Conversational skins : heirloom 'pelts' that emerge and evolve : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
Fabric garments augment and transform the body as a second skin. This project is a
poetic, heuristic inquiry that investigates taking this ‘second skin’ through multiple
forms, transitioning between flat fabric, garment form, flat fabric, garment form etc.
In this cyclical long-term relationship, the surface of the textile-skin is inscribed and
augmented as cuts are made, and ‘healed’ through various textile processes. The
scars write a story on the surface. There is a ceremonial sensation to removing and the
‘flattening’ the skin, which evokes the collection of a pelt. Using a phenomenological
methodology the ‘flat’ and ‘form’ iterations are performed and photographed,
growing a catalogue of the fabric’s evolution.
Returning a garment to ‘flat’ offers erasure of form; it can become a level plane for
a new construction. This action is achieved by utilising the method of ‘zero waste’
design, in which no fabric is removed in the construction of a garment. This enables
the form to be unpicked, reassembled and sewn back to a flat-fabric state. The flat/
form/flat/form cycle is played out as a conversation with the cloth, responding to the
flow and tendencies of each textile.
The central proposition is that the flat-form-flat cycle provides a channel to engage in
the transformative performance of dress, while enacting a use practice that diverges
from problematic consumption models. In doing this, a unique surface pattern
is inscribed on the cloth. The process asks: ‘what might be allowed to develop?’
The outcome demonstrates a collection of nine textile ‘pelts’ with documented
progression; liminal pieces that are detailed artefacts in themselves, yet invite further
Textile Design, Speculative, Zero-waste, Shapeshift, Fashion, Skin, Transformation, Performance.