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Nicole Crozier's Strip Fit Collages: Cutting into a New Vision of Female Beauty and Power


Haute Couture is a culture of excess that entangles and confuses female power with consumer power. Toronto-based media artist Nicole Crozier's Strip Fit collages feature fragments from popular fashion magazines as acts of exploration and subversion. Interested in the fashion model's commodity mannequin, part of a capitalist matrix of sexual desire and semantics of consumption, her work provides a record of Western conceptions of beauty while simultaneously gesturing toward embodied transcorporeality. Identity becomes assemblage between women and the natural world, reclaiming a space of women-nature togetherness.
Nicole Crozier’s
Strip Fit
Collages: Cutting into a New Vision of
Female Beauty and Power
Toronto-based mixed media artist Nicole Crozier builds on a long tradition of collage, assemblage
and found art which has revolutionized the art world since the twentieth-centur y. She cuts
and fragments images from popular fashion magazines as acts of exploration and subversion.
Interested in the fashion model’s function as a commodity mannequin, part of a capitalist matrix
of sexual desire and the semantics of consumption, Crozier ’s Strip Fit series of collages provide
viewers with a fragmented record of Western conceptions of female beauty.
Haute couture is a culture of excess that entangles and confuses female power with
consumer power. Nicole’s work unsettles and tears apart an industry that constructs ideals of
female beauty through the production of advertising. In this economic model, advertisements are
money; they are power. By cutting, extracting, layering, lighting up and photographing fragments
of these magazine ads that she has found or that have been passed on to her, Crozier blurs the
lines between the marketing industry and the production of art.
The models in these magazines represent highly stylized sites of narrative power. They
emphasize the seductive and sell more than clothing: they provoke feelings and desires; they
organize value systems that at once glorify a certain type of body while manufacturing a universal
kind of beauty sellable to as many women as possible. While not every woman can buy a Chanel
dress, Coco Mademoiselle is a perfume targeted to the middle-class consumer. Protability drives
the industry’s shift toward featuring more aordable items such as accessories and make-up lines
in their advertisements. The particular smell of the perfume or shade of eyeshadow is not as
important as the power of the brand.
The world created by these advertisements, then, is one in which the middle-class
consumer agrees to leap into a luxury lifestyle which excludes her and, paradoxically, seduces her
and invites her to participate in it vicariously through the purchase of cheap(er) product lines. This
outsider-insider tension sustains her desire to be part of a bigger franchise: the jet-set world of
celebrities and wealthy public gures that attend the catwalks she can glimpse in magazines and on
the screen but not attend in person. In a system that manufactures a perpetual lack of satisfaction
symptomatic of the consumerist impulse for more—always more in search of a morphing ideal—
we nd the blueprints of an unsustainable model of endless production.
Never mind the social and environmental devastation caused by the ready-to-wear
industry that produces thousands of low-quality outts per season, many of which are thrown in
the garbage when not sold, or discarded by consumers shortly thereafter. The fashion industr y
has been synonymous with excess for a long time; it is now being read, measured and talked
about in terms of waste. It produces tons of garbage, literally. According to a 2017 article, “more
than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated each year in the United States” (The Balance).
H&M, Zara, Club Monaco, Forever 21 and others like them produce clothing that ends up in the
dump faster than ever before: “an average American throws away approximately 80 pounds of
used clothing per [year]” (The Balance). Crozier’s collages cut through the excess and dump of
the fashion industry in favour of a new and polyphonic vision of female beauty and power: by
subverting and sabotaging the advertising industry’s intent to conate self with product; by re-
image-ining women’s relationships with the living organic environment around them; by inserting
what I call “moments of poetry” into advertisements as a way of celebrating their artistic potential.
Scritch, dimensions variable, Digital Inkjet Print.
In “Scritch,” for example, the fragmented models, featured in the centre of the image,
produce an eect of multiplicity: these are the eyes and arms of not one, but many women.
