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Title: Constructing a narrative of fashion practice as inquiry
Author: Norris-Reeves, Suzie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 741X
Awarding Body: Royal College of Art
Current Institution: Royal College of Art
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation is a written component of a thesis, which was developed and articulated over four years in the construction of a narrative of the fashion designer and their practice. The hypothesis developed by the fashion designer as practitioner, is that it is both possible and necessary, by careful notation and reflective practice, to arrive at a better understanding of the fashion design practitioners cognitive and behavioural reasoning through the creative practice process than exists in current literature and archive. In comparison with the archiving of materials that testify to the complexity of creativity in painting, sculpture and orchestral composition, for example, the archiving of the process and practice of fashion design is negligible. Collections of designers' ephemera often constitute little more than ‘the retrospective’ or materials of celebrity culture that further mystify the 'author function' role (Foucault, 1969, p.113-138) of the fashion design practitioner. This research aims to suggest a critical visual method for and in support of constructing a narrative of fashion practice as it is lived towards a new culture of compiling, recording, noting, classifying and analysing the tacit process of the fashion design practitioners relationship to their practice. The practice therefore comprises the designing, draping, cutting and making of an eight-piece collection of fashion womenswear. The research comprises extensive documentation of the (research) practitioner’s subjective-objective1 dialogues as purposeful acts of thought (Burnette, 2009b) and action whilst developing a body of creative work. In addition to the researcher's journey this narrative inquiry extends documentation to include the responses of five other practitioners as willing participants in the project aim: to develop a new research method for documenting and understanding the fashion design practitioners cognitive and behavioural narratives. Whereas there is a significant literature on design theory written by theorists and not necessarily practitioners, and a considerable literature on fashion as object of sociological, historical, cultural, anthropological, semiotic, psychological, political, philosophical, economic study, there exists almost no serious study of fashion design practice from the perspective of the fashion designer (as practitioner). This research aims, without artificial abstraction of the creative practice from its cultural and social milieu, to start a serious, scholarly, rigorous study of fashion practice as design method. It may be that such method will be met with reactions that it could meddle with the illusion of a designer's intuitive sense of knowing and that it is an unwelcome complication of what should remain an invisible or tacit (because as yet unrecognised) process. The aim of the research is to develop a method that can be customised and adopted by the fashion design and design research communities and fashion designers in training and in professional practice, to understand more about their creative practice process in both cognitive and behavioural terms. To this end I use the forms of auto ethnography to collect data through sketchbook work, diarised journals, photographic and film reportage and interview in order to consider how a method of (doing) practice may refer to theories of practice. Literary theory of Bakhtin is offered as an example of a dialogical method to consider how the process of fashion practice can be considered as communicable knowledge. The Kantian philosophy of the 'a priori' knowledge and Foucault’s relational systems of thought and knowledge are also offered as discourse and a foundation of thought that structures the tacit dialogues in the here and now as a telling of a knowing of a doing of fashion practice. The written dissertation is a text, which co-exists with the narrative traced through the making and visual realisation of the collection exhibited and photographed at the viva voce (Figure 1 & Appendix H).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: W230 Clothing/Fashion Design