Smells Like Teen Spirit – 1/8

Subcultures and street style

Debates: (alls these can relate to my practice)

  • identity expression within visual and material culture
  • how are gender, race and ethnicity, class, sexuality, youth identity and anti-establishment values expressed visually?
  • how do subcultures recycle style and material objects and generate new meanings?

Political statements made through looks and practice: change functions of materials as subcultures change functions of materials they wear.

Columns analysis: organise thoughts; used to analyse an image


In this part of the lecture, we were shown an image of work by Jean-Paul Gaultier (item of clothing made for Madonna. [example below]

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 11.24.46.png

As a group, using the columns analysis technique, we analysed  this image.


The idea of this format of working is to describe each part of what Madonna is wearing and then analyse that, touching on ideas and knowledge you already know. Then once you’ve describe and analysed as much as you can, you then research books in the library to back up your knowledge from what someone has already said.

For the theory part of this particular column’s analysis, I would go into the library and research the following:

  • Suit: such a big part of the analysis, back up this claim, find quotes e.g. traditionally masculine
  • Corset: what do they look like, victorian times, etc; looking for info you can back up your analysis – how has Gaultier broke the rules?
  • Gender: masculine stereotypes, post-feminine
  • Gaultier: read up on interviews with Gaultier
  • Don’t just go into certain sections in the library, there are more types of theory.

Third column: will generate support for analysis; connects ideas to wider academic contexts; return to analysis with new ideas; allows you to see images from wider perspectives.


  • never start with intro!
  • 3 chunks of paragraphs explaining image
  • description/analysis/theory: always go across, point to point
  • once written 3 paragraphs, add an intro, link the paragraphs together, then add a conclusion
  • always use notes



Author: ellenreiddesign

First year Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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