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Fashion & Politics: the second annual LCF Research Hubs conference


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Published date
09 June 2014

The second annual LCF Research Hubs Conference took place last week, engaging with the topic of fashion and politics. London College of Fashion has seven research hubs; investigating fashion in the very widest sense, their focus ranges from history to pedagogy, media to performance, brand management and more. The hubs came together to curate a diverse programme of speakers, with presentations from LCF research staff and students as well as visiting academics.

The opening session, entitled ‘Fashion and Politics’, was delivered by keynote speaker and Visiting Professor at LCF Elizabeth Wilson, an independent scholar and author known for her writing on feminism and popular culture. Wilson presented a brief history of class and political dress, from the French Revolution and the ‘costumed poverty’ of bohemians, to Yves Saint Laurent’s Beatnik collection, which co-opted the styles of students and dissidents, to the present day ‘politics of personality’ epitomised by The Sartorialist street-style blog. Wilson noted that, due to the breakdown of accepted and expected class dress codes, it is harder today than ever before to mark yourself out as a dissident; to wear your politics on your sleeve. Giving the example of a wealthy man wearing jeans and trainers to the opera, she also suggested that it is now much harder to decipher appropriate dress for formal events than in the past, when fashion was policed more rigorously.

During the day, attendees heard about Marx and his overcoat, sewing machines and the exploitation of garment workers (Dr Tony Sullivan); the American Civil War and the Massachusetts 54th, the first battalion of black men, and John S Rock, the Taksim Square demonstrations and Istanbul Pride (Serkan Delice); Roma culture and stereotypes in socialist Yugoslavia, through the Aleksandar Petrovic film “I Even Met Happy Gypsies” (Vlastimir Sudar); teenage rebellion and fashion in post-war socialist Europe (Dr Djurdja Bartlett); eugenics, gender and fashion magazines in inter-war Romania (Sonia Andras); ‘Aware: Art, Fashion and Identity’, a Royal Academy of the Arts exhibition (Lucy Orta); the contradictions and cruelties of capitalism, epitomised by the fashion industry (Tansy Hoskins); and class, aspiration, respect and pop music videos (Professor Lorraine Gamman, CSM lecturer).

Many attendees joined in on Twitter. You can view the stream of comments by viewing the hashtag, #fashpolitics.

London College of Fashion has seven research hubs and two research centres: