Our relationship with what we wear

Dress from my MA collection , All Stories Have Endings. The dress starts out a solid color and becomes a print over time (new dress on left, after about 20 washings on right)    

Dress from my MA collection , All Stories Have Endings. The dress starts out a solid color and becomes a print over time (new dress on left, after about 20 washings on right)


When I first started up this blog again after grad school in 2006 I published my thesis project. But then I got some oh so lovely comments thanking me for giving them all the work they need for their own thesis project. So I took it down. But I saw some of Erin Loechner's writing on Design for Mankind today about her struggle with her closet and it reminded me of a lot of the work I went through to put together my MA project. So I thought it might be nice to reprint some of my thesis work and also share some of my resources in case anyone else is thinking about some of these same things. If you'd like to read more or see some of my design work that resulted from the writing please do drop me a line. Also, comments are open and I'd love to hear more thoughts on the subject (this topic is near and dear if you can't tell already)

All Stories Have Endings at Central Saint Martins, 2006

Research Question

: Can one redefine how we experience design and consume fashion?

Design Rationale:

'I often try to have a beginning and an end, because emotion comes from time. but it’s a different kind of time than theatre or cinema..... it’s theatre without text, without spectacle. what I wish to do is something between theatre and installation.’ — Christian Boltanski

Clothing and fashion are traditionally concerned with space, the shape of the garment, its form on the body, etc. but I'm interested in exploring the relationship between time and clothing, whether it's the time in your life you wear something, the length of time the garment exists, or the amount of time you wear a specific item. The affects of time on fashion, dress, and clothing is little explored from a design perspective, unlike space and form.

There has always been something so fascinating to me about someone making clothes for a particular customer. I am in love with the idea that haute couture and made-to-measure clothes from days gone by carried more significance than the high street mass produced clothes of today. Not only because clothing was a more precious and expensive commodity for market reasons (oh the time required!) but because creating clothes in the craft tradition creates an intimate personal connection triangle between the maker, wearer, and the garment. Those days are fading fast because that kind of work is no longer feasible in today’s economy.

I want to explore what is so compelling to me about that sector of design and see if there is some way to keep alive the human, emotional aspect of designing clothes and dressing in our contemporary economic climate by investigating other ways of using time in the realm of dress. I think all the emotional connections and preciousness of clothing today can be related to the connection between time and clothes.

Aim of the Project:

To explore the aspect of time in dress. To consider how to make clothes that carry the emotional traditions of made-to-measure clothing in our changing economic climate and that recognize the personal and public power of clothing and dress through the creative use of time.


• Investigate the relationship between maker and wearer • Investigate the relationship between woman and her clothes, specifically the narrative and emotional relationships involved and how they can be manipulated with time • Push the boundaries of what is fashion • Explore the connections between the process of producing the garment and the experience of wearing it • Develop prints, silhouettes and texture through a process that takes into account the wearer without losing the significance of the maker • Design garments, and eventually a collection (S/S 2007)

Intended Design Outcomes:

• A final collection of 6 garments, possibly including hats or accessories • A textile collection • Interim work and design development would include performance work developed into written and graphic communication (a book or magazine)

Key Players:

Bless Collective • Maria Blaisse • Sophie Calle • Hussein Chalayan • Shelley Fox • Tess Giberson • Imitation of Christ • Nikki S. Lee • Eri Matsui • Linda Montano • Jessica Ogden • Mary Ping • Alyce Santoro • Cindy Sherman • Andrea Zittel

Key Bibliography:


• The Fashion System by Roland Barthes

• La Dernière Mode by Stéphane Mallarmé

• Second Skin by Marilyn J. Horn & Lois M. Gurel

• Material Memory eds. Marius Kwint, Christopher Breward, Jeremy Aynsle

• Body Dressing by Joanne Entwistle and Elizabeth B. Wilson


• Fred Davis • Efrat Tseëlon • Jennifer Craik • Marcel Proust

...please note this piece is © 2006 Kimberly Ellen Hall. Do not copy, steal, or reproduce without permission. If you're interested in my work, please drop me a line