Life writing, fashion, nature and Wild Dress
There are many people within the CSF community who are deeply committed to developing a changed, more respectful, less extractive relationship with nature, but sometimes it is hard to know how to convert such intentions into reality. Life writing is one way to do this.
Autobiographical or life writing is a method in which we use ourselves and our lives as sites of enquiry in order to study phenomena like, for example, ecological systems. It involves ‘writing’ (although it is not limited to words and it often includes images and writing of many types) in first person and uses finite, direct, embodied experience of life and place as the basis from which to develop understanding. I have used it extensively to explore fashion and nature, including in my book Wild Dress: Clothing and the Natural World (2019), published by Uniform Books, which has just been reprinted.
The more I work with life writing, the more I am convinced that it is a method that is particularly suited to ecological enquiry, like that around fashion and nature. In a recent article published in the journal Fashion Practice, I describe key aspects of autobiographical work for generating ecological understanding. These include the ways in which life writing helps us to explore relationships, place, embodied understanding of clothing and multiple centres of activity, outside of humans. The work is dynamic, it is sometimes difficult and often exciting. It is a way to see our power and that we must take action.