Renate Stauss

(Un)dressing the self: working with the tactile and visual qualities of dress on concepts of self, in therapeutic settings

London College of Fashion

This thesis constitutes an exploration of the relationship between the tactile and visual dimensions of dress and the self, empirically grounded in a qualitative study of 'dress therapy'. Hitherto unconnected dress-related therapeutic approaches to body image and self-concept (rooted in different countries and medical disciplines) will be brought together, systematically documented and critically scrutinised for the first time.

In concentrating on the sensory dimensions of dress, this thesis maintains that both semiotic and visual approaches have dominated theories of dress and the self, resulting in occularcentric readings where touch has largely been ignored. It argues for the centrality of touch to the embodied experience of dress and suggests that therapeutic approaches to dress that use both touch and vision facilitate a more rounded investigation of dress as a situated embodied practice in relation to the self. By grounding the discussion in practical therapeutic settings, this thesis aims to subject both theoretical and empirical approaches to a more rigorous enquiry.

Supervisors

Caroline Evans

Agnes Rocamora