Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Studies


Michael Cronin

Committee Members

Tomoko Hamada Connolly

Jennifer Putzi


We present our identities, both wittingly and unwittingly, through the aesthetic choices we make in regards to our bodies. Adorning the body through fashion represents a genuine solution to a paradox of basic human needs: to express individuality and conform to a larger group or society. Three designers in particular, Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, fostered the recognition of Japanese fashion in Paris in the 1970s by shattering industry conventions. The success of these three designers has consequently tied their heritage to their work and its impact on the global stage. Using Rei Kawakubo as a case study, this research aims to understand how fashion can redefine society’s image of a clothed body’s race, gender or ability, while simultaneously delineating the political and social expectations of that body’s behavior. In other words, how has Kawakubo’s work shaped fashion’s view on the body, and is there something inherently Japanese to this reconstruction process? The paper investigates two specific collections, “Dress Meets Body, Body Meets Dress” (S/S 1997) and “Broken Bride” (A/W 2005). The dates of these collections offer two distinct snapshots of the industry’s willingness to accept Japanese fashion. Analysis of the clothes’ silhouettes, patterns, materials, construction and deviations from tradition underscores the capacity of fashion to create meaningful change in the embodiment of class, gender, race and disability.

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Creative Commons License
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