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Fashion (MA)

Justine Masché

Justine Masché is a German multi-disciplinary designer and fashion practitioner based in London. Her work currently focuses on installation, sculpture, reflective writing and experiments of wearing. 

Since joining the RCA, Justine discovered her interest in archival practices, values and spaces - a field of study expressed by collecting & archiving (on) the body through repurposing materials commonly found in archives, cultivating practices of care—for objects and humans.

Justine has a technical background in tailoring and has previously worked in costume for stage and film. She graduated from Universität der Künste Berlin with her research-design project “The Stories We Are”, for which she was shortlisted in the Apolda European Design Award and German Design Award. Justine has previous work experience from Bless Service and Vivienne Westwood alongside working as a freelance maker. 

She publishes her work under ‘Studio Zeitheist’, a neologism that for her describes the blurring of temporal components, often finding inspiration in the past while moving forward into the future. 

Our wardrobe and the garments we own are a representation of ourselves. This stack of clothes are all the garments that I own.
"The beauty of things is forged in the attentiveness we bring to them." [1]

‘Archival Confessions – Re*thinking Wardrobes’ reflects my dedication to organising the objects and belongings in my life. It is a conceptual work that breaks away from the norm of making new clothes and allows one to contemplate what value comes from what is already owned.

The inspiration for this body of work comes from an innate urge to capture the stories stored in the objects that surround us as a path to self-discovery through documentation.

My practice is commonly informed by inviting the voices of people into my thinking through leading targeted conversations. For my graduation project I have been interviewing curators, researchers, collection managers and artists - people working with collecting & collections at the heart of their practice. The exploration of institutional archival work is an evolution of my previous research into the private repositories of individuals. 

The interpersonal and material encounters made have inspired a varied body of work that seeks to question the spaces between valuable and invaluable, possession and absence, past and present, physical and digital, rational and emotional.

My work throughout the year draws inspiration from archival practices, responding to observations made, designing objects, systems and wearables.  Contemplation, concealment and accessibility, rituals of care and handling, principles of anti-consumption and systems of collecting and maintaining have informed my thinking. 

I believe in promoting the idea of conscious consumerism and taking stewardship over our belongings through strengthening the relationship with our existing wardrobes, considering garments as markers of our own personal history, while finding techniques to document our experience through making. 

This currently results in an auto-ethnographic experimentation of wearing the same garment for an extended period of time, tailored and modified in real time to accommodate a range of personal needs and practical adaptations. This experience is accompanied by short essays documenting this experience.

The title ‘Archival Confessions’ expresses the intimate personal revelations that accompanied my journey down the archive.

"The act of archiving introduces meaning, order, boundaries, coherence and reason into what is disparate or confused." [2]

The 'Wardrobe Archive' is an inventory of all garments and body-related objects I own. Each item is given an accession number based on year of garment category. type of acquisition, likeability, and frequency of use. In addition, as many details and narratives as possible were collated around each item of clothing. This archive catalog serves as an overview of my possessions and also raises the question of how far I can reduce my wardrobe to a minimum.

A stack of clothes representative of the Wardrobe Archive. All the garments owned by Justine.
The text care must be taken refers to the rituals of care applied when looking after our belongings.
Excerpts from the Wardrobe Archive displaying the story of each garment. Archive Care Label UV-printed on leather.
More examples of care labels applied to different garments as part of the Wardrobe Archive.
A grid of garments part of the Wardrobe Archive-
"Mixing scientific classification with creationism, (...) homo sapiens could equally be called 'homo archivist', because of its ability to order its curiosities into a type of language that animates the things of the world, bringing them into being. The archive as a divine status: through it the world is written into existence." [3]

An engagement with the people, materials, shapes and rituals in collections.

Inspired by 'The Impossible Wardrobe', I created padded hanger sculptures to emphasise padding rituals in archival care.
Observing archive rituals these 2 images give example for archive covers and padded hangers.
An excerpt from the interview catalogue 'Down the Archive' paired with an image taken in a fashion archive.
Metal Clamshell edging from production cut-offs applied to textile.
Archival Snakeweights worked into Textile and Garments as a method of care.

An auto-ethnographic wearing experiment over an extended period of time that tests the idea of anti-consumption by encouraging one to reduce one's wardrobe to the smallest possible minimum - a single garment - while adapting it to personal needs and leaving traces.

The Overall I wore for 5 months to the day-everyday.
Backview of the overall with an apotropaic sign. On the right an excerpt from a diary documenting the everyday wearing.
The sleeves and legs of the overall are buttonable to make it suitable for the change of seasons.
On the left the detail of a tactile decision tool with the letters DO/NT. On the right an excerpt from the diary documentation.
On the left a detail of a lavender collar inlay and a hidden pocket. The overall was altered and adjusted to personal needs.
The inside of a waistcoat as part of the overall with an added pocket in contrast material. Justine handling the overall.

contemplation - deep reflective thought leading to considered action

The archive as a thought-inducing space that holds stories to be rediscovered and provokes new thought. 'Contemplative Tools' is turning transient, found materials into resilient custom devices that help their wearer enter a state of contemplation.

A wearable device made from a found shell body to help you contemplate while listening to the recovered sound of the sea.
A wearable sculpture that imitates the feeling of holding hands when touch is made impossible, moulding into your palm.
Two wearable 'holding hand' sculptures, not worn.
The inspiration for the holding hand sculptures comes from keeping stones in your pockets as hand charms.
i. Siren- reminiscences the sound of the sea, stored in shell bodies ii. Present Absence – wearable sculptures imitating the sensation of holding hands.
"For what you really collect is always yourself." [6]


[1] Cardinal, R. The Eloquence of Objects, in: Shelton, A. (ed.). Collectors: Expressions of Self and Other. London : Horniman Museum and Gardens, 2001, p. 29

[2] Vaknin, J. All this Stuff: Archiving the Artist. Faringdon: Libri, 2013, p.3

[3] Jones, M. “The Temple of History: historians and the sacralisation of archival work". History Australia, Vol. 18, Issue 4 (2021): 684

[4] Tilda Swinton in 'The Impossible Wardrobe' (2012)

[5] Excerpt from my interview catalogue 'Down the Archive'. By Sarah Campbell at Central Saint Martins Museum & Study Collection

[6] Baudrillard, J. The System of Objects. London; New York: Verso, 1996, p.91

Thank You

To all my interview partners - for sharing your time and expertise with me

Conservation Resources - for the donation of production off-cuts

Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes