Fashion Cultures – Drapery and the Social Body

I Googled the word ‘drapery’ in which I got the definition;


  1. cloth, curtains, or clothing hanging in loose folds.

“the hall of the school was hung with green drapery”

  • the depiction of folds of cloth in sculpture or painting.

“the effigy is notable for its flowing drapery”


This idea of drapery then developed into the idea of an item of clothing having a ‘form’ and ‘function’. This looks at the idea of how either the item is to serve a purpose (the function) and its form it primarily to serve the shape that it is. In this part of the activity we were given three different items which were; hat, belt and a beaded necklace. These all served as either a form or a function. In our groups we were to develop one multi-purpose functional item using the three. Re-creating the design element behind it. We created using our items a bag with multiple straps, which served all as a function with the idea of safety and convenience.

We then looked at the idea developed my Michel Foucault which he looks at the idea of surveillance and the relationship between power and knowledge and how they are used as social control to keep people acting to societies norms and values and not breaking free. The idea that we were being watched was the power of forcing us to abide by social rules. In an article titled ‘Foucault: Power is everywhere it writes;

‘Power is also a major source of social discipline and conformity. In shifting attention away from the ‘sovereign’ and ‘episodic’ exercise of power, traditionally centred in feudal states to coerce their subjects, Foucault pointed to a new kind of ‘disciplinary power’ that could be observed in the administrative systems and social services that were created in 18th century Europe, such as prisons, schools and mental hospitals. Their systems of surveillance and assessment no longer required force or violence, as people learned to discipline themselves and behave in expected ways.’ (Gaventa)

To look at examples of this we looked at a video by Victoria Modesta titled ‘Prototype’ in which looks at the idea of breaking the ‘norm’ of society has given us. One of the main features of the video that the video looks at is the idea of disability and how the singer has a disability. But rather than using this as something that could possibly ‘slow her down’ it’s like she see’s it as empowering and makes her stronger than other people who aren’t disabled. Thus breaking down stereotypes. In one clip of the video she smashes and scrapes it around on the floor creating an un-bearable sound; I feel this is to highlight the issue in terms of making it memorable and something that you wouldn’t forget. Representing herself and her disability as powerful. Deviating from the norm.

The idea that Victoria Modesta is disciplined in her performance I feel is a contrasting thing. In one way shes standing up and deviating from the norm; breaking free of stereotypes and boundaries that society has given her. This seeing as a positive. Whilst on the other hand, she probably has been told to do this music video, highlighting her disability so she didn’t proactively create the video even though its going against society. Society isn’t use to see disabled people being empowered and strong.

This then develops into the idea of transgressions. This is defined as  rebellious; To break rules in act of defiance. Still doing what you have to do, but still being rebellious. Similar to Modesta video. Sense of influence. This idea of transgressions can be linked to the new Maltesers advert where they look at disability and the idea of sex which previously hasn’t been displayed much in media. This looks back at Foucault’s theory about the function in society and that disabled people don’t serve a function in society therefore this content wouldn’t usually be displayed. But this goes against Foucault’s theory. This could be likened to the Paralympics and how they also empower disabled people, showing a superhuman and stronger person; which I feel is correct.

From looking at people and the way they are portrayed through stereotypes, we looked at different groups that wear and are distinguishable through how they look. We looked at a short clip about the Black Panthers in which they used their hair as an identity and to represent themselves. Empowering the idea of who they are and being proud.

The Black Panther Party, original name Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, African American revolutionary party, founded in 1966 in Oakland, California, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The party’s original purpose was to patrol African American neighbourhoods to protect residents from acts of police brutality. (Baggins)



See Fig. 1 The Black Panter Party (Late 60’s)

More than civial rights. More rebellious. Uses weapons/arms struggles to fight for freedom. Had a uniform – all black, beret, leather jacket and gun. Would be identified in their community. Intentional look. Look as menacing to society as possible. Being peaceful wasn’t enough.  (Zavareh, 2016) ‘quote about symbolising uniform, function and way that they were dressed.’

We then looked at other groups of people who wore similiar clothing which developed into looking at school uniforms, prison outfits, religions then also movements like the Yellow Umbrella Movement and the Guerilla Girls.




Fig. 1

Gaventa, Jonathon. “Foucault: Power Is Everywhere | Understanding Power For Social Change | Powercube.Net | IDS At Sussex University”. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.

Baggins, Brian. “Black Panther Party”. N.p., 2002. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.


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