Embodied Memories explores how frock consciousness can endure beyond the moment of being dressed in a particular way. I recorded a range of participants who had shopped at the department store Tyrell and Green describing clothes that had been important and cherished by them, these descriptions of treasured pieces demonstrated an emphasis upon emotion and a tendency for emotion to lead to elaborate, even fantastical descriptions of dress. In reality, the original items, such as Eva’s Telemark raincoat, could not have been nearly so ornate. However, in seeking to embody the feeling, rather than the original garment or accessory, I prioritised the descriptive flights of fancy within the making of pieces that used these descriptions as their source material. What the participants seem to recall most strongly was the affect of that piece they describe, not the material qualities or details of the piece.
In Cilla’s description of her blue cape coat, it is difficult to distinguish when she is describing the garment and when she is describing her dyed long red hair. In the telling, the hair seems to be a part of the coat, synonymous with it and so in creating the object, the red hair was sewn into the hood of the coat, and the model becomes a redhead when she wears the coat. Cilla demonstrates, in her descriptive entanglement of cape and hair, how clothing and the body are sometimes inseparable in shaping our experience. This recollection from the participants in Embodied Memories gives voice to the ways in which clothing structures and shapes experience; Jeness (2015) reasons that ‘objects take on a constitutive role in the formation of our engagement with memory’, Prudence Black and Rosie Findlay used the term ‘memory keepers’ (Black & Findlay 2016: 7), Embodied Memories sought to give form to that memory.