So ages ago I showed you a little bit more of my project at college, which was finished a while ago, but I thought I would catch you up on what I did. As well as creating an 18th century inspired gown I also wanted to get across some sort of message, inspired by the way Vivienne Westwood portrays messages in her collections, for example her Planet Gaia collection of SS 2010.
From my research such as watching period dramas, I have come to notice the differences between women and the way society percieves us, between now and then. For this project I've been very influenced by ideas of feminism, how far women's liberation has come since the 18th and 19th centuries when women were made to wear these constrictive clothes. First there was the first wave feminists, the suffragettes who campaigned for our rights to vote, then in the sixties and seventies there were the second wave feminists who campaigned for the contraceptive pill, rights to abortion and were against pornography and 'beauty standards' (think of the typical image of an ideal 50s housewife) which they saw as oppressive to women. This was the 'bra-burning' period (in fact the whole bra burning thing is an urban myth... but that's another story) where feminists shed what they believed to be symbols of their oppression, bras, make-up, fake eyelashes and high heels and threw them into the infamous 'Freedom Trash Can'.
Unfortunately I think that today this has given feminists a bad stereotype; as braless, hairy armpitted lesbians. I have absolutely no problem with hairy lesbians at all but surely all women are feminists? Surely all females want equal rights to men, within reason, I mean women and men essentially differ so not everything is possible, but women are still not getting paid the same as men in some jobs for doing exactly the same thing and women are still very much objectified. It astounds me how many of my friends, strong minded, independent girls completely reject the term feminism. Anyway I'm digressing, though I might rant on this subject a bit more in the future. In my project I want to reclaim femininity while still putting across a feminist message, being a feminist shouldn't mean that you want to be a man. Or that you hate men. I'm planning on printing black and white images of 1960s feminists across the bodice of my dress because I'm interested in the juxtaposition that will be created between the image of these women and the inherent feminity of my pink skirted dress. I'm not saying women should dress stereotypically femininly but I'm just saying that they can without becoming objectified.
"Because women's work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we're the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it's our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we're nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we're nymphos and if we don't we're frigid and if we love women it's because we can't get a "real" man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we're neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we're selfish and if we stand up for our rights we're aggressive and "unfeminine" and if we don't we're typical weak females and if we want to get married we're out to trap a man and if we don't we're unnatural and because we still can't get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can't cope or don't want a pregnancy we're made to feel guilty about abortion and...for lots of other reasons we are part of the women's liberation movement." From a feminist publication in the late 60s.
Here are a few little embroidery samples I've been doing with a machine in white lace doilies and cotton, I used phrases from placards in the 60s and 70s but presented them in a very stereo-typically feminine and 'soft' way.
Expect a bit more of this stuff soon, including my finished garment!