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Natalie Brooks

MA work

Dissertation: Black Magic, Fascism, Politics and Style in 1930s Britain

My dissertation explores the relationship between fashion, politics, and national identity, as applied specifically to Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists. From the very beginnings of the movement, uniform played a central role in the organisation and appearance of its members, simultaneously creating and reflecting the powerful fascist vision.

First, I address the production of fascist myth and the uniform as a purveyor of this ideology. As a garment, the Blackshirt had a commanding, decisive presence. The design was bold and regimented: a strict linear shape that reflected a super-masculine ideal. The discussion of material aesthetics leads to an analysis of the consumption of the Blackshirt as a fetishised commodity. Finally, considering the forces of opposition and the debates surrounding the Public Order Act of 1937, the uniform is revealed as a provocative object that threatened society as a result of its militaristic tendencies and perceived 'otherness'. Not only was it an indicator of status in the discourse of classlessness, but was also a designed garment with a symbolic importance that surpassed its use-value. Thus, the uniform reflected the paradoxical existence of the party itself. It created a self-conscious image, fashioned for the media, but grounded in political ideology. The Blackshirt, it seems, occupied a unique position, with the look of a fashionable commodity but the life of a uniform, it articulated the struggle for power in pursuit of a utopian dream.

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2008

  • Dissertation: Black Magic, Fascism, Politics and Style in 1930s Britain

    My dissertation explores the relationship between fashion, politics, and national identity, as applied specifically to Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists. From the very beginnings of the movement, uniform played a central role in the organisation and appearance of its members, simultaneously creating and reflecting the powerful fascist vision.

    First, I address the production of fascist myth and the uniform as a purveyor of this ideology. As a garment, the Blackshirt had a commanding, decisive presence. The design was bold and regimented: a strict linear shape that reflected a super-masculine ideal. The discussion of material aesthetics leads to an analysis of the consumption of the Blackshirt as a fetishised commodity. Finally, considering the forces of opposition and the debates surrounding the Public Order Act of 1937, the uniform is revealed as a provocative object that threatened society as a result of its militaristic tendencies and perceived 'otherness'. Not only was it an indicator of status in the discourse of classlessness, but was also a designed garment with a symbolic importance that surpassed its use-value. Thus, the uniform reflected the paradoxical existence of the party itself. It created a self-conscious image, fashioned for the media, but grounded in political ideology. The Blackshirt, it seems, occupied a unique position, with the look of a fashionable commodity but the life of a uniform, it articulated the struggle for power in pursuit of a utopian dream.

  • Degrees

  • BA Political Science/Art History, Amherst College, USA, 2004
  • Experience

  • Curatorial Internship, Fashion & Textiles Department, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2007 to present; Assistant, 20th Century Decorative Arts Department, Christies, Inc., New York, 2007; Merchandising and Public Relations Internship, Zac Posen, New York, 2006; Relationship Manager, Operations, Lydian Trust Company, Washington, DC, 2005