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Title: Famous, forgotten, found : rediscovering the career of London couture fashion designer Giuseppe (Jo) Mattli, 1934-1980
Author: Ness, Caroline
ISNI:       0000 0004 5352 8511
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2014
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The process of determining the contribution of an almost forgotten couturier, Jo Mattli, to the British fashion and textile industry, has resulted in a deep study of the under-researched London couture scene of the mid-twentieth century. This thesis is distinctive in providing object-based evidence of Mattli’s response to the social and financial changes experienced in Britain post World War II, and unusual for using primary documentary evidence to trace the business history of a London couture house. Based on Prown’s model of object-based material culture research, supported by the inter-disciplinary methodologies of socio-cultural, socio-economic, structuralist and oral history, this thesis makes a unique contribution to the body of knowledge of dress history. Using primary evidence to explore the production and consumption of Mattli couture, ready-to-wear, boutique and wholesale clothing, tests and challenges the theoretical perspectives critically analysed in the thesis. A case study using primary Mattli artefacts tests Prown’s methodology. Simmel, Lipovetsky and Bourdieu’s differing theories of the fashion system, taste, and luxury, are analysed, tested and challenged. Barthes’ semiotic theory is tested against image and text, and Lacan’s psychoanalytical theory challenged for its relevance to the consumption of Mattli designs. The changing cultural status of the surviving Mattli garments is illuminated by employing Thompson’s theory of rubbish and Kopytoff’s biography of the object technique. Evidence from primary sources is supported by contemporaneous literature and oral history. The latter is used cautiously but effectively to support the primary evidence, and absence of evidence, in turn upholding and challenging traditional theoretical models. Scientific identification of a small sample of fibres from surviving Mattli garments challenges the assumed perception of luxury as applied to couture fabrics mid-twentieth century. The resulting study contributes to a greater understanding of the design, production and consumption of London couture, identifies both Mattli’s position within London couture and the reasons for him being forgotten. This thesis argues for the rehabilitation of Mattli in dress history and, as the objects provided the most significant evidence, for the importance of object-based research as a primary component of the methodology used in the discipline.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: NX Arts in general