While some would argue the format of the freak show never gone away, the scopophilic frisson of the American sideshow, coupled with the message that internal depravity rather than physical disability is the true marker of the ‘freak’ has largely been absent in popular culture since Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ was filmed in 1932.
Though journalist James Harkin‘s theory sits in the context of economics, it could be applied to the rise of niche fragrances we are currently witnessing. While large beauty corporations like Coty, Givaudan or International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) continue to thrive, small ‘niche’ companies have proven to be highly successful competitors.
The Fashion Cycle, or Trend Cycle, helps us trace a garment’s journey from ‘in’ to ‘out’ of fashion. It’s a idea most would be familiar with, even those who don’t maintain a particular interest in fashion, since it presents a framework for looking at the economics of the fashion system as a whole, encompassing high to low.
The term ‘unisex’, rather fittingly, was coined in the Sixties. Prefixing ‘sex’ with ‘uni–‘ (meaning ‘one’) in the context of fashion refers to a single garment or aesthetic that is shared by both sexes. It suggests that a garment or hairstyle is not engendered and can be worn by either sex without connotations of masculine or feminine.
Fashion, sex and fragrance. All are, whether in a tactile, carnal or olfactorial sense, desires to be fulfilled but also generators of desire in themselves. A large motivating factor in dressing and scenting ourselves is in the hope of attracting a sexual partner; we dress to be undressed, and scent ourselves to invite someone to take a step closer.
Jeans are one of the most powerful clothing icons of the twentieth-century. Famously named after the French town of Nîmes where the characteristic twill that forms the denim fabric originated, the etymological origin of the word is surprisingly literal: the simplification of the phrasing ‘de Nîmes’ into a single noun.
Fragrance plays a pivotal supporting role for fashion companies by offering a democratic way for consumers to buy into an otherwise unattainable luxury brand. Fashion houses thrive, even depend, on something as seemingly transient as a bottle of perfume.
The word ‘collar’ presents a sort of curt simplicity that seems to fit its form and function as an object of dress. Thought to originate around 1300, the term originates from the old French ‘coler’, referring to the neck, which formed from the Latin term ‘collum’ having a similar meaning.
The main similarity between fashion and fragrance seems simple enough: we wear both on our bodies. However, there are more complex coinciding structures within these decorative matters of the human flesh at second glance. Beginning with Coco Chanel’s eponymous ‘No. 5’ fragrance to the more recent trend of celebrity fragrances, the following series considers the correlations between the consumer industries and ideologies behind clothing and perfume.
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.
We have seen how the vintage aesthetic can be employed in order to reconnect with bygone times, how it can be seen as a way to hold onto the past, whilst simultaneously remoulding it in the image of the future. In new vintage clothing past, present and future seem to converge in a manner which incarnates each element in equal measure, whilst concurrently not embodying any of them.
Fashion and photography share certain characteristics. Each claims the status of art, yet remains at its margins. The claims of photography have achieved recognition to some extent, yet photography-as-art constitutes only a small part of all photography. Fashion’s claim to artistic status remains contentious.