Date

5-1-2020

Description

This essay explores how Brazilian seamstress-turned-designer Zuzu Angel produced politically-engaged fashion collections as a means for processing her personal grief and denouncing the atrocities faced by the Brazilian youth during the Military Dictatorship (1964-1985). After Angel's son Stuart, a leftist activist, was kidnapped and brutally tortured to death by the military regime, Zuzu began to incorporate allegorical details into her commercial fashion designs. These primarily took the form of delicate, seemingly naive embroidered images, such as angels, toy soldiers, ships and trucks- concealed synthesized references that expressed Angel's grief for her son and her country. Drawing from original garments and materials in the designer's archives, this essay considers how Zuzu Angel's clothes function as documents through which the designer simultaneously processed pain and publicized her opposition to the regime. Focusing on the two political protest collections shown in New York City in 1971 and 1972, my research considers how the infantilized imagery, embroidered upon the surface of wearable objects, function as aesthetic and symbolic sites of convergence that manifest a personal and a communal experience of pain. It also considers how to place Angel's protest fashion as one that stemmed from her background as a craftsperson, functioned in tandem with her efforts as a militant, and drew upon her existing status as an internationally-recognized fashion designer. The hybrid status of these garments set them apart as the singular example of traditionally feminine craft practices converging as a means for protesting the Brazilian regime.

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May 1st, 12:00 AM

Bordando asas para os que no puderam voar (Embroidering wings for those who did not get to fly): Activism and Grief in Zuzu Angel's Politically-Engaged Fashion

This essay explores how Brazilian seamstress-turned-designer Zuzu Angel produced politically-engaged fashion collections as a means for processing her personal grief and denouncing the atrocities faced by the Brazilian youth during the Military Dictatorship (1964-1985). After Angel's son Stuart, a leftist activist, was kidnapped and brutally tortured to death by the military regime, Zuzu began to incorporate allegorical details into her commercial fashion designs. These primarily took the form of delicate, seemingly naive embroidered images, such as angels, toy soldiers, ships and trucks- concealed synthesized references that expressed Angel's grief for her son and her country. Drawing from original garments and materials in the designer's archives, this essay considers how Zuzu Angel's clothes function as documents through which the designer simultaneously processed pain and publicized her opposition to the regime. Focusing on the two political protest collections shown in New York City in 1971 and 1972, my research considers how the infantilized imagery, embroidered upon the surface of wearable objects, function as aesthetic and symbolic sites of convergence that manifest a personal and a communal experience of pain. It also considers how to place Angel's protest fashion as one that stemmed from her background as a craftsperson, functioned in tandem with her efforts as a militant, and drew upon her existing status as an internationally-recognized fashion designer. The hybrid status of these garments set them apart as the singular example of traditionally feminine craft practices converging as a means for protesting the Brazilian regime.