26 March 2023, 11am PST
Fashioning Beyond the Norm: Experiments in Fashion in the 1980s and 1990s
Francesca Granata, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Fashion Studies, School of Art and Design History & Theory, Parsons School of Design, NY
This talk will discuss experimental fashion of the 1980s and 1990s. A kind of fashion, that upsets gender and bodily norms and rules of propriety and beauty, it can be read as a provocation and an attempt to escape what Michel Foucault referred to as the “anatomo-politics of the human body”: the disciplining and optimal management and self-management of the human body, in part achieved through fashion, beauty and health regimes. This talk argues that while fashion, in its mainstream variety, can be understood on a continuum with a number of technologies of the self at work in neoliberal societies. Fashion can, in fact, be in line with discourses of health and fitness promoting fit, normative bodies and subjects—a process that began to intensify starting in the 1980s, the starting point of my exploration. It is also in the 1980s that we begin to witness a proliferation of “bodies-out-of-bounds” in fashion—something that should be understood as a critique towards these normative discourses. This shift, which was particularly evident within experimental fashion at the turn of the twenty-first century, was influenced by feminism’s desire to open up and question gender and bodily norms and particularly the normative bodies of fashion, as well as the AIDS epidemic.