Costume Thinking as a Strategy for Critical Thinking

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientificpeer-review


This paper discusses costume design as critical thinking extending beyond the stage and screen. Costume design involves a process of thinking about human character and representation using garment(s) as its main, but not sole, means. Designing costume is often thought as ‘in service’ to performance-making, as either a direct response to the director’s vision or to a creative team’s interpretation of a text or theme. Yet, contemporary thinking in costume practice expands beyond storytelling and embraces substantial characteristics of life within diverse social frames. It involves understanding and accepting others’ personalities, practising empathy and observation, improving interpersonal and intercultural communication. Such an approach is not only relevant to performance and fiction, but can be applied to everyday situations as a way to think actively about the human element, its appearance and expression. Thus, this presentation invites to think not simply about costume, but with and through costume, by proposing costume as a lens for developing a critical theoretical discourse that derives from its practice. To do so, it introduces the term ‘costume thinking’ (first presented at Critical Costume 2015) as a means to articulate the ways in which costume becomes a tool for analysis, negotiation, communication, experimentation and expression of ideas and behaviours. ‘Costume thinking’ is therefore proposed as a strategy not only to design for the human body, but to understand human presence through critical thinking beyond the context of performance. The term ‘costume thinking’ will be offered at the conference for debate and refinement with the peers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2020
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventCritical Costume: Costume Agency - Oslo National Academy of Arts, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 21 Aug 201923 Oct 2020


ConferenceCritical Costume
Internet address


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