Graduate Theses

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Discs, Bones & Priestesses: A History on the Art of the Tarot

Discs, Bones & Priestesses: A History on the Art of the Tarot

Cristina Carrera
  • 2017
  • Illustration (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Text
  • Thesis
Throughout history, a silent form of divination and disparate world of illustration —known as the Tarot—has had profound influence on areas as varied and significant as scientific study and religious warfare.
Providing essential narratives of destiny and fate, the Tarot originated centuries ago with popular card games, and has continually evolved through the development of global spiritualities. Throughout its existence, the Tarot has manifested a whirlwind of debate, theory, desegregation, and revolution. Even today, as the Tarot appears as commercially printed works of art, its divinatory properties remain as taunted or in question, as much as they remain willfully respected.
As we know it, the Tarot took form under fourteenth century Christian influence, with underlying roots in civilizations ranging from Egypt to China. As a work of illustration, it has rendered a visual, cultural, and spiritual evolution, redefining the power of symbols in art.
As a popular pastime, it has introduced society to a metaphysical phenomenon that allows one to develop intuitive and extrasensory responses to their questions. While secular viewers may question the metaphysical worth in these works of art, the illustrative property of these cards is rich in history, myth, and unnerving truth.
Presenting Sekitori: History, Materiality, and Embodiment in Contemporary Sumo

Presenting Sekitori: History, Materiality, and Embodiment in Contemporary Sumo

Giuliana F. Ciampoli
  • 2023
  • Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice
  • Text
  • Thesis
Sekitori are the men who compete in ōzumō, the highest-level competition of Japanese wrestling known as sumō, which is widely recognized as Japan's national sport. The unique and meaningful dress and textiles used in ōzumō are rich in symbolism and historical significance. This paper aims to explore and interpret the dress of sekitori and its cultural importance, particularly for an unfamiliar, Western audience.The sport holds significance in Japanese culture due to its reliance on ritual and tradition and because it epitomizes certain Japanese values related to masculine identity and cultural legacy. This study demonstrates that the culture of ōzumō and the dress of sekitori exemplifies these values. By adopting Deborah Evanson and Joanne Eicher's comprehensive definition of dress, which this paper interprets as physical presentation, encompassing anything worn or held for the purpose of appearance, including sensory aspects such as sound, smell, body shape, size, musculature, hair, or any modification of the body at a given time.This research delves into the historical and contemporary significance of sumō's material culture with a particular focus on the details, origins, meanings and making of sekitori's dress. It also dispels misconceptions about a sport which until recently has been hidden away from outsiders in what is referred to as kakukai, or the sumō world, a term which reflects its exclusivity. Through this exploration, the paper contributes to a deeper understanding of sumō culture and Japanese craftsmanship, as well as what each reflects about Japanese culture.By examining the dress of sekitori, this study not only reviews the origins and development of sumō, intertwined as it is with Japan's history from myth and legend to the early twentieth century, but also reveals its deep interrelation with contemporary Japanese culture. Presenting a unique study of the dress of sekitori, an aspect of sumō that has received little attention in scholarship, this paper opens up new areas for further exploration in the field of dress and textile studies.
Uni/Versal: Fashion Design MFA 2023 Graduate Showcase

Uni/Versal: Fashion Design MFA 2023 Graduate Showcase

  • 2023-09-12
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
The Fashion Design MFA 2023 graduating class presented their final thesis collections in a runway show during New York Fashion Week.
Soft Discomfort

Soft Discomfort

Youna Jin
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Born in Korea, Youna Jin is a ready-to-wear designer whose work focuses on the intersection between gender norms, the body, and the blurred lines of unisex fashion. Originally trained in jewelry design and metalworks, Jin uses progressive pattern cutting and traditional technical fabrics to organically highlight controversial parts of the human body in order to question the sexual and social gaze of the public.
Torus