Tightly choreographed for unity, however, Crozier has picked women wearing pink sweaters. Pink
is not just a colour, explains Veronika Koller. It is a marker in visual communication for gender and
sexuality. Beyond its cliché connotations with heterosexual femininity and feminine homosexuality
(associated with gay men in particular) “and its stereotypical features, such as softness and delicacy,
with childhood and innocence as well as with vanity and articiality” (396), Kollers study suggests
pink also tips into negative connotations such as naiveté, stupidity and cheapness (404).
 Inthiscollage,“theeectsoflowsaturation”provokeasensefemininityassociatedtothe
 Weseethisrstofallinthelayeringofmultiplewomenintoasinglebody.Theeectis
 Neoliberalismsustainsthebeautymythbyconfusingrelationshipswomenhavewith
maintainaconstantstateofvigilanceabouttheirappearance(Aesthetic Labour: Rethinking Beauty
Politics in Neoliberalism55-60;317-322).Undertheself-governingmodelofneoliberalism,girls
 Crozier’s“Scritch”bringsattentiontothewayouridentitiesareshapedbytheimages
women’sfacestogetherinanewcontext,Crozier sworkalsogesturestowardsisterhoodoutside
Left: Snick, dimensions variable, Digital Inkjet Print. Right: SpiderLash, dimensions variable, Digital
Inkjet Print
Importantly, the introduction of leaves and branches in “Scritch” suggests the living
environment has agency in women’s bodies and lives. Usually, the focus in fashion images is placed
on the model and the products. Here, however, three dimensional natural elements literally stand
out of the source collage and give the nal photograph its depth. Crozier ’s “Snick” and “SpiderLash”
also decentralize the model’s face in favour of images of the natural world. Here, images of leaves
and twigs mould and morph with the women’s faces.
In “Snick,” we see the portrait of a hybrid woman who stands somewhere between human
and natural world. Building on Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto,” a founding posthumanist
text that blurs boundaries between human, animal, the natural world and machine in favour
of coalition through anity, I suggest Croziers “Scritch,” “Snick,” and “SpiderLash” create poetic
moments that gesture toward transcorporeality. By transcorporeality, a term coined by Stacey
Alaimo, I mean that our bodies are situated in a material world that is porous and amorphous,
Alaimo, Stacy. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Indiana University
Press, 2010.
Elias, A. S., et al., editors. Aesthetic Labour: Rethinking Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism.
Palgrave MacMillan, 2017.
Kelly, Maura. “Knitting as a feminist project?” Women’s Studies International Forum, vol. 44,
2014, pp. 133-144.
Koller, Veronika. “‘Not just a Colour’: Pink as a Gender and Sexuality Marker in Visual
Communication.Visual Communication, vol. 7, no. 4, 2008, pp. 395-423. http://
Leblanc, Rick. “Textile Recycling Facts and Figures.The balance small business, 29 Dec. 2017,
May 2018.
Myzelev, Alla. “Whip Your Hobby into Shape: Knitting, Feminism and Construction
of Gender.Textile, vol. 7, no. 2, 2009, pp. 148-163.
