Dissertation advice needed :)


Hi there, I'm a third year student currently starting my dissertation which I've decided the title will be 'Fashion through advertisements, can we see that society has changed through these?'. Ive done lots of research already but have sort of come to a brick wall so if anyone has any advice, links, books, websites that would be of help to me i would be truly greatful. Thanks, Becky
That's such a broad topic, there's got to be loads to write about. How about the relationship between music and fashion and how they've influenced one another and gone on to change societies. Different societies are influenced by different things because of their cultures, what are their influences.

Even though it's not based solely on fashion i'd read the book 'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell. His theory and way of looking at how things go on to become a trend and spread could be applied to your chosen topic.
You need to look at historical adverts. How fashion changed history or how history changed fashion... Look at WW1 & WW2 and shortage of materials changed hemlines etc. The 1920s and emancipation of women - short hair cuts, short skirts, trousers (my grandmother born in 1888 died in 1986 never wore trousers). In the 1950s as we came out of the war and rationing fashions changed again...full skirts, fuller figures, etc. Technology has had a huge effect on fashion - modern materials giving the designer a lot more scope. Does Vogue have back copies you can look at? (Or other fashion titles) It may be diffcult to say that fashion has changed society but fashion/society/technolgy are very intertwined. A bit of a chicken and egg question!
Good advice from Katedesign.

'Fashion' of course can refer to clothing, but it is also the embodiment of lifestyle that one leads, which is a collection of lots of elements: how people live, where, what they use to live (appliances), their social activity, social expectation and as KD said, the technology at the time.

'Fashion' isn't always positive either. Although it can push boundaries, it can also be trivial, throwaway and purely a thing of the moment that either has no impact on 'life' or that is an essential stepping stone in the process of development/engineering/life style.

(Crimplene and Rayon were advancements in technology (cheaper manufacture, more flexible to design with) but don't get too close to a fire!)

It isn't necessarily always just about/for women either.
Advertisements are obviously a 'snapshot' or recording of history and so by recording events/styles in their very nature.

Not sure where I'm going with this, but as with all dissertation topics they are 'open' and offer obvious routes - i.e 'discuss fashion advertising' . But they also offer you a chance to look at them from a different angle which hopefully is where the marks are!!

Perhaps you should be looking at the role of the poster/the advert/the illustrator/the photographer as they would have been the 'recording' artist so to speak?

No you're right Paul, fashion isn't about clothes or women... look at how the latest technology has changed how people communicate and entertain themselves. Walking aorund with a phone!
If you want to watch a bit of excellent TV and learn something linked to your dissertation watch Madmen from HBO its simply brilliant and tracks advertising in America from the late 50's into the 60's when huge changes happened for advertising and was of course the American dream time.
It deals with iconic advertising, changing fashions and social attitudes.
Also read 'Ways of Seeing' by John Burger it talks about how advertisements in fashion and lifestyle use age old techniques that draw the eye and subconsciously appeal to us.
The central theme of George Melly's Revolt into Style comes to mind (he's perhaps best remembered as on old jazz queen but does have some academic credibility): movements (fashion) start in the underground, are picked up, repackaged and sanitized by business (advertising) and sold on into the mainstream (society). That's just one idea though.