Torus

Vasundhra Dhamija
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Dhamija is a multidisciplinary designer and 3D artist who bridges the worlds of technology, art, and nature. With a background in computer engineering and fashion, Dhamija aims to design visual stories that are beautiful and thought-provoking and are centered around the cacophonic splendor of mathematics. Born and raised in India, she is passionate about preserving the country's rich cultural heritage and bringing its handicrafts into the modern era by fusing these traditional art forms with innovative tools like Clo3D.
Sabor a mí, Sabor a tí

Sabor a mí, Sabor a tí

Valeria Watson
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Valeria Watson is a multidisciplinary artist and fashion designer based in New York City. She designs and constructs expressive, colorful, and playful garments that celebrate the bodies that carry them. Inspired by her Mexican-American heritage, her concepts are rooted in personal memories and are imbued with the traditional craft of Mexico. Collaged silhouettes, bold volumes, upcycled materials, and graphical prints are key characteristics that define her work and create collections that invite all to join in the celebration.
Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

Tom Zhendong Wen
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Zhendong Wen is a socially conscious designer whose work is informed by the movements of contemporary society. Having lived in several metropolises, Wen possesses a unique ability to adapt to diverse cultural environments. This exposure has enabled him to identify and capture social patterns in his creative work, which often reflect his observations. His designs are a testament to his keen eye for capturing the spirit of his surroundings and the people who inhabit them.
Lamella

Lamella

Morgan Cardwell
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
North Carolina-born Morgan Cardwell received her BFA from North Carolina State University before pursuing an MFA in Fashion Design from FIT. Her biophilic designs convey a symbiosis between human existence and the natural world, influencing patterns and textures. Her signatures include fluid contours and detailed craft created through a combination of traditional techniques and new technology. Her work centers around the vast range of human emotions, states of interconnectedness and the intensity of lived experiences.
Carnival of Apocalypse

Carnival of Apocalypse

Xinyue Maggie Tao
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Tao’s intention is to delve into the depths of human nature, philosophy, and the realm of material existence through her artistic creations. Her collections transcend the limitations of time and culture. They unfold captivating narratives, fueled by an exaggerated and dramatic storytelling style that ignites her creative inspiration. These collections often exist in a world untethered by time, untouched by the constraints of reality. Her distinctive essence resonates within each meticulously crafted collection she presents.
Fancy Inside

Fancy Inside

Zining Luna Ye
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Chinese-born, New York–based Zining Ye is a designer who strives to create a fashion language that juxtaposes chaos with tranquility and maximalism with restraint. Form and textile manipulation are central to her work. Traditional silhouettes are fused with architectonic textiles, and neutral palettes combine with rigid volumes to create collections that are quietly striking. During her studies in FIT’s Fashion Design MFA program, Ye found a balance between traditional Asian culture and modern expression.
DRESS_CODE

DRESS_CODE

Lilach Porges
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Lilach Porges is an Israeli fashion designer with an academic background in architecture. She uses parametric design methods to create textiles and garments. Lilach wishes to combine fashion with technology and to research more sustainable production methods to create the fashion of the future. Her work centers around developing innovative methods for 3D-printed garments with robotic arms, exploring architectonic shapes with the ambition to bring the worlds of science, engineering, and fashion together to empower women.
Independent Reality

Independent Reality

Kuai Li
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Kuai Li is a Chinese-born fashion designer whose work centers on sculptural aesthetics underpinned by her industrial design background. Passionate about exploring bold hues, geometric shapes, and the body's interaction with space, Li treats fashion with an industrial design approach. Her work bends physics, often using tech, performance, and traditional furniture materials to explore architectural forms on the body. In addition to designing garments, for the last several years Li has been creative director of the accessories brand she founded, Baohedu.
OCD and Fashion

OCD and Fashion

Yimeng Zhao
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Born in Beijing, Yimeng Zhao is a fashion designer whose work focuses on the purity of line and form. She believes in reducing everything to the essential while investigating geometric constructions. Patternmaking and craft in construction are central to her process; form is the basis of her love of design. Zhao also believes fashion can be used as a tool to depict and dissect mental health and social issues. Beyond her studies, Zhao has worked in both Beijing and New York and possesses a comprehensive understanding of both markets.
GREEDY DIRTIE BISEXUAL

