Following the Silhouette: Margaret Atwood after a Fashion(Panel)
Kathryn Franklin (University of Toronto)
Lee Frew (York University)
In a 2019 interview in the Sunday Times Style section, Margaret Atwood confessed that she has always had a desire to enter the world of fashion: “I wasn’t just interested in the making of clothes, but more what they looked like. I have been to many fashion shows. I follow the silhouettes.” She further explains her interest in fashion lies in the way it forms histories and influences industries and shapes identities. In Self-Fashioning in Margaret Atwood’s Fiction (2005), Cynthia Kuhn highlights the symbolic value of clothing in Atwood’s fiction and argues that fashion and style function as metaphorical extensions of the public and private lives of her characters. To be sure, fashion is often at the center of Atwood’s work. From the iconic red cloaks worn in The Handmaid’s Tale (and subsequently adopted by activists protesting against governments imposing totalitarian rules) to the futuristic smart self-cleaning gym suits in Oryx and Crake, fashion and dress are frequently used as ciphers in Atwood’s work to address her philosophies concerning art, culture, and politics.
In this vein, The Margaret Atwood Society invites papers that consider fashion, understood broadly as a signifier of clothing and style and an expression of social, technological, and political change, as an integral component of Atwood’s work.