University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

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Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2017
EventRevisiting the Gaze - London, United Kingdom

Conference

ConferenceRevisiting the Gaze
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityLondon
Period28/06/1729/06/17
Internet address

Abstract

The act of undressing is carried out habitually, and yet also frequently occurs as choreographed performance. This act takes on a variety of different characteristics depending on whether it is observed or unobserved, and on the character of that observation. The individual gestures that contribute to an act of undressing are tailored to invite or deter the gaze of others. Actors in these performances make decisions before and during undressing that determine the style in which they will transform the relationship between clothes and body, including the selection of appropriate garments, to delay or conceal their gestures.

Examples for discussion will contrast two very different examples of choreographed undressing: striptease, which has traditionally invited the erotic gaze but is, in neo-burlesque, beginning to invite critical reflection on the presentation of the imperfect body for erotic consumption; and the removal of clothes in fitting rooms and locker rooms, where the act of undressing is choreographed to conceal the body from the unwanted gaze of others. The paper will also consider the mirror as audience, and the way in which the reflected gaze can prompt the habitual act of undressing to be transformed into a performance. All of these examples will be located in the historical context of undressing as an activity that has been commonly subject to the homospectatorial gaze, and of fashion design that has been determined in part by the expectation of participant involvement in the undressing process.

Notes

Barbara Brownie, ‘Choreographed Undressing: How the nature of observation informs the character of undressing’, presented at the Revisiting the Gaze: Feminism, Fashion and the Female Body Conference,London, UK, 28–29 June, 2017.

ID: 11444438