[ Preface ]
The following piece examines the Non-linear Wearing Narrative project from 2022 to 2023 and the review process that led to it. I partook in seven performance and filming sessions over the project’s timeline, which subsequently yielded three filmic outputs.
Each film documents a collaboration and dialogue with a performer, dancer, or choreographer whose work revolves around the theme of wear and is intended to communicate a visual narrative of the stages of the research process.
What necessitates such an emphasis on wearing?
To move away from the orthodox notion of wearing as an everyday behaviour and to interpret it as a performative practice of the wearer within fashion.
In undertaking this process, it is my aspiration to make a substantive contribution towards fostering a more horizontal dynamic within fashion. Traditional designer-centred fashion studies cast designers as 'geniuses' and fashion as a reflection of the epoch.
This perspective is reinforced by fashion media, which have established the formula that the designer is the sole contributor to fashion design. However, the designer is not in full control of the meaning-making of the garment after it is designed, and the wearer is an active participant in creating meaning through the gesture of wearing.
Therefore, in order to challenge those mentioned above conventional linear fashion design, and designer narrative, this project captures the wearer-garment interaction as opposed to designer-garment interplay.
Communicate the wearer’s narrative in a non-linear method; this project uses a variety of media: Film, Photography, and Text. This sheds light on the garment's uniqueness, the relationship between the garment and the body, and the active engagement of the wearer in fashion practices.
Why collaborate with performers, and why document them on film? At the heart of this project is an incisive exploration of the designer's 'authorship' and the need to contest the designer's authority and the prevailing hierarchy between designer and wearer.
Within my collaborative framework with performers, I did not play as a single designer or artist, but as one of the collaborators in a fashion practice collective. In essence, I was not a ‘commander’ who sets clear and definitive concepts or visual ideas and oversees performances, but rather an interpreter, observer, and organiser of the site, whose role is to interpret and contextualise the performers' wears, which may expand and unfold in unforeseen directions.
This mix of performers, cinematographers, planners, students, and experts was not an arena where my ideas were implemented but rather an exploration of what new perspectives or understandings could be conveyed and what connections could be made between the bodies and garments on site and their harmony.
In conclusion, the inherent site-specificity that performance inevitably implies allows fashion practice to be attempted in the alien realms of design, such as film, photography, performance, and curation, without a designer. In other words, it functions as a demarcation that differentiates fashion from traditional fashion design, thereby creating an alternative realm.
The presence of alternative films in this domain serves to reassign the authorship of style and design by offering different perspectives on how clothes are interpreted from the perspective of the wearer.
The project, therefore, seeks to explore the possibility of fashion crossing the boundaries of design and 'co-existing' (as opposed to ‘adopting’ or ‘get inspired’ from other fields under the designer’s inspiration or designer’s supervision) with other creative disciplines.