GREEDY DIRTIE BISEXUAL

Kaylie Haueisen
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
As a creative designer who is drawn to caustic and audacious subject matter, Haueisen’s work utilizes off-kilter elements, namely deconstruction of traditional patterns and garments, to distort the body in pleasing ways. She deeply enjoys reworking and upcycling existing traditional garments and accessories to create innovative shapes that compliment the body’s natural form and cause the viewer to question toxic views of femininity and masculinity that are pervasive in society.
The Urban Diver

The Urban Diver

Yitong Liu
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Yitong Liu is a ready-to-wear fashion designer whose style is inspired by her passions for athletics, nature, and social causes. With a professional background in free diving, she brings a deep appreciation of precision to her fashion work, whether in designs, craftsmanship, cuts, or performance-driven textiles that she applies to traditional suiting. Ultimately, Liu's goal is to create garments that not only functionally express a new take on active living but also capture the emotional implications of the times within which we live.
Arise

Arise

Deborah Won
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Deborah Won is an award-winning designer who creates work that is influenced by sensory play. By utilizing innovation-driven techniques and materials, she makes concept-forward clothes that promote interaction in personal and shared space. Influenced by movement, technology, and feminine paradigms, her work is a cross section of classical forms with progressive design details that blur the line between past and future. Converse, Opening Ceremony, and Sandy Liang are among the brands she has worked for in her materials and women’s wear design career.
The Song of Samsara

The Song of Samsara

Catherine Ziyue Tang
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Catherine Tang is a New York–based women’s wear designer whose work deals with sustainable fashion and wabi-sabi style using bold patterns. Born in China and raised by a mother from the Dong minority, much of her inspiration is rooted in the Dong cultural heritage and traditional craft. Her work aims to fuse these traditions with modern ready-to-wear by exploring how sustainable practices and forward patternmaking can combine with folk craft.
Regina

Regina

Anthony Oyer
  • 2023
  • Fashion Design (School of Graduate Studies)
  • Video
  • Image
  • Fashion shows
  • Fashion photographs
  • Masters theses
Inspired by two worlds—fantasy and history—Anthony Oyer merges past with present through silhouettes taken from historical references and fantastical stories. His is a viewpoint formed while growing up in a small Midwestern town, watching old films and exploring antique stores. Oyer’s deepest desire is to make his wearer smile. His muse is one who wears their finest to the grocery store and diamonds while taking a bath. His universe is a place where more is always welcomed.
Marketing the Sound: Fashioning the Blues Musician and the Country Music Cowboy

Marketing the Sound: Fashioning the Blues Musician and the Country Music Cowboy

Jules Eckelkamp
  • 2023
  • Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice
  • Text
  • Thesis
Focusing on the period between the country music’s recognition as a distinct category of music in the 1920s and its evolution into a polished and solidified genre in the 1950s, I will discuss the segregation of Black and white singers into the categories of hillbilly and race music and the resulting changes to the artists’ wardrobe. I will look at the dress of the rural Mississippi Delta and Appalachian regions where both genres emerged from. I will consider the influence of record labels, touring shows, and the artists themselves on the musician’s visual branding. A particular focus will be placed on the leading artists in the country and blues genres during this time and the representations of gender within these artists' wardrobe and the subtext of these style choices. I will then discuss how country musician’s initial dress shifted into a more distinct country costume due to blues and pop sounds encroaching on the country music genre in the 1940s and 1950s and how the blues genre and the typical blues musician has become romanticized due to white scholarship of the genre.
Christian Dior-New York, Inc.

Christian Dior-New York, Inc.

