Dictionary Dressings

Go to the website: www.dictionarydressings.com


Dictionary Dressings is an ongoing research project  that uses the nature of the dictionary definition as a “zero condition” of a piece of clothing to decode clothes and explore an alternative fashion vocabulary.

Dictionary definitions are constructed to be factual and rational and as a consequence the entries for items of clothing show no reference to the ephemeral or immaterial character of fashion. They describe the characteristics of the items, their use and their relation to the body but never mention fashion or style. Take the Dutch definition of a glove for example: “Handschoen: bekleding van de hand” (literally translated to English as Glove: covering of the hand).

In the composition of an image archive, showing newspaper images and text fragments that adhere to the dictionary definitions, the gaps that exist within the definitions play a leading role. By focussing on essential elements that describe clothing rather than fashion, the variety of possible re-readings of the definitions becomes evident and recurring questions of placement, size, material and relation to the body are revealed.

The potential of Dictionary Dressings as an activating and experimental design approach is brought forward in designers and workshop participants engaging with the approach, either by directly exploring a dictionary definition of their choice or by interlinking the Dictionary Dressings approach with their own current work processes and products, showing possible re-readings and translations. The broader implications and potential of this design approach are examined from a theoretical perspective in contributions by fashion researchers.

This new perspective opens up an inclusive playfield in fashion where hybrid, fluid ways of reading, seeing, defining and making are facilitated. Overlapping and interlinking theory with practice, it pushes beyond trends and accepted social and design codes offering an approach that contributes to the broader cultural discourse of fashion.

In collaboration with: Ruby Hoette, Hanka van der Voet, Elisa van Joolen, Conny Groenewegen, Sanne van den Elzen, Hans Gremmen, Corine van der Wal, BLESS, Onomatopee, Np3, Hordaland Kunstsenter, Joke Robaard, Barbara Brownie, Nanne op ‘t Ende, Hku, Minerva, ArtEZ Fashion Masters, Floriane Misslin, Delany Boutkan, Chet Bugter, Mamamini, Zijlstra naaimachines, KC Grad,

This research, publication and forms of activation and presentation have been kindly supported by: Creative Industries Fund NL and Kunstraad Groningen.