Assistant Professor Francesca Granata Contributes to Journal of Design History

Image courtesy of Maison Margiela


Francesca Granata, Assistant Professor of Fashion Studies published “Deconstruction Fashion: Carnival and the Grotesque” in the Journal of Design History (Oxford University Press). The article examines the work known as ‘deconstruction’ fashion or alternatively as ‘deconstructionist’ or ‘deconstructivist’ fashion. It constitutes the first study to recuperate the carnivalesque and grotesque element of fashion that has been identified under this rubric.

It does so with a particular focus on the work of Martin Margiela, the designer for whom the term was coined and who is arguably its most visible exponent. Through research in museum collections and libraries, it identifies the way the term began to be used in relation to fashion within the English language and traces its initial reception within the press to Bill Cunningham. Building on previous academic writings on the topic of deconstruction fashion in general and Margiela’s work in particular, the article argues that Margiela’s play with the function of clothes and accessories, their unfinished nature and denial of seamlessness not only dovetails with Jacques Derrida’s refusal of closure and stable meaning, but also with Mikhail Bakhtin’s ideas of the carnivalesque and the ever-becoming unfinished nature of the grotesque. It does so through a close analysis of a range of garments and accessories by the Belgian designer, with a particular focus on his oversized and enlarged collections, which in their strategies of alterations of scale, garments’ inversions and play with functionality are aligned with a Bakhtinian understanding of the grotesque as the ultimate expression of the carnival spirit.

Read the full article Here.




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