Adnan Ege Kutay
  • 2023
  • Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice
  • Text
  • Thesis
Christian Dior-New York Inc. (CD-NY) was established in 1948 as a ready-to-wear line designed by Parisian couturier Christian Dior for the American market. Although it was designed by the head designer of the Paris house for the first half its history, by the early 1960s , when New York-based CD-NY designers started to design the line, it became more of a Seventh Avenue brand. This successful line lasted almost twenty-four years, and became an important part of the American fashion industry. Christian Dior-New York inspired other ready-to-wear lines by Paris couturiers in the postwar era, such as Jacques Fath and Pierre Balmain. This qualifying paper tells the history of Christian Dior-New York and the designers who created it, from its start in 1948 until its closure in 1972. In the last chapter, the characteristics of existing CD-NY garments are studied, and compared with garments from other Christian Dior lines.
Kazakh Traditional Dress Through the Nineteenth Century

Kazakh Traditional Dress Through the Nineteenth Century

Dana Callahan
  • 2023
  • Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice
  • Text
  • Thesis
This study examines and explores traditional Kazakh dress and fashion during the nineteenth century – a period of significant cultural and social change in Central Asia. Drawing on a range of historical sources, including ethnographic travel accounts, photographs, and museum collections, and considering the historically nomadic culture of the Kazakh nation, the paper examines the various elements of Kazakh dress and its social, cultural, and economic significance. Discussions follow with respect to the use of natural materials such as wool, leather, and fur, as well as the role of dress in signaling social status and identity. Additionally, this paper provides an overview of the impact of external influences, such as Russian colonization, including under the Soviet Union, on Kazakh dress traditions. The paper observes that despite the challenges posed by external factors, traditional Kazakh dress persisted as a symbol of cultural identity and continuity in the face of rapid change. This project is focused specifically on Kazakh attire, separate from the broader category of Central Asian clothing, and aims to provide more clarity on what distinguishes Kazakh dress from its regional neighbors.

As this research project primarily relates to the author’s native country of Kazakhstan, its original contribution and perspective adds to the existing scholarship on this topic, most of which is by Soviet anthropologists and ethnographers and in the Russian language. The paper was written using English, Kazakh, and Russian (including Old Russian) language sources, with some produced in Kazakhstan (including Soviet Kazakhstan). The project aims to deepen knowledge about specifically Kazakh garment traditions for an English-language audience by increasing understanding of this nation’s history, culture and people
The Application of Practice-Led Research for the Conservation Professional: The Reproduction of An English Seventeenth-Century Embroidered Bookbinding

The Application of Practice-Led Research for the Conservation Professional: The Reproduction of An English Seventeenth-Century Embroidered Bookbinding

Ayako Tanihata
  • 2023
  • Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice
  • Text
  • Thesis
This paper focuses on the reproduction of a seventeenth-century English embroidered bookbinding in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met). The first part of the paper reviews a small group of successful practice-led research projects and considers them as a group. This section promotes the research of important scholars, many of whom work outside of academia, by recognizing common approaches across their projects and identifying methods that could be useful for conservators looking to include reproduction as part of their conservation practice. Following an auto-ethnographic approach, the second part of this project documents my experience analyzing materials and techniques, sourcing materials, and reproducing sections of the original bookbinding by implementing the methodologies reviewed in the first section of the paper. For the final section, I, a trained textile conservator, reviews and analyzes their extensive hands-on process and considers the possibilities practice-led research presents for the field of textiles and fashion conservation.
The Emergence of Japanese Americans in Fashion:  The Triumphs and Legacies of Forgotten Designers, 1939-1965

The Emergence of Japanese Americans in Fashion: The Triumphs and Legacies of Forgotten Designers, 1939-1965

