“Right now is an incredibly exciting moment to enter the field of fashion studies,” says Francesca Granata, assistant professor of fashion studies and the current director of the MA Fashion Studies program in Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory. “It is growing and expanding its boundaries, and MA Fashion Studies students and faculty are actively shaping the field.”
Originally from Italy, Granata holds a PhD from Central Saint Martins, in London where she focused on twentieth century fashion, performance art and gender studies. Before coming to Parsons, she taught at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and was a Polaire-Weissman Art History Research Fellow at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
“Fashion studies continues to bring incredible insights to visual and material culture, gender studies, and queer theory,” says Granata. “I chose to enter this particular field because I could actively shape its development, something that is certainly less likely in more established fields.”
Interested in fashion’s interactions with performance art, Granata is also committed to finding “more sustainable solutions to clothing ourselves and revaluing the material life of textiles and clothing.” Granata says integrating theory and practice is crucial for progress. “I hope to foster students’ ability to look critically at their own practice, especially the need for more sustainable design practices,” she says.
Granata frequently organizes conversations on campus with critics, curators, and scholars, bringing students and faculty fresh perspectives on a variety of visual culture and design subjects. She engages with fashion industry leaders as founder and editor of Fashion Projects, a print and online publication about art, fashion, and visual culture that highlights fashion within cultural discourse. For Fashion Projects, Granata has interviewed critics, curators, and designers, including Suzy Menkes, Shelley Fox, Judith Thurman, and Ann–Sofie Back.
Granata’s book, Experimental Fashion: Performance Art, Carnival and the Grotesque Body (I.B. Taurus, 2017), traces the ways in which experimental fashion from the 1980s and 1990s, including the early work of Leigh Bowery and Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, reflected shifting gender norms and addressed the AIDS crisis through ties to performance art and club culture. Her other writings have recently been published in Fashion Studies: Research Methods, Sites and Practices; Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture; the Journal of Design History; and a number of other books and exhibition catalogs.