Fall 2021, Sophomore

How do we define CULTURAL HERITAGE in today’s GLOBALISED world? Can cultural TRADITIONS be preserved in MODERN society? What cultural traits do BALENCIAGA and KAWAKUBO portray in their works? What is the relationship between MASCULINITY and FEMININITY in these designers’ garments and how is it applicable to today’s world?

Being originally from SEVILLE, SPAIN but growing up in Portugal and being taught in a british-international school has made me question my CULTURAL IDENTITY from a young age. When I was eighteen I lived one year in the United Kingdom and this is my second year living in Paris. My CULTURAL BACKGROUND is rather DIVERSE, but spanish culture has always been close to my heart. When designing I wonder if people will consider me a Spanish or Portuguese/INTERNATIONAL designer. I believe this is similar to Kawakubo and Balenciaga since they often moved around throughout their lives.

Balenciaga and Kawakubo have been heavily influenced by their cultural roots. Kawakubo explores the concept of “MA” (the space between the body and the garment) in her designs and has stated that the KIMONO has been a source of inspiration for her designs. Similarly, there are many SPANISH traits in Balenciaga’s work: BOLERO, bullfighting, sevillana voulants, parallels with Velasquez and Goya , mantilla etc. How are Balenciaga and Kawakubo’s cultural roots connected to their designs? Additionally, both designers have been recognised for BREAKING THE NORM and looking into the FUTURE. In what ways have they altered or modified traditions and have made their culture modern? This project will explore the possibility of creating something CONTEMPORARY whilst still preserving CULTURAL TRADITIONS and VALUES.

Furthermore, In a world where GENDER roles are shifting, it is important to scrutinize how women are represented. Kawakubo has been considered a FEMINIST in multiple repects as she playfully juxtaposes feminine symbols with masculine ones (e.g pink blazer and flowy skirt), alters preconcieved SHAPES and VOLUMES and questions typical GENDER DISCOURSES. Similarly, Balenciaga tackles the theme of gendered clothing in his work. Some of his designs are very feminine (e.g pink dresses, voulants and lace details) but others borrow from men’s attire (e.g bullfighter jackets). Balenciaga was REVIOLUTIONARY in the sense that he brought a very masculine spanish symbol - the bolero - into women’s fashion. Through embroidery and attention to detail he made the bolero a chic garment women could wear. I am fascinated by the JUXTAPOSITION between MASCULINE and FEMININE wear and aim to incorporate this juxtaposition in my design.

The objective of this project is to explore elements in TRADITIONAL SPANISH CULTURE (bullfighter jackets, voulants) and JAPANESE concepts (“Ma” concept, unfinished, rough) in the CONTEMPORARY world with elements of MASCULINITY (tailoring, structure) and FEMININITY (loose, fluid shapes and sensuality).

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