Phenomenology and the little brown dress

"I am making one small, personal attempt to confront consumerism by refusing to change my dress for 365 days." So began the year-long performance work LittleBrownDress by Seattle choreographer Alex Martin. For a full year, which just ended July 7, she wore a hand-made (open-source) brown dress of her own design. Yes, she washed it, patched it, replaced a few buttons. Yes, she took it off to sleep at night. But for the full year, chronicled at her blog, she wore the simple outfit--as art and as protest against fashion conformity, sweatshop labor, and commodity culture in general. As she journaled her day-by-day experiences, the project gained international audiences, from interviews in Canada and Australia and a nice writeup in the Seattle Times, to countless reader comments and a Today show appearance.

But after the final performance, an Undressing Party, someone swiped the dress off the stage. And, like the famed Traveling Gnome Prank, the thief is emailing Martin pictures of the dress' whereabouts:
On Saturday night they emailed me photos of the dress sinking into a body of water (which I think is Lake Washington) . . . and on Sunday night (just a few hours ago) they sent a photo of the dress at a Goodwill donation station.

Now, I was sort of excited about the dress having a final resting place in our local waterways (it's all biodegradable, after all, and I imagined it enjoying a peaceful, slow decomposition amongst the tangy pollution and lusty migrating Coho.

Then I had a brief fantasy that the dress would begin sending missives from exotic locales, in the manner of the 'Amelie' garden gnome. But that would have taken quite a bit of commitment on the part of the hacker, and I'd have been surprised and impressed.

So, it appears that the dress is now in the hands of our mega-thrift powerhouse, Seattle Goodwill. Now, I've worked for Seattle Goodwill before, and I just don't think the brown dress will make the cut on the production floor. That sucker is really worn out. I'm debating whether to make a call to my friends Alice and Betsy just so they know what they might have their hands on . . . otherwise I'm pretty sure the dress will be baled for scrap, and who knows where it will end up!
What's next for Martin? Intrigued by her experiment in living in an "intentional wardrobe," she's planning a year wearing "only things I have made myself head to toe (including shoes, bag, jewelry, underwear, socks, you name it)."


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