Parsons School of Design
Titled IRONIST, the three-look capsule collection addresses the role of communication in fashion through the application of Richard Rorty’s philosophical theory to juxtapose the societal themes of conformity and individuality. The research for this collection began with my collaborator, Shannon Hughey, a philosophy student at Eugene Lang College at The New School. Interested in investigating how philosophy might be able to inform my design work, Shannon helped to illuminate different philosophers who’s theories include themes of individuality. After reading from their texts, I decided to just focus on Richard Rorty and his book Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity as the basis for my collection.
With individuality in mind, I focused on one main chapter from Rorty’s book, where he discusses the concept of a person’s “final vocabulary.” While he uses this term in reference to one’s writing or speech, he defines it as the set of words which one uses to interact and communicate their thoughts and ideas with others. In terms of fashion, to me this vocabulary can be equated with one’s personal style. Rorty then defines a character whom he calls an ironist. The ironist questions her final vocabulary, knowing that it is subject to change based on her encounters in the world. To be an ironist is a good thing, for this individual understands that her world is always changing. The ironist is constantly comparing conflicting notions of ‘autonomy’ and ‘solidarity’ in her world.
After fully analyzing Rorty’s text, certain quotes stuck out to me, such as “the pursuit of autonomy is at odds with feelings of solidarity,” “desire for autonomy, for a kind of perfection,” and “anything can be made to look good by being redescribed.” The juxtaposition of these themes inspired the silhouettes, materials, and graphics in my collection.
With this collection, is my hope that my designs provoke the wearer to re-think their “final vocabulary” and explore their individuality through dress.
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3 Designed as a companion to the capsule.