Kate Sutton, 21, is studying her third and final year of BA Hons Fashion Styling at Southampton Solent University. You can contact Kate Sutton at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter at @KateSStylist and see more of her work by visiting www.katesuttonstylist.co.uk
Kate what is the background of the work you submitted?
The Body Fe:Male is the result of a project carried out for my dissertation practical.
The role of styling is often overlooked as ‘just clothes’, but the secret to a great image is more than surface aesthetics. How does a particular photography elicit an emotional response in the viewer? How does a reflection through the lens allow us to form a sense of gender identity? These are vital questions for fashion photography and styling that I tried to address through this project.
The composition of an image creates meaning. Our unconscious decodes visual cues and triggers a response: a slightly raised eyebrow, a look away from the camera or a deep stare into the lens, all affect the image and its viewer.
Single labels cannot define our humanity. A large part of what we understand by male and female goes beyond an embodied gender, beyond our physical appearance. Certain mannerisms are considered feminine, others masculine. We seem able to freely drift between culturally defined gender boundaries.
The Body Fe:Male explores the relationship between fashion, gender and power via the medium of photography. A nude model represents ‘female’ with further pictures exploring the effects aspects of the male aesthetic have on feminine empowerment. Nudity is the control variable, it removes any likelihood of male aesthetic influence and allows raw emotions; reflecting the nature of femininity, to be easily translated and captured as ‘evidence’.
Power is assigned to each gender differently. Female status is often connected to her body and the female form has long been associated with occupations that exploit this power. Conversely, the male form facilitates status through the exercise of power, strength and dominance. The sequence of my images establishes a crossover of power symbols that is likened to the advancement of women in business. The model evolves through feminine to the masculine in a seamless performance often impossible for males to replicate.
Observing movements and expressions of the model as she posed provided insight into emotions and mannerisms of subconscious language that are connected to particular items of clothing. Even a sleek jumpsuit modelled on a traditional tuxedo still provoked mannerisms that indicated power, superiority and a nonchalant attitude as opposed to the nude frames that were more poised. The combination of male and female in one image produced a powerful hybrid that manipulates the symbolic nature of gender through femininity and fashion.
The following credit apply to all images on the slide show – Photographer: Stephano Brunesci; Model: Emma Franks; Creative Direction, Styling & Makeup: Kate Sutton.
What inspires you creatively?
I see myself as an artist and a fashion stylist and like mixing both approaches. I enjoy classic editorial styling but also explorative work where I can experiment with ideas and concepts. I enjoy expanding my perspective and I am inspired by scholars and academics in the field of fashion theory and other reputable stylist in the industry.
Your favourite film?
Memento, 2000, written and directed by Christopher Nolan, is interesting on many levels. Guy Pearce plays the main character who suffers from a form of amnesia that prevents him from forming new explicit memories. He develops a coping system using written notes, tattoos on his body and Polaroid photos. His story is basically told in reverse.
I am creating a new body of work that uses the narrative of memory and how an image is meaningless without memory and narrative to support it.
Your favourite music track or album?
The album Long Distance by Onra – Onra is a Parisian-based beatmaker. I really like his mix of beats and 80’s synth. For those who want to find out more about him, here is ‘Keeping it Long Distance: An Interview with Onra’ published on Synconation. This video is by Marc Ferran who sampled his collection of obscure 80’s videos from the internet to produce a ‘clip’ for the track Sitting Back.
What does Fashion mean to you?
I choose to partake in Fashion on and off; as I please. It is my ultimate freedom. I am very selective about what I wear and enjoy it like an artist enjoys painting; it is a creatively rewarding skill.
Your ideal Fashion Project?
I enjoy working around those that acknowledge the importance of image subject matter and collaboration in their work not just someone who has their own their personal skills in mind. I love working with a team that is enthusiastic about creating beauty, but also has a sense of fun and make the more tedious parts of the job enjoyable.
How do you imagine your future?
Working as a fashion editor/creative director at a magazine whilst freelancing as stylist and creative director – I hope to become a reputable practitioner in the field of fashion and be able to apply my skills set to projects that explore fashion as an art.
Finding a paid job as a newbie freelancer is difficult; the industry seems saturated and there is a lot of competition. Fashion graduates are often told they do not have the experience required by the industry. Are the skills needed to work in the fashion industry learnt at university or through experience? Do fashion students have to do twice the amount of work during their period of study as they also partake in internships and work experience to validate their qualification? As a Fashion graduate, how can you establish that your skills are worth paying for?
What do you think? Why not tell us in the comment section below.