A research exploration of fashion and resilience by MA Fashion Studies graduate Kim Jenkins
My decision to research the wardrobe and cosmetic practices of divorced women started with a story from a former co-worker. She told me of her journey through a divorce, and in correlation to her story I noticed a profound change in her appearance and a resurgence of the fiery personality she was most known for. What she emphasized to me, though, was that in her particular case, the divorce did not “change” her essentially- rather, it reunited her with the kernel of her personality which became obscured during the marriage.
Upon moving to New York for graduate school at Parsons and mulling over what niche of research in the emerging field of Fashion Studies I wished to carve out, my co-worker’s story became glaringly salient when I attended the fall 2011 museum exhibition, Daphne Guinness, at F.I.T. The exhibition featured a collection of garments and accessories worn by the heiress and, though it is not advertised as such, she embodies the phenomenon of a woman cut loose from a dissolved marriage, wearing what she wants, where she wants, when she wants (to borrow the motto from the biopic film about the historic dandy Beau Brummell, “This Charming Man”).
With stories, exhibitions and even glimpses of tabloid and lifestyle magazine covers on newsstands throughout the city as my guide, I will explore how and why women are (socially) encouraged to source a sense of resilience by re-constructing themselves physically, through a makeover.