1st Edition

Insubordinate Costume Inspiring Performance

By Susan Marshall Copyright 2025
    256 Pages 105 Color Illustrations
    by Focal Press

    256 Pages 105 Color Illustrations
    by Focal Press

    Insubordinate Costume: Inspiring Performance presents a comprehensive study of historical and contemporary examples of scenographic costume – the type of costume that creates an almost complete stage environment by itself, simultaneously acting as costume, set and performance.

    This book provides readers with an overview of the costumes, designers, context and theory that have contributed to the emerging field of ‘costume as performance’. Focusing on artists and their creative approach to space, form, materials and movement, the book looks at iconic figures such as Loie Fuller, Oskar Schlemmer and Leigh Bowery, amongst contemporary examples of practitioners that are blurring disciplinary boundaries between fashion, dance, performance and theatre. The book includes chapters by Dr Sofia Pantouvaki, who focuses on performance costume as a means of research; Christina Lindgren, who presents the findings of the four-year “Costume Agency” project at Oslo National Academy of the Arts in Norway; Charlotte Østergaard, who discusses the implications of “Listening with costume” and Felix Choong, writing on “Contemporary Runways, Contemporary Costumes”. The final part of the volume, “The Practitioners’ Voice”, examines current practice through interviews and contributions from key practitioners.

    Insubordinate Costume will appeal to professional costume designers, performance artists, dancers, directors, choreographers, fashion designers and theorists, teachers and students of these subjects. With its interdisciplinary focus and unique and dynamic content, this publication is relevant to a range of art, design and performance courses.

    Part 1: Insubordinate Beginnings

    1. Insubordinate Beginnings

    Susan Marshall

    2. Dance, Performance Art and Insubordinate Costume

    Susan Marshall

    Part 2: Blurring the boundaries between theatre, dance, performance art and fashion

    3. Blurring the boundaries between theatre, dance, performance art and fashion

    Susan Marshall

    4. Contemporary Runways, Contemporary Costumes

    Felix Choong

    Part 3: The insubordinate here and now

    5. The insubordinate here and now

    Susan Marshall 

    6. On creating costume generated performances

    Christina Lindgren

    7. Listening with costume – a material-discursive practice

    Charlotte Østergaard

    8. Researching with and through Costume: Proposition for a Research Framework

    Sofia Pantouvaki

    Part 4: The practitioners’ voice

    9. The practitioners’ voice – edited interviews and contributions

    Susan Marshall et al

    Afterword. Can bad costumes do good things?

    Rachel Hann


    Dr Susan Marshall is a costume designer, adjunct professor of Twentieth Century Fashion at FIT in Milan, Politecnico di Milano and lecturer in costume design at AFOL Moda Milan. Insubordinate Costume is based on her doctoral research at Goldsmiths University of London, which explored the pivotal role of costume in performance and the fundamental importance of play in the performers’ creative approach to the costumes.