Fashion Theory: Studying the how and why

This time last year, I sat down with a bunch of strangers who were all about to embark on a similar journey to me. All with different backgrounds, we had a common goal. Whether we’d studied literature, history, business or design; were working as designers, trend analysts or university administrators; had an interest in sustainability, luxury brands, tailoring or lingerie – we had one thing in common. We were interested in studying the hows and whys of fashion.

Academic books on Lori's bookshelvesHow garments are made and why they are worn. How identities are shaped and how subcultures or tribes are formed. Why people ‘read’ fashion images the way they do, whether or not its on a conscious level. In order to do this, we’d all enrolled on the MA History and Culture of Fashion course at London College of Fashion and were meeting each other for the first time. As a part-time student, I did the same thing all over again yesterday, meeting a new and equally fascinating group of individuals keen on researching one tiny aspect of the giant topic that is fashion, dress and the clothed body.

Over the last year I have learnt about trickle down theory, semiotics, field theory, discourse, and queer theory – applying many fascinating aspects of cultural studies to an assortment of fashion topics. I was taught Jules Prown’s material culture method of object analysis and then went on to write an essay on a fantastic vintage girdle that I owned. Afterwards, I donated the garment and a copy of my essay to the LCF archives. I have attended some fascinating guest lectures given by some amazing speakers, have attended in-depth conferences, was a student advisor for an academic publisher, and have live tweeted the Costume Society’s study day on Music, Fashion & Fantasy.

This year I will be learning more about fashion as a field of academic research and exhibitions, plus I will be listening to guest lecturers cover many aspects of the way fashion is and was promoted. Two more essays and a Masters project proposal before it’s… dissertation time! I’ll be handing in at the start of December 2014 so there’s still a long way to go, but it’s been one hell of a journey so far.