Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice: artistic research methods for interdisciplinary fashion practices
London College of Fashion on Friday 15 July
The nature of academic studies of contemporary fashion practices is one of constant change and reflection on the processes of investigation, where the questions raised evolve in response to the developed practices. Being an emerging field, there are disagreements and tensions around the concept of artistic research itself (Borgdorff, 2007). Practice-based research is by definition empirical, and the vast majority of the literature proposes that practitioner knowledge of fashion is predominantly ‘tacit’ knowledge (Aspers, 2006; Entwistle, 2009; Finn, 2014; Kemp, 2007; Kirke & Vionnet, 1998; Weller, 2008). However, the process described in this paper seeks to extend fashion practice methods by placing greater emphasis on reflection and theory. This paper describes the relevance of artistic research for fashion studies as a form of knowledge production, identifying new ways of approaching such studies, via the intersection of the fashion, fine art, and film disciplines. I seek to extend the potential for fashion practitioners to communicate their criticality through an understanding of the effect of critical reflection upon meaning within their work (Schön, 1983). This research paper is conducted as part of the emerging field of artistic research; as such, it poses questions embodied within specific artistic processes, as Borgdorff stated, employing hermeneutic methods that reveal the tacit knowledge used to develop them (2007). Practice-based artistic research implies that the researcher documents and disseminates the research processes and outcomes in an appropriate manner to the research community and the wider public. This article addresses these methods, searching for transparency within them.