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Date 23.09.2015
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Suzana Avelar & Beatriz Ferreira Pires


Prof Dr Suzana Avelar and Prof Dr Beatriz Ferreira Pires, University of São Paulo – Brazil

When we understand fashion as the way we relate to each other through our clothed body, in a determined space, in everyday life, we may consider this term as part of our behavior. This approach allows us to understand fashion in other senses, including or not the system of fashion industry. In this way, as professors, we have been observating how important fashion presents itself in the contemporary world as a strong path to contribute for a more equal society, in terms of gender and bodies. How can we contribute for issues like those when we consider fashion as a way of constructing our social and cultural being (Wilson, 1992)? How can we propose a discussion about gender and bodies concerning theory, creative and technical disciplines?

At firts, this proposal is to insert theory, lectures and research practices to discuss gender and the fashion industry when we have to determine segments (masculine, feminine) and pattern system (bidimensional and moulage).
For any discipline in fashion education, we should broader the understanding of gender, beyond a limited comprehension of “masculine” and “feminine”, built in a patriarcal society. Many authors could be contemplated, such as Judith Butler with the idea of “performative gender”, besides Simone de Beauvoir (2009) when argues about the idea that biology justifies the separation of sexes. To understand that we become cisgender, trans, homo, hetero and so on, may help to change the segments of fashion industry.

Body practices
Along this discussion, we bring another topic to be criticized which is the body pattern exercised all over the world in fashion images. Undoubtly we have been seeing some efforts to amplify the visibility of diferente bodies. But beyond that, we suggest that we consider what is called “people with disabilities” and also, body modofication, reasoning about the autonomy that every individual must have to composse his/hers body figure. In this sense, we understand that fashion course, mainly the discipline of “Collection project”, has great responsability regarding the way that body is seen, considerated and accepted. It is in fashion practice that the idea of an ideal body is built and maintained, that a certain temporary beauty standard is both imposed and consolidated. Such imposition (which is not only about textile material, ornaments and easyly removable accessories), seems to induce more and more the individual (and producing into him/ her) a necessity of going through the many process of medical/aesthetics techniques.
A break of the beauty standard seems to be attatched to the perception that the world is composed by multiple bodies that constitute themselves as inate diversity, as well as accidental and acquired diversities. These last ones can be real through individual desires that do not compactuate with the standardization of bodies. To notice and realise the diverse is to unveal the modus operandi which privilegies uniformization, normatization and categorizing practices.
This could include mobility, accessibility, and fitting contemplating the plurality of bodies.
In this sense, pattern and textile production techniques may be considered, as well as sustainable process and technology, which contribute for creative and production in a more broad aspects. Using creation of a pattern system combined with knitting softwares, may dress many kinds and types of bodies as well as genders. As knitted textiles are capable of stretching and fitting diverses forms, it could be a complex and helpful way to contemplate bodies and figures in many different compositions.

Notice your surrounding
In order to explore our own paths and realize our particularities, we propose an exercise researching peculiarities in our regular walks through the city where we live.
This is suggested to enhance our eyes with respect and care with our places as we bring life and compose the city. At the end, obviously, the students come up with the images that they produce, presenting textures, table of colors, forms and volumes, as well as project of fabrics.
We intend to show some images of the work we have already done with students.

This proposal aimed to bring the discussion of gender and body practices for students of fashion design, contributing for a more equal society regarding authonomy for the individuals to buy and create his/ hers own figure. The discussion also contemplates an ideal to spread different kinds of gender and bodies, through fashion and its industry, once we understood fashion as an every day practice that acts as an element to turn particular references into common social ones.


Suzana AvelarSuzana Avelar is graduated in Fashion Design, with master and doctor degree in Communication and Semiotics.

She worked in the Project “A mão na moda” (Hands in fashion), from Museum A CASA, with lace makers from Piauí, Brazil. Author of the book “Moda, globalizaçãoo e novas tecnologias”, she is Professor at the University of São Paulo, in Textile and Fashion graduation and master courses.




Beatriz Ferreira Pires:Beatriz Ferreira Pires: Architet, visual artist, professor and researcher in Fashion and Textile course, at University of São Paulo. Post-Doc in Fashion, culture and art course (SENAC); doctor degree in Education, Knowlogdement , language and art (UNICAMP); master degree at Art Institut (UNICAMP).

Author of: “O Corpo como Suporte da Arte”. SENAC, 2005; “Corpo Inciso, Vazado, Transmudado – Inscrições e Temporalidades”.
Annablume/FAPESP, 2009.