Dissertation Proposal Summary 

Name: Hanna Peterson
Subject: Illustration

For dissertation proposal I chose to do research around the area of fashion zeitgeist, which can be more specifically described as how garments can specify a particular period of the history or present time. It is all about how the fashion and the current trends can work as a definer of the spirit of our time. My examinations reaches between the human psychologies of nostalgia to important fashion history and brand analytics of our present year of 2017. I also involved studies of sociocultural, political, environmental and psychological aspects. My goal was to keep the subject of “fashion zeitgeist” narrow but to have a wide amount of research to be able to get a fair overview of the topic.

The most meaningful outcomes of my dissertation proposal research was the realisations and my new knowledges of how I could create connections between nostalgia and fashion theory. I collected different authors informations about nostalgia with connections between other subjects such as music, product design and emotions, health and sentimentality. I followed it up by pairing the information about nostalgia together with fashion theory and history, which lead up to some interesting links and associations.

What it seems is that as humans, as much as we like to be a part of the trendy present, we sure do like to take a trip down the memory lane once in a while to get the feeling of nostalgia. In the book Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource (Routledge, C. 2015) I read that nostalgia is triggered by psychological threat or negative affective states, although when it comes to product design, nostalgia has for a long time been used as a strategy by brands with the intention to appeal to costumers by getting closer to their emotions and sentimentality (Vong, K. 2012). Katherine Vong writes that nostalgia brings a pleasurable feeling, so especially when a person is feeling miserable or stressed, an item or advertisement with a nostalgic touch can bring back memories of a better time.

An interesting parallel between the emotional affects from music and the same from garments was made during my research. Woods writes in the book Arts In Society (Woods, M. 2015) about how The Beatles contained and radiated future in both their music and their personalities, even though, they were also full of nostalgia. An example is their song “there are places I’ll remember all my life” which is obviously about taking a trip back to the past in some way. Something that I discuss in my text and that I find very interesting is how music can tell a story and that fashion can too. Clothes can definitely bring nostalgic feelings in similar ways as music can. What it seems is that more people reflect over music and its affects than over the garments.

My knowledges around fashion history have been developed during my research and also my understandings about the fashion developments though the years is much more improved compared to before. I have for example come to understand the very importance that the Victorian corset have had for the evolution of fashion. The enormous amount of years that the Victorian corsets had its lifetime, and how it actually effected people, is something that i truly believe that more people should know about. The dangers about wearing it and perhaps most importantly, that the aspects of the body norms which was pending along with it is an important part of our history and to have the knowledge about that would most likely bring awareness to the body norms of todays society.

In the beginning of the project I had a hard time to find a subject that felt interesting and suitable for me and that I additionally would be able to write 4000 words about. But at least when I found my topic, I did not have much trouble about collecting content.

My intention was to collect a wide amount of information around the topic fashion zeitgeist, because I wanted to define what fashion zeitgeist actually can include and also to get a good picture of how the zeitgeist is today and also how it has been in our history. I do feel that I have a lot of good and relevant content, but if there was something I would work more on it is that the content might be experienced as a bit sprawling.

As an upcoming professional illustrator and with my extended interest in fashion I do believe that a wide knowledge of fashion history can contribute to my creations. My goal is to establish a big amount of awareness and understandings of present fashion trends as well as knowledge about the history of fashion.

Having analysed fashion zeitgeist, It become clear that it made me excited and while I was digging around in the subject I realised a lot of possibilities on this theme. First of all what I noticed is that there is a limited amount of research material such as books, articles and other discussions about zeitgeist as a topic. During my research I got to know that fashion theory has not been a respected subject to study for very long. It was as late as in the 1970s that the actually studies of our history of garments started (Steele, V. 2015) and still today the subject does not always have a high status in social communities. Some of my ideas to take the fashion zeitgeist further to the public is to write an article about it, with my dissertation proposal research used as a base for it, and also to make illustrations on the theme as inspiration.

As a next step, I intend to continue with the merge between fashion zeitgeist and the emotions of nostalgia, pair them together even more and end up in projects that I first of all can use my new knowledge in and then perhaps even spread it further to more people.

Hanna Peterson
19 April 2017

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