion and walking.
Abstract: Designing urban site-responsive fashion.
Urban spaces and places offer up the potential for dynamic site-responsive design and presentation approaches. Yet in fashion, site-responsive design practice has been largely overlooked. Despite an increasing interest in localism there has been a surprising lack of practical inquiry into how disciplinary understandings of locality can be formed and how a sense of place can play a role in fashion design and presentation. Through a case study of two fashion design courses run by Tarryn Handcock and Tassia Joannides, located in (and responding to) Brunswick and Victoria Harbour, it is proposed that becoming an ‘urban flâneur’ can be a methodology for building understandings of the local in fashion design and pedagogy. By reconceiving Walter Benjamin’s nineteenth century flâneur as an embodied subject who actively observes and produces fashion in the urban environment, practices of ‘urban flâneurie’, including inhabiting, observing and engaging with urban sites, are presented as a methodology for fashion designers to recognise, develop and communicate situated knowledges. Drawing out these knowledges, which might reflect specific material, historical, political, and disciplinary circumstances, as well as socially embedded narratives of place, could enable designers to build critical understandings of how fashion practice can mitigate, control, inform and enhance experiences (Potvin 2009) and perceptions of space and place. This methodology demonstrates the potential for fashion to expand interdisciplinary spatio-cultural discourse of site and contribute valuable understandings to how local practices can actively shape an urban context, including through public engagement events.