Few fashion archetypes measure up as having the symbolic power that the ‘business suit’ has. The suit is both a symbol of power and professionalism in corporate culture, but also of monotony and complacency, which in turn hints at the potential for human frailty.
In November this year Louis Vuitton raised an epic suitcase-shaped pavilion in Moscow’s Red Square to celebrate and promote the history of the brand. The project was ambitious, but ultimately controversial and arguably an unsuccessful one since after just ten days the brand was ordered to dismantle the structure by local officials due to its size and positioning in the square.
The high heel race is a curious phenomenon that has emerged in the last ten years as a popular fund-raising activity. The events require competitors, women (and sometimes men as well), to strap themselves into a pair of stilettos for a 100m sprint across a finish line.
James Agee’s seminal novel Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was published in 1941 with Walker Evans’ poignant photographs at the height of the Great Depression. During Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ program, the pair were commissioned for eight weeks in America’s South to document the living conditions of sharecropper workers.
The street photographer, as opposed to a studio image-maker, engages with a working process that observes and captures events and arrangements of people, engaging with elements out of their sphere of control. New York-based photographer Joel Meyerowitz describes the actions of street photography as outward looking and observant, ‘as if we were fishermen in the stream of Fifth Avenue’, in contrast to the studio image, for which the photographer directs their energy inward, and it is therefore an introspective practice.
The word ‘glamour’ at its origins, is derived from the English word ‘grammar’. The Scottish adapted the term to ‘gram(m)arye’ around 1720 from the its English/Greek (letter of the alphabet) origins and took it to mean ‘magic, or beauty and charm’. A meaning that has developed considerably to become something with a strong affiliation with fashion and leisure in image culture.
On the surface, appearing like any other fashionable magazine launch, upon closer inspection this evening was anything but. Hostesses greeted guests with lipstick stains on their teeth, a guest had her skirt tucked in her underwear and another had the price tag on her trousers still attached.
Written in 1922, and later translated to English in 1951, Siddhartha is a seminal work by the German author Hermann Hesse. The cultural influence of Siddhartha reached its apex in the context of the Sixties, in the burgeoning hippy era of the time, but the book has lasting resonance as a point of reference of early contact for the West with the alternative philosophies and narratives that became increasingly popular to experiment and explore with.
Oscar Wilde’s influence in both his prose and personal style has reached a mythical and iconic status, yet of the writer’s personal wardrobe only a white dress shirt has survived. So it’s almost perfect for the man of such grand reputation and words that only a simple shirt remains, but its survival is owed to a sum of coincidence.
Discussion of the fashioned body so often focuses on clothing; but, no less a realm for the symbolic power of fashion, is the head. In today’s post we raise our eyes to one of the many such cultural phenomena that sits on the highest peak of the human body
The day dawned bleak and chill, a moving wall of grey light out of the north-east which, instead of dissolving into moisture, seemed to disintegrate into minute and venomous particles, like dust that, when Dilsey opened the door of the cabin and emerged, needled laterally into her flesh, precipitating not so much a moisture as a substance partaking of the quality of thin, not quite congealed oil.
One of the first costume scholars, and a long-time conservator at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, James Laver is a key figure of early fashion academia, and one of the first to write critically on clothes (or ‘finery’ as it was then referred to), and how we engage with them socially and culturally.