Rebecca O'Leary

Master's in Art and Design Showcase

This work investigates the discipline of creative pattern cutting as a method of fashion activism, to question and encourage dialogue around societal norms of female ageing. I recreate garments retained by research participants for sentimental reasons and reimagine them as adjustable pieces that grow with the wearer over the decades of her life. Rather than disguising the maturing body with clothing, garment adjustments in this work are obvious, designed to draw attention to typical signs of ageing. I pose the question; ‘What might our elders wear if we didn’t live in a youth centric culture in which natural signs of ageing were seen as shameful?’
This output addresses the need for consumers to retain garments for longer as we move away from fast fashion in pursuit of a more sustainable fashion industry. I explore design for longevity in the process that sees original, woven, tailored garments carefully deconstructed and reconstructed at specific points on the female form to allow individual modular pieces to expand and contract as the wearers’ body ages over the course of a lifetime.
My work centres around a group of research participants within my local community, all of whom are over 75 years of age. For this study, participants have loaned garments that they have retained and cherished in their wardrobes for sentimental reasons.