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Re-Make, Re-Model, Re-Define: Fashioning a Nations Identity

Bednall, Anthony (2019) Re-Make, Re-Model, Re-Define: Fashioning a Nations Identity. In: Patternmaking History and Theory. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781350062641 (Unpublished)

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Abstract

For most of the twentieth Century, China has searched for cultural and national uniqueness as it negotiated the end of the longstanding imperial dynasty and responded to global, political and social volatility. A unified identity is the paradigm for both individuals and nations in their search for safe ground in disturbed times, and through many centuries, consecutive Chinese rulers or regimes, have engineered fashion or clothing to represent and symbolise order, national and bureaucratic codes, modernity, functionality, gender and cultural significance. Dress practices in China have represented generative and thenceforth re-generative stylistic norms by being cyclically dismissive of existing sartorial conventions, and in doing so, formatively and radically remaking, redefining and remodelling the nation’s identity. This chapter considers how in the late 1950s patternmaking and the individual hand crafting of clothing developed in China and became the necessary method of constructing garments for the majority of the population. The context of this being a direct response to political doctrine, inadequate resources and previous political and imperial interventions surrounding dress reform, modernization, westernization. It also considers the pattern making and construction methods that came to influence dress in China, in the second half of the twentieth century, and the recognition of clothing as not only cultural capital but as a characteristic of social standing and a representation of external influences. Key Words. China, Patternmaking, Cultural Symbolism, Dress practices.

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