Master of Science (MS)


Human Ecology

Document Type



The fashion system has historically looked to art for inspiration. For the greater part of history, this inspiration has been purely visual. However, with the advent of Modern Art, the formal qualities of art are often merely visual representations of some underlying theoretical position. As the fashion system seeks inspiration from this new art, an examination of what aspects, if any, of these underlying theoretical positions are carried into fashion becomes necessary. To not do so, is to forego a complete reading of the fashion objects being currently produced. The purpose of this study was to examine the use of preexisting clothing in current high fashion. This examination entailed a comparison of this act to the readymades of Marcel Duchamp, the combine paintings of Robert Rauschenberg, and the appropriations of Sherry Levine. This comparison was followed by a symbolic interactionist interpretation of the act. The ready-to-wear collections appearing on from Spring 2000 to Spring 2002 served as the dataset. A complete reading of the verbal descriptions that accompanied each collection within the dataset served as the primary indicator of a use of preexisting clothing. A supporting visual analysis of each collection within the dataset was also conducted. Among this dataset of 161 fashion labels, four were found to have engaged in the use of preexisting clothing. Those labels were: Miguel Adrover, John Galliano, Imitation of Christ, and Russel Sage. Interpretations of the found instances of clothing were based upon comparisons with the selected artworks. Symbolic interactionist theory allowed for a perspective in which the use of preexisting clothing by a fashion designer served as a mediation of his/her identity amongst peers. The theory also allowed limited inferences to be made about the eventual adopters of such clothing.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Bonnie D. Belleau



Included in

Human Ecology Commons