Gender and sexuality explored at Degree Show
Published On Mon 21 May 2018 by Grant Hill
Gender-neutral fashion and clothes that explore gender politics and sexual identity feature heavily in the Textile Design exhibition at this year’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and Architecture Degree Show.
Issues of gender and sexuality have become more prominent than ever before in recent years, helping individuals to embrace their own identity and feel comfortable challenging the discrimination faced by LGBT+ people.
The journey from a male-dominated, heteronormative world to one where the public has a greater understanding of the complexities surrounding these subjects has meant preconceptions being confronted in all walks of life, as the Degree Show – which runs until Sunday 27 May – demonstrates.
“I am very influenced by Japanese culture, and when you look at traditional dress in the Far East, other parts of Asia, and Africa, you see it is largely genderless,” said Alex Nicol, one of the exhibiting students, who has created a range of genderless prints and shirts.
“It was only in modern western culture that we started separating clothing by gender. My degree show project delves in to the idea that textiles do not have to be separated. I want to reintroduce the notion that men and woman can embrace both sides of themselves by wearing gender-more prints.”
Alex’s classmate Eva Sucquart agrees that the division between male and female clothing is something we have been conditioned to accept.
“From the time we are children, we are taught that blue is for boys and pink is for girls but that shouldn’t be the case and it may not be for much longer,” she said. “The lines between gender specific clothing are becoming blurred. Nowadays, people are experimenting with both male and female clothing and the fashion industry is responding by focusing on gender-neutral fashion.
“Using bold colours and prints inspired by tropical environments, I aim to promote gender equality by creating fashion wear that anyone can appreciate and wear.”
Dylan Kiel has used his Degree Show project to challenge prejudice against the transgender community, and celebrate diverse identities through wearable textiles, with a focus on loungewear.
“Diverse identities should be celebrated. I based my visual research around the Angus Glens, which are made up of five distinct landscapes. Even though they all possess their own physical identity, they are all derived from the same Glen and they are all beautiful. The same should be said about trans people.
“Trans people are often forgotten about in terms of design functionality. This is especially the case when it comes to the underwear industry. I plan to produce boxer shorts with simple design features that could potentially help trans men and/or nonbinary individuals.”
Drag artists, avian life and androgynous cultural icons like Prince and David Bowie helped inspire the work of Joy Gansh. Her bold prints use the colours of tropical birds to capture the vibrancy of drag queens, while deliberately eschewing the idea of targeting a specific age or gender.
“I was blown away when I first saw Bowie and Prince and how they weren’t scared to stand out and make a statement,” said Joy. “I decided to look at different types of birds, playing with the idea that their different looks come with personalities, some being eccentric and others being reserved. I’m very drawn to the idea that birds use their feathers in the way we use clothes to project an image and reflect our personality, and that obviously resonates with drag queens.”
For her Degree Show piece, Erin Smith has chosen to celebrate a little-known pioneering Dundonian woman. Victoria Drummond became Britain’s first female Marine Engineer and undertook 49 voyages to countries all around the world and, using ships, maps and the sea as visual source, Erin has communicated her story in her work.
“It is undeniable that the role women play within society has been continually developing over the past century but there remains a number of questions about how women are reflected within the fashion and textile industry. My collection acknowledges women who have broken the mould throughout history. By portraying Victoria Drummond’s strong, determined and daring character I aim to help empower the young women of today.”
Alex, Eva, Dylan, Joy and Erin are among the near-300 graduating students exhibiting at this year’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and Architecture Degree Show, which runs until Sunday.
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