Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The Material Culture of Brazilian Fashion Design - from 1985 to 2005
Author: Gies, Sheila Alves
ISNI:       0000 0004 2679 6094
Awarding Body: The Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2010
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Brazilian fashion has flourished essentially as a contemporary phenomenon with no historical precedent in the country. As this growth is relatively recent, having its significance increased from the middle of the 90's on, some of its characteristics may still be forming or too new to be readily identified, thus creating much academic interest in Brazil and attempts continue in order to define an identity for the Brazilian fashion industry. Many researchers have placed their attention in understanding the phenomenon of fashion in Brazil though mainly focusing in its consumption. However, there is a lack of substantial academic study carried out in order to understand the production of contemporary Brazilian fashion as an expression of Brazilian cultural identity. It is also from the middle of the 90's that there has been a general concern with clothing as a way of expressing cultural traits by taking particular attention to the object based approach in fashion study. Object based approach is part of material culture studies, which is founded in the idea that the beliefs of a specific community or society in a certain time are expressed through the material things produced by its people. Material culture refers to objects in general, including clothes. This approach has challenged some traditional knowledge, bringing an awareness of the importance of considering garments when building new knowledge in fashion. While fashion has outreached historical boundaries, new markets such as Brazil have appeared and with them the need for academic studies on fashion production in new cultural contexts. Thus, the aims of this research are to: Firstly, determine the expression of cultural values from what can be observed or symbolised in the materiality of Brazilian fashion designs from 1985 to 2005 by looking at contemporary Brazilian fashion design using the material culture method devised by Jules David Prown as the analysis tool. This approach has not been undertaken previous to this study. Secondly, this research aims to assess this material culture method for a cultural analysis of any object developed by Prown when applied specifically to the analysis of contemporary Brazilian fashion design. This critical engagement with the Prown method has also not as yet been reported previously. The Prown method presents a way of analysis which proceeds from description, recording the internal evidence of the object itself; to deduction, interpreting the interaction between the object and the perceiver; to speculation, framing hypotheses and questions which lead out from the object to external evidence for testing and resolution. This was applied to two designs from each of the seven Brazilian fashion designers used in the case study. This method enabled a robust amount of data to be obtained from the examination of garments. However, while it was very valuable in data collection terms, as it focuses basically upon the object or the product, it was found beneficial to include inputs drawn from the designers to enrich the data. This was achieved through interviews. This valuable information had to be placed in the wider context of the existing knowledge on contemporary Brazilian fashion design and also needed to be structured in terms of the existing debates about material culture and fashion. Moreover, while engaging with the Prown method as a tool of research, some further additional approaches were found useful to reinforce and expand the usefulness of the method, such as the identification of the object and its visual representation through drawings and photographs. From the data analysis it was recognised that fashion in Brazil has diversity in style, observable in shapes, textures and materials, which embraces a range of tastes. Colours also vary, defining a multiplicity in colour preference. Handmade embroidery may be considered a meaningful characteristic, particularly with the use of unusual materials, which can vary from pearls to wool and cotton threads, crystal beads and cotton strings, thus creating a mixture of differing textures and unusual shapes and distribution. This characteristic frequently breaks the regular rhythm of garments making the designs dynamic visually. There is a conspicuous ability to deal with contrast and balance as equivalent elements resulting in an odd homogeneity. However, these characteristics can not be completely generalised as a definitive Brazilian style in fashion as they may have global traits. What gives Brazilian design a particular Brazilian quality is that these fashion designs are the product of certain strategic and aesthetic decisions that are influenced by the materials and their potential use and the way Brazilian designers engage with handcraft tradition, amateur tradition, and/or a small scale atelier tradition. Likewise, those peculiarities are not only particular to Brazil, they belong to the designers of many countries. Rather, it is how Brazilian designers make use of texture, shape, silhouette and colour in circumstances set within the space of time that enable them to demonstrate designs that are clearly rooted in the Brazilian culture in a manner that says something meaningful about the Brazilian nature and gives a particular look to Brazilian fashion products.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available