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Leanne Wierzba

MA work

Title of dissertation: But, Is It Modern?: Fashion and Technology in Mid-century Manhattan


Technology has played an increasingly pervasive and evermore intimate role in our lives throughout the twentieth century. My research is focused on the formative relationship between technology, ideology, culture and materiality, and attempts to draw out some of the systems of investment and exchange which ultimately help shape the ways in which objects are interpreted and designed. Previous research has addressed the portable radio-cassette player / recorder, or boombox, as a composite technology that brought together various developments in music recording and playback as well as two competing legal strategies for protecting innovation, patent and copyright law, which were played out in a battle between electronics corporations, record companies and users.


My dissertation focuses on the emergence of American fashion in the post-World War II period, not only as a style but also as the dominant model for what has become an increasingly global industry. My emphasis is on production, however addressing it primarily within the cultural context of industry. The introduction of synthetic fibres by large chemical corporations was vital to the development of the mass-market American look, as was the vigilant campaigning of industry taste-makers, who fought against the lowest common denominator in design. This paper addresses fashion in the context of twentieth-century technological developments and emphasises the mediating role of nationalist and modernist discourse.


Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2011

  • Title of dissertation: But, Is It Modern?: Fashion and Technology in Mid-century Manhattan


    Technology has played an increasingly pervasive and evermore intimate role in our lives throughout the twentieth century. My research is focused on the formative relationship between technology, ideology, culture and materiality, and attempts to draw out some of the systems of investment and exchange which ultimately help shape the ways in which objects are interpreted and designed. Previous research has addressed the portable radio-cassette player / recorder, or boombox, as a composite technology that brought together various developments in music recording and playback as well as two competing legal strategies for protecting innovation, patent and copyright law, which were played out in a battle between electronics corporations, record companies and users.


    My dissertation focuses on the emergence of American fashion in the post-World War II period, not only as a style but also as the dominant model for what has become an increasingly global industry. My emphasis is on production, however addressing it primarily within the cultural context of industry. The introduction of synthetic fibres by large chemical corporations was vital to the development of the mass-market American look, as was the vigilant campaigning of industry taste-makers, who fought against the lowest common denominator in design. This paper addresses fashion in the context of twentieth-century technological developments and emphasises the mediating role of nationalist and modernist discourse.


  • Degrees

  • Graduate Diploma, Fashion Design, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, USA, 2007
  • Experience

  • Freelance journalist, San Francisco, Paris, London, 2006-11; Curatorial assistant, London College of Fashion, London, 2010-present; Curatorial internship, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2010-present
  • Awards

  • Winner, Clive Wainwright Memorial Prize, 2010