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

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