The rebirth of Venus: fashion design as self-portraiture

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master’s Programme in Fashion, Clothing and Textile Design
103 + 25
The Rebirth of Venus explores and analyses the use of practiced narcissism and embodiment theories as methods of ideation and creation for a fashion collection. This practiced led thesis discusses the harmful societal expectations placed on women’s bodies, and the creative methods used to challenge them. Women are often reduced to the value placed on their visual aesthetics. This pressure can induce significantly negative and malcontent emotions, radically affecting someone’s life This study was motivated by my own experiences of bodily abuse from society. In the past years I have felt a deep disconnection and sadness towards my own body, due to the continuous societal pressures of being the perfect woman. These harmful expectations are challenged by placing importance on my own body and appropriating it in a literal and symbolic manner. This study explores how a fashion designer can be their own muse using practiced narcissism, an original term coined and researched within this thesis. Additionally, the concept of a fashion collection as a self-portrait is studied from an artistic and designerly view. The goals for this study were formulated from a personal desire for creative improvement and emotional connection. The overall goal was to complete fashion design processes that result in the creation of artifacts. These artifacts are meant to be illustrative vessels for introspective emotions surrounding the primary topic of this thesis, bodily reclamation. As an intimate practiced based study, the methods and theories used are ones of self-reflection and creation. As my own creative practice was studied in this thesis, methods of autoethnography were continually used to capture actions and reflections. Visual research in the form of photography, painting, and sketching started the ideation of artifacts. Subsequently, textile sampling and print making, as well as garment creation followed. This process resulted in the creation of a 6-look fashion collection and accompanying textile collection. It was found that a fashion designer can successfully be their own muse using practiced narcissism and other self-reflective methods. For the method to work successfully, the designer must be vulnerable with themselves and consistently analyze their actions and thoughts. The burden of using practiced narcissism with such intimate emotions and topics is quite heavy. A designer should be careful to allow for ample time when using this method, as rushing can leave a designer burnt out and emotionally exhausted. I believe the positive personal growth and bountiful creative inspiration brought on by this method outweighs the potential emotional risks. However, each designer must make their own educated conclusion based on the information presented in this paper, and their own understanding of themselves.
Vänskä, Annamari
Thesis advisor
Korolainen, Hanna-Kaisa
Kurila, Emilia
fashion design, textile design, practiced narcissism, the gaze, feminist fashion, embodied fashion, narcissism, muse
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