When you make your commitment as a monk, after five or six years of probation, you are officially clothed in a cowl. The experience of being enveloped by it signifies being brought into monastic life. You become part of the fabric. The actual experience for the wearer is to be enveloped, and it induces a thoughtful, sober mood. It’s not frivolous. At the same time, nothing could be simpler in terms of the shape of the garment. But it’s not a totally impractical garment, so long as you don’t want to do a lot of things. If you want to sit, it’s perfectly comfortable, but it gives the kind of sobriety that’s inductive to the contemplative life. My best cowl and my newest (I have three in total), is seventeen years old. My oldest is from 1965 and I’m still wearing it every day. There is the slowness in that it impedes fast movement, but also attesting to the stability of the cowl. I suppose that is another sort of slowness, since you’re wearing the same garment for fifty- odd years and it doesn’t change colour, or season, or style.
The relationship between advertising (brand) and editorial (publication) in fashion has never been straightforward. As journalism scholar Lynda Davis argues ‘editorial is perhaps the most valuable form of media content because it is perceived to be unbiased and believable. Its ‘‘purity’’ (precisely because it is not advertising) derives from its aura of authority and neutrality.’ We examine the notion of editorial transparency, and how four different publishing platforms – The Business of Fashion, Nowness, Porter and The Talks – are dealing with the issue in relation to their respective funding models.
As publisher and director of Dazed Digital, Jefferson Hack oversees an editorial and media empire that now incorporates AnOther Magazine, Dazed Digital, AnOther Man, NOWNESS (funded by luxury conglomerate LVMH) as well as Dazed & Confused. On their website, Dazed Digital boasts global brands like Armani, Chanel, Nike, Swarovski and Dunhill as key clients. Given this, Dazed Digital is unequivocally embedded in the mainstream fashion system, making the political-sounding rhetoric and graphics of Hack’s latest offering We Can’t Do This Alone seem empty to say the least.
Calvin Klein’s heritage as a brand that attempts to push the boundaries with controversial, sexually-explicit advertisements has seemingly made a return this season with a campaign that serves up a well-worn narrative of ‘men act, women appear.’ The agenda of the brand’s new Spring 2016 campaign is clear: the trope of woman-as-objects sells, particularly through the lens of the campaign’s gritty, filmic aesthetic. It might sound like something we’ve heard before, but the reaction to the campaign – which, amongst other images, sees model Kendall Jenner presented as a collection of Polaroid body parts – has been alarmingly docile, prompting us to reignite the discussion since it’s hard to believe so little has changed when it comes to the portrayal of women in mainstream fashion media.
A handful of centimetres can have a lot of power in the business of shoes. Recognising a market for well-designed, well-made men’s ‘heels’, Jennen Ngiau-Keng’s began his company Taller Shoes in 2007 and now offers a range of over one hundred elevated men’s shoes. The company stocks a range, from black formalwear shoes to boating loafers, each of which add between five and thirteen centimetres to the wearer’s height with a reinforced insole.
Historically, fashion has an uncomfortable relationship with critique: mainstream media coverage by newspapers and magazines often shy away from rigour and analysis on fashion’s output of events and collections. This is a dynamic that is constantly repeated in its discourse. References to other cultural disciplines, namely art and literature, are used to legitimise the domain of fashion, and suggest that it’s an industry that fails to measure up to a similar level of intellectual rigour.
‘Idealistically power should lie in the origins of creativity. A true and clear vision is ultimately a source of power. Realistically however, we’re dealing with a much more complicated organism. Fashion has its own ecology, built on a hierarchy of psychological and cultural relationships, with a bit of internal politics thrown in for good measure.’
Mary Ping from Slow And Steady Wins the Race on power politics in fashion.
Emerging from fashion photography and styling that was intended as more realistic portrayal of fashion, the androgynous waif was a subversive take on mainstream fashion. But the look had broader implications, evolving from its original incarnation as documentary-style fashion photography into the minimalist grunge style adopted by designers in the latter years of the decade, such as Jil Sander, Helmut Lang and Josephus Thimister.
In many ways Susan Cianciolo’s work evades a formal category. For the most part she is a designer, but also maker, artist, director, among other roles that allow her to create her exhibitions and performances.
The much-appropriated Bryanboy gesture – one hand at waist, hip cocked with the other hand is held high, proudly clutching a designer handbag – has become a powerful symbol in the digital era. More broadly, the ‘blogger pose’, as it has come to be known in the digital landscape, has given the everyday fashion follower the opportunity to adopt a centre-of-attention status in a culture of fashion commerce.
Performance is something integral to fashion, in industry, and our everyday experience: from catwalk presentations, photo shoots and red carpet events to the dressing up we engage with in our daily lives, all are very much acts of performance in an industry that is necessarily expressive. Artist Adele Varcoe’s work is concerned with these functions – a keen observer of the phenomenon of fashion and our responsive behaviour, her performance events and happenings aim to address fashion and our experience of clothing.
In 2011, a ‘Birkin’ bag, the iconic Hermès made-to-measure travelgood, sold for a record price of $US203,000 at Heritage, an auction house that specialises in luxury accessories. Taking advantage of this burgeoning market, Christies began selling luxury accessories, listing Birkin bags and other similar brands for hefty prices.