Zoe Taylor
  • 2023
  • Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice
  • Text
  • Thesis
In the twenty-first century, fashion scholarship has pushed for a more inclusive study of the history of fashion. Although there has been an increased focus on the study of Asian American designers, prior research has yet to account for earlier Japanese American designers that appeared on a wider scale in the mid-twentieth century. Early Japanese American contributors to the fashion industry were present at least almost 100 years ago in the 1930s. Although the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans stunted the capabilities of this community, those with an interest in fashion were able to unify under a period of duress. The presence of fashion classes and shows throughout internment camps presents a determination for the creation of beauty amid imprisonment. Following their release after World War II, numerous women went to work within the fashion industry and achieved high levels of success, unfortunately all of which are forgotten today. Japanese American designers such as Linda Kinoshita were multitalented, and served many roles such as designer, seamstress, and entrepreneur. The following research resurfaces these successful designers not just among the Japanese American community, but also forms a more holistic understanding of American fashion history. Although unified in aspirations, each of these women created fashion in a unique approach and demonstrated individualistic career paths.
Orinoka Mills (1890-1989): A Front Runner in The Golden Age of Philadelphia’s Textile Industry

Orinoka Mills (1890-1989): A Front Runner in The Golden Age of Philadelphia’s Textile Industry

Sierra Jessica Neale
  • 2023
  • Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice
  • Text
  • Thesis
Orinoka Mills was a textile mill founded by the Solomon brothers in 1890 in Kensington, Philadelphia. Orinoka produced a wide variety of woven fabrics during what is considered the golden age of the Philadelphia textile industry. While these textiles can be considered relatively new as historical objects, they are just as important in the history of textiles as those from the previous centuries.

This paper is separated into three chapters; first, discussing the history of Orinoka Mills and Philadelphia’s textile industry, second, an in-depth study of Orinoka mills and lastly, a survey of the archives and the mill’s designs. The primary research for this paper was conducted by interviewing a selection of Orinoka employees from different areas of the business for firsthand perspectives and through reviewing Orinoka Mills’ textiles and paper archives. The intent was to study the history of Orinoka Mills in the context of the textile industry in the twentieth century. Orinoka and other mills in the region made a lasting impact on the textile industry. Their histories are important to document, and examples of their textiles should be conserved and archived today.

The recent history of a U.S. mill is worthy of in-depth study while we still have the opportunity for first-hand accounts from designers, managers, customers, and trade journalists. Studying and publishing more literature and scholarly sources on these contemporary woven textiles will be an invaluable source for students, museum visitors and industry professionals. As an example, Kravet. Inc. presented an exhibition of textiles from its archive collection at the New York School of Interior Design in 2019 featuring multiple Orinoka Mills textiles and related objects. Phyllis Greer stated in her review of the exhibition Every New Textile Has a History ”Though we might not think of these items as rare historical documents now, someday they will be. Many of these items show the process and communication behind the designs.”
The Urban Cowboy: The Evolution of Westernwear in High-End Fashion, 1965-1995

The Urban Cowboy: The Evolution of Westernwear in High-End Fashion, 1965-1995

Melinda Abercrombie
  • 2023
  • Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice
  • Text
  • Thesis
Westernwear refers to a style of dress inspired by the workwear of cowboys from the United States which is made up of various influences from Spain to Indigenous peoples of the United States, developing into one broad visual identity. The cowboy who wears this dress is a central character in the mythology of the American West. The myth of the West is strongly tied to American individualism, solidified with western expansion during the nineteenth century, and grew with the rise of the United States as a world power in the twentieth century. As an export, the American cowboy and iconography in an international context is seen as a representation of the country rather than just a region. Once abroad, the mythology tied to the image of the cowboy may be reinterpreted according to its non-American viewer.

This non-American reinterpretation is the focus of this paper’s research to discuss westernwear coming to high-end fashion catwalks by way of foreign film production, musical stage costuming, continued reimagining of the cowboy’s iconography through film and television and finally joining fashion’s vocabulary via foreign fashion designers. The timeline will use these key cultural moments of international exposure and uses of westernwear to be then translated into high-end fashion in both Europe and the United States from 1965 to 1995. Westernwear’s reimagining and appropriation into the global fashion’s world in the late 20th century follows the downfall of the glorification and romanticization of the iconography of the cowboy. The cowboy represents America on the international stage so in turn the use of westernwear references in fashion is a commentary on where the United States stands politically or economically internationally.