feminist political action?” thirdspace: a journal of feminist theory & culture, vol. 8,
no. 1, 2008.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
In the last fifteen years, domestic hobbies especially needle and paper crafts have been revived and rediscovered in the English-speaking world. In the forefront of this renewed interest in old-fashioned hobbies is knitting. Contemporary proponents claim that this craft helps them to achieve balance between their busy lives and dedicate some time to themselves. They often take their project to public spaces such as coffee shops, pubs, and park benches. Publishing houses speedily cash in on the revival by providing increasing numbers of pattern books to local bookstore chains. Hence, knitting constitutes an ideal case study for redefining the role of craft in contemporary popular culture. This article argues that knitting participates in an opening up of the three binary oppositions, namely original vs. copy, public vs. private in relation to space, and heterosexual vs. homosexual.Related to the past and conceived nostalgically through connection to our parents' and grandparents' domestic activity, knitting is rapidly being revitalized and repackaged by such groups as Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch as hip and fun. Women of any age but especially younger women in their twenties and thirties see knitting as empowering hobby because it provides an opportunity to undertake something purely unpractical and inefficient. It provides a conceptual link and helps redefine the historical and contemporary significance of domesticity in society.In the attempt to repackage and change the image of the craft several publications establish a connection between knitting and sexuality. These books construct knitting as not only a worthwhile and altruistic pastime but also as a decadent, self-indulgent, and subversive action. For example, Domiknitrix: Whip Your Knitting into Shape offers a bikini pattern as well as other edgy projects such as deep-décolleté tops and seductive hair and headpieces. Traditionally associated with home handicrafts, knitting had emerged into communal, activist practice. Contemporary popular media has also tied knitting to ideas of physical and spiritual love, peace amongst the nations, meditation, and rebelliousness against previous generations.This research looks at the knitted objects and the images that appear in the media to explore how knitting as a phenomenon helps women and men negotiate their everyday lives. Dedicating time to such traditional, time-consuming activities promotes the idea of conscious choice, of being in charge of one's life and time. Participating in these activities provides an outlet for relaxation, slowing down and taking in simple life pleasures. My research builds on this argument and looks further at the knitted objects themselves to examine their roles in the lives of their makers and consumers. Using contemporary material culture scholarship, which underlines the importance of identity formation through agency, I try to determine how the knitted erotic objects differ from items purchased in stores. What is the role of the handmade and self-produced? How do hand-knitted items that become part of interior display help to negotiate the identities and individualities of their makers? Finally, this article looks at how the presence of knitters in different social contexts helps to blur the binary division between public and private space. It also discusses the gendered appeal of knitting books and the total omission of gay men and their interests from the literature.
In 2015 the Australian teenager Essena O’Neill quit Instagram and became headline news around the world. O’Neill, who had more than 600,000 followers on Instagram, earned ‘thousands of dollars’ from marketers for each post, she said, but could no longer tolerate the shameless manipulation of her images and the painful costs of ‘self-promotion’. ‘Resigning’ from the site, she deleted 2000 posts and ‘re-captioned’ the remaining 96 to draw attention to the artifice involved in their production—not just the (notorious) use of filters and ‘retouching’, much discussed in relation to magazine and advertising imagery, but also the poses, the happy and carefree attitude, and the fake intimacy involved. Of one image she wrote: ‘see how relatable my captions were - stomach sucked in, strategic pose, pushed up boobs. I just want younger girls to know this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. It’s contrived perfection made to get attention’.
How do we understand the agency and significance of material forces and their interface with human bodies? What does it mean to be human in these times, with bodies that are inextricably interconnected with our physical world? Bodily Natures considers these questions by grappling with powerful and pervasive material forces and their increasingly harmful effects on the human body. Drawing on feminist theory, environmental studies, and the sciences, Stacy Alaimo focuses on trans-corporeality, or movement across bodies and nature, which has profoundly altered our sense of self. By looking at a broad range of creative and philosophical writings, Alaimo illuminates how science, politics, and culture collide, while considering the closeness of the human body to the environment.
This article investigates the functions of the colour pink as a marker of gender and sexuality in cultural models and the multimodal texts they inform. To this end, tendencies suggested by a pilot survey on colour associations are traced in a number of visual texts such as leaflets, advertisements, websites and magazines, where pink functions to gender textual referents, attract female readers' attention and index both sexuality and sexual identity. Both informants' associations and the multimodal text analysis show evidence of an emergent schema that relates pink to post-feminist femininity. This is seen as complementing and extending conventional and counter-cultural associations of pink with stereotypically feminine characteristics or gayness, respectively. Ultimately, the author argues for an approach to colour that combines social semiotics with cognitive semantics.
Textile Recycling Facts and Figures
  • Rick Leblanc
Leblanc, Rick. "Textile Recycling Facts and Figures. " The balance small business, 29 Dec. 2017, Accessed 29 May 2018.
Feminism, activism, and knitting: Are the fibre arts a viable mode for feminist political action?
  • Beth Pentney
  • Ann
Pentney, Beth Ann. "Feminism, activism, and knitting: Are the fibre arts a viable mode for feminist political action?" thirdspace: a journal of feminist theory & culture, vol. 8, no. 1, 2008. pentney/210.