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Fashion and Textile Studies Symposium: Functions of Dress: Serving the Body and Beyond

May 13 at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

The concept of function in dress may initially conjure ideas of utilitarianism, but dress functions in a variety of ways to meet physical, social, psychological, and cultural needs. While it can telegraph status, class, and wealth, the whimsical and unexpected aspects of fashion facilitate personal expression and create psychological comfort. Clothing may also relate to the settings in which it is worn. Forms of dress as disparate as theater costume and workwear can both function to protect the body from injury and to facilitate movement. At times, the meanings and functions of a specific type of clothing may change when it is adopted by a different group.

In this symposium, students in FIT’s MA program in Fashion and Textile Studies will present papers on a range of historical and contemporary topics. From leisurely 19th-century tea gowns to sturdy 21st-century workwear apparel, from the avant-garde fashions of Elsa Schiaparelli to the fiberglass toes of contemporary Irish dance shoes, these studies drawing from primary sources such as extant objects, photographs, memoirs, interviews and oral histories will explore how dress functions in human lives.

Organized and presented by students in the Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice Master of Arts program

This event is for the FIT community only. A video of the presentations will be posted after the event. 


May 13
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Fashion and Textile Studies
212 217.4300