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
Desire. Intention. Ambition. If fashion has long been the crowning companion of the wealthy, it can also be a powerful accomplice to the disadvantaged through its sense of play and artifice. Assuming a persona can be empowering, and manipulating it adds to the irony. So what happens when the disaffected communities of New York take their dreams to the ballroom?
Fashion and architecture are both telling symbols of the personal, social and cultural identity of an age, reflecting as they do, the concerns of the user as well as the ambitions of the era. The primary function of both fashion and architecture has always been to provide shelter and protection for the human body, but where architecture arguably appears to always strive for progress, fashion can be both unashamedly nostalgic and ephemeral.
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.
Filmed between 1966 and 1980 by the self-proclaimed Magus of cinema, Kenneth Anger, Lucifer Rising is Anger’s portrait of the love generation, the dawning of a new age and morality. Continuing on from his previous works where fashion becomes a tool of power to conjure a magical sense of being, an invisible and volatile force, Lucifer Rising furthers this exploration crossing through millennia and civilisations.
The white shirt: a neutral surface and the basis of a man’s wardrobe – according to many-a-style manual. And thus, the white shirt is invariably presented as a garment that serves as the canvas against which the wearer’s individuality will emerge. According to this line of thought, the white shirt focuses and frames the body, while itself receding quietly into the background.
The blogger and the city; this crucial dynamic is an important and oft neglected aspect of fashion blogs – a consistent presence and relationship that is utterly essential to the context of nearly all of these platforms. To date, the discussion on fashion blogs in academia has been predominantly concerned with the technological and social implications.
With the power to transgress social codes and conventions, clothes can reveal themselves as a weapon, a provocation, a liberation; in darker times, repression. From documentaries to features to recordings of performances, this series of films explores fashion’s intimate complicity to the film medium in order to summon power in both contemporary and past times.
In the realm of spectacle, fashion and image reign. Agents of illusion and artifice, they play a role within the system and game of hierarchy. With Italian filmmaker and provocateur Frederico Fellini’s unbridled theatricality, the Catholic Church comes under such consideration and mockery.