Pre-empting loss through ‘fashion memory’: a ‘postconservation’ perspective

Tonkin, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-2347-1804, Townsend, K. ORCID: 0000-0003-2212-2511, Kaner, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-7946-7433 and Downes, D. ORCID: 0000-0002-4886-5260, 2021. Pre-empting loss through ‘fashion memory’: a ‘postconservation’ perspective. In: M. Ernst and M. Gaspar, eds., Proceedings of the DHS Annual Conference 2021 "Memory full? Reimagining the relations between design and history". FHNW Academy Of Art And Design.

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Caring for modern materials and technologies used in contemporary fashion can become an archival dilemma, especially for museums collecting the intentionally ephemeral. Degradation becomes a focus, which is often evaluated via scientific research, empirical investigation, and interventional (physical) conservation. Quickening material degradation can often heighten anxiety in conservation and curatorial practice because this can limit the potential use of the artefact. In addition to using traditional modern materials some fashion designers are following sustainable design strategies in textile manufacturing, ones that challenge the growth model. Biodegradable materials have characteristics favoured by some designers, who intend for their creations to remain stable in use and wear before organic disposal. ‘Progressive fashion’ such as this raises questions and the need for new interpretive practices within fashion conservation. This paper examines how modern material degradation can lead to new ‘material relationships’, thus enabling future uses and users and hence allowing different aesthetic views and ‘fashion' memories’ to coexist. A ‘postconservation’ model is to extend the legacy and appreciation of fashion artefacts by moving from a representational conservation approach towards one that embraces documenting and preserving the performative, wearable, and renewable concepts. If a fashion item is designed to degrade, what are the archival implications in conserving, documenting processes and ‘performance’ of the applied characteristics of such artefacts? Methodological approaches using Material Engagement Theory and postphenomenology help to introduce temporal dynamic elements that postmodern materials often show during the transient process of degradation. Object studies of a wild rubber dress designed by Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler c.2013, ‘ECCO’-Leather dress by Iris van Herpen, c.2010 and Rootbound #2 dress by Diana Scherer c.2017, highlight notions of pre-empting loss as a collection care approach, illustrating the potential benefits in archiving of the temporal aspects of contemporary fashion. Outcomes indicate creative practices of fashion designers using modern materials cannot be represented as being stable nor neutral.

Item Type: Chapter in book
Creators: Tonkin, L., Townsend, K., Kaner, J. and Downes, D.
Publisher: FHNW Academy Of Art And Design
Date: 2021
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham School of Art & Design
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 24 Apr 2023 09:48
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2023 09:48

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