June Rowe, University of the Arts London


In the build up to the Representations of Modernity 1850 – 1960 Postgraduate Conference we will be showcasing the profiles and research interests of our chosen panellists.

Each panellist will feature in person at the Representations of Modernity 1850 -1960 Postgraduate Conference which takes place on Saturday 2 November 2013, 09.30 – 18.00, Plymouth University. You can register to attend the conference through the online booking store.

Each panellist has been invited to write about themselves and their research in their own words. The result is a special insight into the fascinating people and research you will encounter during the conference itself.

This week we introduce June Rowe, PhD student at University of the Arts London. Here June introduces her research on the role of the mannequin as the representative form of feminine modernity.

“The display mannequin is an object of applied art and feminine iconography which traverses the fields of design history and visual culture. It emerges as part of the spectacle of modernity in the early twentieth century as a figurative and photographic representation of an idealised and fashionable feminine form. The idea of the feminine ideal and its intimate relationship to fashion is expressed in a variety of media in the 1920s such as an advertisement in Vogue in April 1925 for fashionable perfection in the female form; ‘Fashion is her life so she wears this corset. La Mannequin-her figure must express youth and beauty ever because these are the very heart of style.’ ‘La Mannequin’ refers to, in this instance, the fashionable Parisian as a figure which articulates the eternal features of beauty but also displays the most desirable features of fashion and feminine style.

The word mannequin was used to describe the live fashion model of the couturiers’ salons until the late 1930s. Though in 1925, Vogue features the display figures of the fashion pavilion of the Paris Exposition as mannequins of the ‘modernistic tendencies of the mode and now appearing in the smart shops of Paris and New York’. My conference paper for ‘Representations of Modernity’ is based on my PhD research, which examines the role of the display mannequin as a representative form of feminine modernity and situates the mannequin in a British context of fashion consumption. In this context I aim to set out how the inanimate mannequin extends the boundary of the couturier’s salon with its elite clientele and becomes an object of fashionable interest not only the in the elegant spaces of city stores but behind the plate glass windows of the suburban high street, exhibiting a new form of feminine spectacle to the consumer.”

The Representations of Modernity 1850 – 1960 Postgraduate Conference team look forward to welcoming June to Plymouth University in November.

In this series

Ellen Rickets, University of Hull


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