Friday, March 13, 2009

fashion. representation. femininity.

Fashion and dress cannot be discussed without the topic of femininity. The idea of representation and fashion. What it means to wear something and what that something says about the individual. The article “Fashion, Representation, Femininity,” discusses two things that are taken for granted: fashion’s traditional identification with femininity and the primacy of the body within the clothing system. These are two very important topics within the course and women’s studies as it relates to fashion.The body has everything to do with gender difference and even more so dress. Fashion therefore incorporates both the body and dress, and it is fundamental in discussing gendered identities. From the time an infant is released from the hospital- it is either wrapped in a pink or blue blanket. Already at birth we can see the gendering of `dress’ and its role in determining an identity. Dress conceptualizes femininity and changes it. Does society’s effect of gender change fashion, or does fashion change how society reads gender?The article goes on to look at fashion as a practice, “...women as both producers and consumers of fashion design, and hence a practice, a signifying practice.” Couture set forth the business chic wear. Masculinity was transmitted into the femininity of dress. An example noted in the lecture and in the readings is Chanel’s famous suit. It has little or no emphasis on curves creating a sexual transgression.This brings me to the next article I would like to look at “Exotic impulses and techniques of Fashion.” The article discusses the techniques in which fashion `plays on social intercourse’ by visually displaying sexual transgressions. Exoticism I would define in one word: difference. The difference from western dress, that stands apart from western fashion and also influences it. The article discusses the body as a field in which people display belongings and materials to display personal status and wealth. Sexuality is achieved by `enhancing’ what is there. In both ways, the body and materials work together to create an end product of what we want to project to anyone looking. Objects that are original and rare are just as valuable in creating status as things with monetary value. This point relates to the ‘exoticism’, people who have the privilege of culture and travel build a collection of exotic goods and dress- only to be displayed to present status. Is this still prevalent in modern society? Does one display rare articles from different countries to simply imply snobbery? I believe that both of these articles are very true and not just in history but in present day society. I would argue that trend setting in regards to exotic fashion takes precedence over fashion of monetary value. However I will contradict this point by mentioning fashion that may be deemed `ugly’ upon first glance will get a second thought if there is a well established label attached. Dress and decoration still contribute to the display of wealth and status just as ever before. It is however, easier to mimic ‘high fashion’ with so many replicas and ‘knock-offs’. Stores like H&M pose a great threat to designers because of how quickly there designs are mimicked and reproduced to sell at these stores. Designers such as Roberto Cavalli and Karl Lagerfeld cope by launching lines at H&M. Knock offs, meaning a fake or identical mimics of an original are more serious issue. Corporations such as Ebay have been sued by Dior, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany. Fashion and femininity come hand in hand and one might say that is a perfect remedy for a cat fight.Sources; Evans, Caroline and Minna Thorton. “Fashion, Representation, Femininity”.Feminist Review. 38 (1991): 48-66.
Craik, Jennifer. “Exotic Impulses and Techniques of Fashion.” The Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion New York: Routledge. (1993) 17-43.
Eva Friede. “Flattery of Fakery?” Montreal Gazette 30 Sept. 2008: 2.
SwanDiamondRose, flickr

men’s fashion: from tailored trousers to thug life.

My creative discussion is titled Men’s Fashion: From tailored trousers to thug life. It outlines a recent history of American male dress and suit as well as Hip-hop and thug life as dress and its relation to high fashion.

The 1900s are the earliest years researched in the discussion. The 1920s daytime and nighttime clothes were very formal, tailcoats and top hats were very appropriate. In the 1930s the stock market crash affected the fashion industry in cutbacks on the way clothes were manufactured and purchased. In the 1940s the Zoot Suit was introduced this gave a fantastic foreshadowing to the hip-hop culture that we know today. In the 1960s a more ‘feminine’ look for men became popular, bright florescent colors and puffy sleeves. Jewelry for men was introduced.

The 1970s liberation decade saw more exposed body and tighter clothes.
The 1980s an emergence of couture culture for men. Anna Klein, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gautier were some of the many names pushing the male power suit. The 1990s casual Fridays implemented. Gothic and punk appeared. Men no longer had to conform to one look. Many styles were available and suits came in many varieties. Presently fashion is a combination of all the previous eras, there is a lot of repetition and re vamping of old trends to create this variety of present in men’s wear. Business fashion has not changed however has become newly popularized by such affordable labels as
Sean John.
Hip hop dress like hip -hop music un deniably stems from criminal lifestyles of trying to make a living to escape the “ghetto”. The word ‘bling’ comes from the sound associated with seeing a diamond. It is also associated with shiny objects such as jewelry, cars, and new technological accessories.
From the timeless suit to the very trendy ‘grilz’ (teeth jewelry) men’s fashion has maintained a visual representation of class and status. Hip-hop dress is all about displaying what you have become and what you can afford.

Men’s suits portray a vision of power and etiquette. Now, for the first time we are seeing a combination of these two very different styles through such artists as P. Diddy and his fashion line, Sean John. Representing class and status is evident in all forms of fashion and never before has it reached such a peak. •Men’s fashion is constantly changing and being re invented to suit the time. There is a variety of styles and representation within men’s fashion.

The suit will continue to be staple in Men’s dress and the symbolizations of status, class and wealth will forever be evident in male dress

It is important to acknowledge what certain dress represents; in the case of gangster fashion, representing gang life takes on a lot of social implications that are not positive to promote.

•“a legitimate concern for safety turns into the official harassment of a minority underclass -- or perhaps of poseurs laying claim to that identity -- and it is not always easy to know where one trips into the other” This quotation is from a Maclean’s article on banning of baggy pants in a London school. What are your thoughts on this quotation?

•Music has been very influential to men’s fashion, as we have seen in the Zoot suit and hip hop culture. What other factors (events or cultural sub groups) do you feel influence men’s fashion?
Image credit:mooosh ♥ miso funky flickr