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Wessie Ling

Reader in Fashion Practice

Department: Northumbria School of Design

A trained cultural historian and artist, Ling uses academic writing and visual art practice to address her work. The discourse of cultural identities in the production of fashion and cultural property of fashion are common themes in her work; in particular, the construction, expression and creation of an identity when producing fashion, its relation with the transnational locality and the tension within and outside of the fashion system in which it is produced. Fashion as an attitude, an idea or a resource, its pull-push force, the juxtaposition of its use and being used by it are threads in both her written and art- work. Author of Fusionable Cheongsam (2007), she has written widely on the socio-cultural revolution of the Chinese dress through which dissected the material culture in China. Such a geographic focus has led her to develop study in the 20thC Chinese fashion in which inter-East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) cultural dynamics in the making of fashion is examined in a recent AHRC awarded project on Translating and Writing Modern Design Histories for the Global World (2012-4). Subsequently in progress is an edited volume on Multiple Chinas which studies contemporary façade of China through post-1980s Chinese fashion taking into account not only the fast-developing country itself but also its diaspora and cultural interaction with Europe. In her visual art practice, she uses text and installation to create work that addresses the immaterial and soft power of fashion. Works were exhibited in Danson House (2013, UK: Bexleyheath), Brunei Gallery (2012, London: SOAS), Saltram House (2012, Plymouth: National Trust), Victoria & Albert Museum (2011, London) among others. She is currently developing a series of textual compositions from fragments of fashion advertising slogans into prints, audio, performance and text installations.

Dr Ling sits on the Editorial Board of Catwalk: The Journal of Fashion, Beauty and Style, also is the Organising Committee member of Fashion in Fiction (2014), a bi-annual international touring conference. She is the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art (CFCCA, Manchester).

At Northumbria, she leads CloTHINK, a design department-based faculty-wide research group, on fashion, textile, body, visual and material cultures, for which regular semester meetings and a guest speaker programme are held.


BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Transnationalism, modernities, postcolonial theories, cultural studies, visual cultures, interface between contemporary art practices and the cultural property of fashion, Chinese fashion, East Asia.

Current/Recent Projects

Co-Investigator, Translating and Writing Modern Design Histories in East Asia for the Global World, AHRC award 2012-4.

Key Publications

Ling, Wessie and Ossman, Susan (2012) The Fabric of Fieldwork. [Exhibition] Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, 17 April - 23 June.

Ling, Wessie (2012) Chinese Modernity, Identity and Nationalism: The Qipao in Republican China. In: Fashions: Exploring Fashion Through Cultures. Critical Issues. Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, pp. 83-94. ISBN 978-1-84888-015-3

Ling, Wessie (2012) 'Fashionalisation': why so many cities host fashion weeks. In: Fashion Capital. Style Economies, Sites and Cultures. Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, pp. 83-94. ISBN 9781848881433

Ling, Wessie (2011) 'National Dress', 'Fashion Chess'. Commission artwork. In: China through the looking glass. [Exhibition] Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 29 January. Artefacts toured to Fashion, Fifties, Emerging Feminism: A Contemporary Response, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London, 26 May - 21 September 2011; Sinopticon, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Saltram House (National Trust), Plymouth Amphitheatre, 28 April - 7 July 2012; Couriers of Taste, Danson House (Bexleyheath Heritage Trust), 1 April - 30 Oct 2013.

Ling, Wessie (2010) From "Made in Hong Kong" to "Designed in Hong Kong": Searching For an Identity in Fashion. Visual Anthropology, 24 (1-2), pp. 106-123. ISSN 0894-9468. Reprinted In: Hybrid Hong Kong. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 153-170. ISBN 978-0415695541

Ling, Wessie (2009) Harmony and Concealment: How Chinese Women Fashioned the Qipao in 1930s China. In: Material Women, 1750-1950: Consuming Desires and Collecting Practices. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 209-225. ISBN 978-0-7546-6539-7

To view my Northumbria Research Link page click here


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