Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Fashion: Art or Not?
Upper Intermediate to Advanced level


In this lesson Ss will have an informal discussion on fashion (what does it entail and who is it for), focusing on the consumer and the fashion designer and how each player interacts with and uses fashion. One pre-reading exercise will be assigned to guide and inspire conversation on the subject of fashion as art. An in-class opinion questionnaire, on jewellery expectations for men and woman, will be provided to guide discussion on the different forms of decoration for the body. During the last portion of the lesson, if time allows, Ss will be tasked with creating a fashion statement (a message communicated through a piece of clothing or outfit).


Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with the opportunity to discuss and debate, informally, the logic and irrationality of fashion.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with, and use, phrasal verbs connected with fashion and clothing.


Warmer/Lead-in (7-10 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Write on the WB FASHION. Elicit from the Ss what sort of clothes they wear most often. "What is your favorite outfit?" Write the answers on the WB. Elicit from some of the Ss, individually, the rationale behind their favorite outfit. "Why is it your favorite outfit? Is it based off of color, design, the clothing material, or something else? Is it your favorite outfit because it feels comfortable on you, it looks really good on you and makes you look good too, or due to something else?" Continue the discussion with some follow-up questions. "Do you wear different clothes for work or study? In what way are they different? Do you think your teacher dresses differently during the weekends than while she is teaching? How so?; What do you wear for more formal occasions and for parties?; Where do most of you buy your clothes from (try to collect some name brand stores from the Ss' answers)?; Does anyone here have a favorite designer that they like to wear (i.e. designer label clothes)?; Does anyone here read any fashion magazines or follow any designers online?"

Exposure (12-15 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks through reading

Refer the WC to the pre-reading task ("Fashion--What's the Point?"). Elicit from the WC their answer to the article's question--'What is the point of fashion?.' "What is the point of fashion for consumers? What is the point of fashion for the fashion designers? Is there a big difference in fashion's purpose between the consumer and the fashion designer?" Project a picture of Bjork's outfit and have the WC respond. "How do you think Bjork's outfit sounds and looks?" Write on the WB BRILLIANT, OUTRAGEOUS, and DECADENT. "If you arrived at a party and someone was wearing a dress like that, what would you think?" Write on the WB some possible answers: "How embarrassing!; Where can I get one?; What a waste of money!" "What would you say if you were introduced to them?" Write on the WB some possible answers: "I just love your outfit; What are you wearing?; Who's your designer?" Based on the Ss answer(s) to the purpose of fashion for the fashion designers, ask some follow-up questions. "Are fashion designers attention seekers or artists? Do you think fashion can be considered another form of art (like a painting or a sculpture)? Can a fashion designer make a statement with their clothing collection--can they have an underlying message connected to their collection? If so, what statement do you think Bjork's dress was making at the time--she wore the dress in 2001? Do you think extraordinary clothes challenge the way we live? Why or why not?"

Productive Task: A Snapshot of Couture Fashion (10-13 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Divide the WC into groups and provide the Ss with a HO, depicting a series of pictures from many different couture fashion shows from the designer Alexander McQueen (the fashion designer that made Bjork's red, microscope slide dress). Have the Ss look at these pictures and respond. "What do you think about these outfits? Are these useful or useless and why? These were all designed by Alexander McQueen, the fashion designer that created Bjork's red microscope slide dress. What kind of message, if any, do you think McQueen is trying to make? How is McQueen challenging our perceptions, our biases, our views of the world?" Bring the groups together for WC FB. Project the couture pictures on the WB during WC discussion.

Useful Language (12-14 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Write on the WB PHRASAL VERBS: CLOTHING and the following phrasal verbs: "To try on; to dress up; to kick off; to do up; to wear out; to hang up; to slip on; to grow out of." Try to elicit from the Ss the meaning for each of these phrasal verbs. Have the Ss practice proper use of the phrasal verbs, through a discussion of some contextual examples. "Who likes to get dressed up? How often?; How often do you go to the Mall, try on an outfit, and don't buy it?; Who hangs up their clothes to dry?; How often do you wear out your shoes (your pants; your entire wardrobe)?; How quickly, would you say, children in general grow out of their clothes?"

Productive Task: Fashion Police (13-16 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Write on the WB STYLE and FASHION. Try to elicit from the Ss the differences between these two words. T Note: Style is not just clothes. It is how one presents oneself. Style lasts much longer (it can last an entire person's life, if their style is consistent) and is more predictable than fashion (you can predict a person's style based off of their personality). Fashion usually follows a popular style (e.g. cut and color of the fabric) but not all individual styles are considered fashionable. Style starts from the bottom up; though an individual's style can be influenced by popular trends. Fashion is from the top down. Fashion is a popular style or practice (generally in clothing) that is very distinctive/specific and habitual (it lasts for a short time and changes at random). Organize the WC into groups and have them come up with 5 fashion tips, to improve the popular styles of today. "You are the fashion police. What would you get rid of and why?" Bring the groups together for WC FB, discussion, and debate. Write some of the unique and funny group answers on the WB.

Productive Task: Jewellery for Men (15-18 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

"Clothing isn't just the only way to express our style, or fashion tastes. We also wear jewellery and some of us even get permanent decoration on our bodies, like piercings or tattoos." Elicit from the WC who has a piercing or a tattoo on their body. Elicit the reason(s) for why they chose that permanent form of decoration. Ask some probing questions: --"What do you think about the amount of jewellery that young sportsman and other celebrities wear? Do you think they wear too much jewellery?" --"Do you think men should wear jewellery? Why or why not?" --"What about women? Do you think they can sometimes wear too much jewellery?" Instruct the WC that they are going to learn the opinions of their fellow peers on the subject of jewellery. Highlight that each Ss should get the opinions of both a male and a female classmate. Distribute the "Jewellery Questionnaire" HO. Demonstrate the activity with another Ss before releasing the WC. Following paired discussion, bring the WC together for FB.

Productive Task: Jewellery for Men Continued (10-13 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Project on the WB a series of pictures--of some tattooed and pierced individuals and a man with too much jewellery. Have the WC respond to the images with some probing questions. --"Do you like what the people have done to themselves? Why or why not?" --"If any of these people were friends of yours and they had suddenly changed their appearance to look like this, what would you say to them?" --"How would you feel if one of your children came home looking like this? What would you say to them?"

IF TIME Productive Task: Making a Fashion Statement (40-45 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Reorganize the Ss into new groups. Distribute the HO with some pictures of clothing and the associated vocabulary words provided. Instruct the groups that you want them to come up with a fashion statement, with any of the clothing items provided on this HO. "You are a designer for Istanbul's Couture Fall 2017 Collection. You just need to contribute one outfit to the fashion show. You are a fashion designer with a message that you want to communicate to the rest of the world (as we have been discussing throughout this lesson). Design your outfit according to your message. You can also think about jewellery and other forms of decoration for your statement outfit." Provide the groups with at least 10 to 15 minutes to come up with their fashion design. Then have each group briefly explain their outfit, and their message, to the rest of the class.

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