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Mulan Jr.: Welcome

The Born Project: Film Costumes

Act one—childhood—borrows inspiration from Martha Graham’s 1930 dance, Lamentation by using jersey fabric to strip the dancer of gender and transform them into the embodiment of emotion. While the womb-like fabric is constricting, it also presents the figure’s body in a malleable state. As the performer contorts and pushes against the fabric prison, their body leaves vague impressions. By segmenting the body, gender is alluded to but never confirmed. The performer’s gender is withheld from audience assumption and permitted to exist in an authentic state based purely on emotion, curiosity, and self-exploration.

Houses within queer ball culture reclaim fashion to be re-worked in their image. The gown in act three—adulthood— pays homage to this history by using reclaimed materials. The capitalist system artificially limits up-cycling to serve the needs of marketing demographic groups, while suppressing those who don’t fit in. The blazer—traditionally a male garment—borrows inspiration from 1980 female fashion. The blue coloring from the first act is used again here but now paired with layered fabric and exaggerated shoulders to mirror armor. The skirt pulls from the color palette of act two utilizing pieces of gendered fashion throughout various stages of life.

The theme of constriction is carried over into act two—adolescence—and heightened by transforming the womb-like state of the fabric into rope. This section focuses on the repercussion of a fluid, non-binary identity conforming to societal rules and gendered clothing. With the body on display, the performer, and in turn the audience, are permitted to subconsciously critique all aspects. Body dysmorphia, gender dysphoria, and anorexia are presented as real-world horrors born from assimilation.

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