Famous, forgotten, found: rediscovering the career of London couture fashion designer Giuseppe (Jo) Mattli, 1934-1980

Ness, Caroline (2014) Famous, forgotten, found: rediscovering the career of London couture fashion designer Giuseppe (Jo) Mattli, 1934-1980. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.
Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3031740


The process of determining the contribution of an almost forgotten couturier, Jo Mattli, to the British fashion and textile industry, has resulted in a deep study of the under-researched London couture scene of the mid-twentieth century. This thesis is distinctive in providing object-based evidence of Mattli’s response to the social and financial changes experienced in Britain post World War II, and unusual for using primary documentary evidence to trace the business history of a London couture house. Based on Prown’s model of object-based material culture research, supported by the inter-disciplinary methodologies of socio-cultural, socio-economic, structuralist and oral history, this thesis makes a unique contribution to the body of knowledge of dress history.
Using primary evidence to explore the production and consumption of Mattli couture, ready-to-wear, boutique and wholesale clothing, tests and challenges the theoretical perspectives critically analysed in the thesis. A case study using primary Mattli artefacts tests Prown’s methodology. Simmel, Lipovetsky and Bourdieu’s differing theories of the fashion system, taste, and luxury, are analysed, tested and challenged. Barthes’ semiotic theory is tested against image and text, and Lacan’s psychoanalytical theory challenged for its relevance to the consumption of Mattli designs. The changing cultural status of the surviving Mattli garments is illuminated by employing Thompson’s theory of rubbish and Kopytoff’s biography of the object technique. Evidence from primary sources is supported by contemporaneous literature and oral history. The latter is used cautiously but effectively to support the primary evidence, and absence of evidence, in turn upholding and challenging traditional theoretical models. Scientific identification of a small sample of fibres from surviving Mattli garments challenges the assumed perception of luxury as applied to couture fabrics mid-twentieth century.
The resulting study contributes to a greater understanding of the design, production and consumption of London couture, identifies both Mattli’s position within London couture and the reasons for him being forgotten. This thesis argues for the rehabilitation of Mattli in dress history and, as the objects provided the most significant evidence, for the importance of object-based research as a primary component of the methodology used in the discipline.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available once any embargo periods have expired.
Keywords: Object-based research, material culture, oral history, inter-disciplinary, socio-cultural history, socio-economic history, structuralism, semiotics, dress history, textile history, consumption, rubbish theory, luxury, couture, fashion, memory
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts
Supervisor's Name: Lennard, Ms. Frances
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Dr Caroline F Ness
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5034
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2014 11:20
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2017 08:51
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5034

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