'Mao' & me : thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design in Fashion at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
The intention of this narrative project is to journey through a process of practice-led design research while re-evaluating and reflecting upon my Chinese culture in New Zealand. My analysis begins with ‘Mao’s Jacket’, which was worn by Chairman Mao Zedong during his leadership of China. It is a symbolic piece of clothing that has a cultural/ political/social identity that expresses some core values and fundamental ideologies of order, harmony and power related to governance (Tsui, 2009, pp. 6-9; Wu, 2009, p. 123). This framework supports and is the agency of collectivism representing the group that the individual serves. The jacket is the agent that becomes the means of engagement, while disseminating the various voices that are speaking from a new environment. The deconstruction exercise of this research project involves dismantling of the jacket and its parts through steps of deformation and reformation to expose a number of conflicting issues. The term deconstruction is used in the fashion world, and is associated with the theories of the philosopher Jacques Derrida (Gill, 1998, p. 35). Deconstruction goes through certain social and political structures…to deconstruct traditional sanctions – theoretical, philosophical, cultural – effectively, you have to displace…I would say “solid” structures, not only in the sense of material structures, but “solid” in the sense of cultural, pedagogical, political, economical structures. (Derrida, 1988, as cited in Loscialpo, 2009, p. 2-3) My design research will grapple with contradictions that exist in my own pursuit of individualism, while staying true to the collectivist principles that I had rigidly defended. There was a need for resolve as I continued with my search for a personal equilibrium that will assist in moving forward with my personal and cultural identity. According to Catriona Mackenzie, there are three interrelated suggestions concerning self-definition: “Point of view” – your beliefs, emotions and desires; “values”– what you care about or what really matters to you; and “self-conception” – how you see yourself, the ideal future self (Mackenzie, 2005, p. 284). This increased understanding of my resolve provides a greater cultural acknowledgment and design position.
Mao suit, Clothing, China, Individualism vs collectivism, Clothing and politics, Jacket, Deconstruction, Fashion