Conserving 'Designer Intent': a postconservation methodology towards collecting, curating and exhibiting fashion artefacts made with postmodern materials

Tonkin, L.C., 2023. Conserving 'Designer Intent': a postconservation methodology towards collecting, curating and exhibiting fashion artefacts made with postmodern materials. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

Leanne Tonkin 2023.pdf - Published version

Download (11MB) | Preview


This thesis identifies 'Designer Intent' as a way of evaluating authenticity in the conservation of fashion artefacts incorporating postmodern, transient materials and technologies. The term 'Designer Intent' refers to the experience the designer intends to create for the wearer and the cultural context and paradigm the clothing and/or accessory is designed. Establishing the authenticity of a postmodern fashion artefact, from a curatorial perspective, is to represent the creative output of a designer at a given point in time, as accurately as possible. However, some materials have transient properties, affecting the quality, appearance and tactility of an artefact over short and medium timeframes compared to traditional/natural textile fibres. Artefacts may reach a point where the original aesthetic intention of the designer is no longer represented, sometimes causing 'archival isolation'. This changes the artefact's ontological and material cultural meaning limiting public access and engagement. Conserving 'Designer Intent' supports the idea of a dress object's 'continual identity', a notion that connects different archival stakeholders to sustain the cultural value of postmodern fashion. Analysis of object studies further supports a rethinking of how fashion artefacts are documented in relation to material authenticity and degradation linked to sustainable biomaterials, E-textiles/wearables and digital fashion. The research utilises a multimethod approach, synthesising qualitative findings from interviews, archival research and object studies with theoretical principles of Material Engagement Theory (MET) (Malafouris 2013) the 'in-between' space of the mind and the maker and the postphenomenological emergence and impact of technologies on humans and the environment (Ihde 1995). The proposed 'postconservation' methodology supports a more holistic approach to interpretative, fashion practice, by acknowledging the transient conceptual, material and technological aspects of postmodern fashion artefacts. The research evidences the urgent need to rethink the role of archives and dress conservation, extending it beyond a fixed point in time in support of a more sustainable 'postfashion' system. The insights gained as to the nature and manifestation of 'Designer Intent' have been encapsulated in the form of a toolkit that can be used as part of the conservation process.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Tonkin, L.C.
Date: January 2023
Rights: The copyright in this work is held by the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the author.
Divisions: Schools > School of Art and Design
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 07 Mar 2023 12:41
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2023 12:41

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year