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.
Fashion wares for sale in a street market are widely considered to be the final stage in a product-cycle bracket. A closed system based on a hierarchy; from inception at a high design level, to obliteration, the ‘trickle-down’ effect has a beginning, middle and end.
As a platform for performance, the stage lends itself ideally to the pushing of sartorial boundaries to entertain an audience, so its no surprise that most ‘fashion moments’ in have occurred in this medium. From Josephine Baker to David Bowie, fashion and the arts share these seminal and nostalgically symbolic images. Novelty and expression are the most important notions of the stage, to amaze and push boundaries for an audience is only the beginnings of successful entertainment.
While sharing a meal themed around ‘reading between the lines’, Grazia’s Melanie Rickey, Disegno’s Johanna Agerman, Bon’s Madelaine Levy, Susanna Lau of Susie Bubble, Tamsin Blanchard of the Telegraph and scholars Elizabeth Wilson and Caroline Evans talked about the difficulties of negotiating editorial freedom and commercial dependence, how to bridge theory and practice in fashion and what writing about dress should aim to say about fashion today.
Rick Owens’ Michèle Lamy showed a select audience personal archive images and garments while telling tales about childhood rebellion, her love of adventure, how to create myths and the most important fashion moments in her life.
Patrick Scallon, communications director of Dries van Noten, spoke to a full house about the importance of remaining independent, how the industry has changed in the last two decades and the role he had in shaping the legacy of Maison Martin Margiela.