Call for Papers

Crafting the Look: Styling as Creative Process
24-25 April 2014, Glasgow School of Art

Keynote Speaker
Juliet Kinchin, Curator of Architecture & Design
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

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This conference seeks to analyse the creative process of styling – the purposeful construction of a ‘look’ –whether it be in dress, space, or object.

In his theoretical writings on fashion, Roland Barthes underscored the complexities of how style is consciously constructed, for example observing that dandyism manifested in the careful selection and combination of particular sartorial items and conventions, with a keen attention to detail; that it was ‘not only an ethos… but also a technique.’ Today we might call this process ‘styling’, and those who engage in the practice professionally, or personally, ‘stylists’.  In contemporary visual culture, the professional Stylist is familiar largely within fashion, but can also be found in other design fields such as architecture, interiors, product design, film, journalism, and commercial photography. The Stylist is perhaps an overlooked creative figure, although many artists and designers have themselves been Stylists of a sort in their own practice. Yet the act of styling as a form of creative production has had extremely limited discussion.

The ultimate goal of the conference is to gain a more nuanced and interdisciplinary understanding of styling, problematizing accepted views of the creative acts that lie at the heart of artistic production. We seek papers that will explore this gap in knowledge, and consider styling across disciplines and from the broadest span of history, with particular interest in those focused on styling and identity. Research need not be limited to the strict definition of ‘Stylist’ as it might be known today, as we hope to explore diversified acts of styling, and welcome topics that investigate this idea from disciplines beyond those typically associated with visual culture.

Key questions to be explored include: Can styling itself be considered a mode of creative process and practice? Can we employ styling as a theory to re-examine and unpack complicated issues surrounding the identities we construct through our clothes, homes, offices, and even personal effects? How does styling differ between creative disciplines? To what extent is identity performed through the act of styling? How do issues such as class, gender, geography and national identity affect styling? Papers may include but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Historical examinations of styling in all aspects of visual culture
  • Self-styling through the details of an ensemble or space
  • (Re)styling architecture and/or interiors for new or alternative purposes, such as urban renewal
  • Styling as collaborative process
  • The influence of pop culture and/or subcultures on styling
  • Style and technology (technological devices as accessories, for example)
  • Styling and identity in the blogosphere
  • Elements of chance in styling
  • Styling as a means of social/political resistance
  • Linking space, place, object, and/or dress through styling
  • Theoretical approaches to styling

Abstracts of no more than 300 words and CV should be sent by 10 JANUARY to Please send via pdf or doc, and make sure to include your name, title, email address, and affiliation. Successful applicants will be allotted 20 minutes to present their papers. Scholars, academics, practitioners and postgraduate students are all encouraged to apply.

Jade Starmore, from 'The Museum of Forgotten Costume', 2013

Jade Starmore, from ‘The Museum of Forgotten Costume’, 2013

Mack School of Arch logoforum for c elogo


About Robyne Calvert

Visual Culture Historian... art, design, architecture, fashion, etc.
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