Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Opposition to Fashion

Opposition to fashion can take many forms. Above the Big Lebowski bathrobe is a simple disinterest in adornment or to unite or separate. Other types of opposition include opposition to Western aesthetics that dominate the fashion industry, opposition to the forms of fashion as fixed, and oppositions to the rules of the fashion industry evident in counterfeiting.

Speak to the children of Israel and say to them they should make themselves tzitzit on the corners of their clothing throughout their generations, and give the tzitzit of each corner a thread of blue. And they shall be tzitzit for you, and when you look at them you will remember all of the Lord's commandments and do them and not follow after your heart and after your eyes which lead you astray. Numbers 15

The above Jewish text is a call for believers to distinguish themselves from others through clothing. This is part of what we have learned about fashion as adornment and a tool to unite and separate groups. The meaningful adornment is also aligned with a set of modesty codes that oppose Western fashion as indicated in the sign below.

The three faiths of the God of Abraham - Judaism, Islam and Christianity - aim to oppose the Western fashion aesthetics and be separate but they are united by the same full coverage modest look for women.

Designers can take the aesthetics of opposition and integrate them into fashion as seen above in Hussein Chalayan, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Rick Owens.

Below the fashion company Moschino uses opposition as its ad campaign.

Fashion writer Fred Davis wrote a text called "Anti-Fashion" which identified 5 types of oppositional strategies. Below "utilitarian outrage" in the Russian constructivist designs and Gap, is an emphasis on basic forms without constant modifications.

Above "naturalism," and below "feminism" have opposed confining specific forms for day wear and women.

Above "conservative skepticism" and below "minority and faith groups" demonstrate resistance to mass culture and fashion as a power system.

"The Islamic factor" in fashion is a combination of opposition to Western aesthetics and an embrace of fashion luxury goods. The government monitors fashion media as seen below left, in which pages are either removed from magazines or images are blacked out. The women still seek the goods either through accessories or under the hijab.

Below the luxury department store Villa Moda in Kuwait emphasizes Western luxury labels.

Above, women in the gulf have taken luxury scarves as a sign of their wealth. Some argue their oppositional aesthetic has a power to influence the West as in the Hermes look from 2011 above. Men have remained more resistant to clothing and maintain their aesthetic opposed to the suit. However fashion brands have worked their way into automobiles. Below both Gucci and Versace create custom goods just for the Arab market.

Above an Arab fashion show and the new jihad women's magazine. Below left Vogue Paris featured an Arab friendly editorial in 2010 and right Princess Hijab who is modifying Western ads in Paris.

A more formal opposition to fashion in design is called deconstruction. This is an effort by designers to destroy and then re-assemble fashion forms in new way, intending to break existing associations and meanings. Below Maison Martin Margiela.

Deconstruction is a philosophical principle from Jacques Derrida in the 1980's which means to break through structures of meaning. We engage in language for example through a set of rules. Above left tennis requires the ball within parameters to win, but deconstruction frees meaning from structure toward something like the freedom of a beach ball. Below the ads by HSBC reveal society has been undergoing a deconstruction of formal meaning in fashion.

Above Bernard Wilhelm's casual tuxedo breaks our conventional separations of formal and causal. Below Martin Margiela's combination of forms break our normal associations.

Above the Antwerp 6 designers deconstructed every aspect of fashion from their advertisements of shows, to the presentation of clothing, using masks and unveiling backstage.

Above France sees counterfeiting as a crime for the producer and consumer. Below counterfeiting is seen as an opposition to the value of fashion goods and the power structures that keep fashion going as a business.

Below counterfeiting is also oppositional to many ethics as it is tied to worker oppression and child exploitation. Below a campaign by UNICEF to expose the crimes.

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