Dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of fashion from an academic perspective, the quarterly journal Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture views fashion as a cultural phenomenon, offering the reader a wide range of articles by leading Western and Russian specialists, as well as classical texts on fashion theory. From the history of dress and design to body practices; from the work of well-known designers to issues around consumption in fashion; from beauty and the fashionable figure through the ages to fashion journalism, fashion and PR, fashion and city life, art and fashion, fashion and photography — Fashion Theory covers it all.
In this issue's Dress section, we return once more to take a closer look at constructing masculinity.
Alistair O'Neill's John Stephen: A Carnaby Street Presentation of Masculinity 1957-1975 is concerned with the relationship between Carnaby Street, a London street transformed into a shopping destination of landmark status, and John Stephen, the entrepreneur credited with changing not only the street but also the entire notion of menswear. Drawing upon the recently acquired John Stephen archive at the Archive of Art and Design (Victoria and Albert Museum), the author aims to clarify the distinctions between retailer, consumer and retail area, extrapolating them from a moment of social history that remains heavily mythologized. O'Neill proposes that shops and shopping areas can be held responsible for the creation of new masculine style positions, and that these identities are strongly bound to a popular understanding of these spaces, even to the point of disadvantage.
Masafumi Monden offers The Importance of Looking Pleasant: Reading Japanese Men's Fashion Magazines. Readers unfamiliar with contemporary Japanese media might be puzzled by the appearance of men in the country's fashion magazines. This is particularly the case for images of Japanese young men, whose strong concerns over their appearance and slender physicality seem to enhance their (hetero) sexual desirability. These publications suggest to their male readers that crafting fashionable looks through selection of the right clothes, cosmetics, fragrances, and maintaining a balanced diet is necessary for self-assurance and a successful life. This article shows that a rich study of subjectivity and aesthetics might be found in these Japanese men's publications. Male aesthetic sensitivities at a cultural level and notions of "the self" might be understood in different terms than they are in many Euro-American cultures. Likewise, the male aesthetics favoured by some contemporary Japanese youths might imply an attempt to reject the more established, dowdy mode of "salaryman" masculinity. The author argues that Japanese young men's almost narcissistic concerns about appearance and fashion might offer a different, more "relaxed" approach to understanding men's relationship with fashion.
Nick Rees-Roberts's Boys Keep Swinging: The Fashion Iconography of Hedi Slimanesituates Hedi Slimane's designs within the history of popular culture and the visual arts through a contextual focus on his cultural references and influences (notably David Bowie's "Berlin" and the British rock music scene), alongside coverage of his recent photographic work on American youth cultures. The arrival of Hedi Slimane at Christian Dior in 2000 marked an epoch change in men's style. Slimane's reputation is founded on having streamlined and rejuvenated the male silhouette through the promotion of a skinny style appropriated from youth subcultures. Slimane's rebranding of the Dior menswear line (from the fusty Christian Dior Monsieur to the hip Dior Homme) adapted a range of urban street styles to suit the in-house tradition of classicism and bourgeois elegance. This article sets out to assess the designer's conscious reworking of masculinity, replacing virile men with skinny boys, perceived as the clearest paradigm shift in male fashion imagery since Armani, as well as tracking Slimane's impact on the landscape of contemporary fashion.
The Body section this time around looks at the figure of the femme fatale.
Valerie Steele presents Femme Fatale: Fashion and Visual Culture in Fin-de-Siecle Paris. There have been a number of museum exhibitions devoted to Paris fashions of the later nineteenth century, most notably Diana Vreeland's "La Belle Epoque" (1982) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Steele later organized her own exhibition on the subject and attempted to demonstrate that fashion was an integral part of the social, intellectual and aesthetic ferment of the fin de siecle. This article is based on the exhibition didactics for the FIT exhibition, "Femme Fatale: Fashion and Visual Culture in Fin-de-Siecle Paris" (2002-2003). Steele argues that the development of la mode, both as a commodity and an art form, appeared to be closely related to the emergence of aesthetic modernite. The fashionable Parisienne was herself an icon of modernity and evoked powerful emotions. Steele's interpretation of the fashions of the later nineteenth century is closely related to her understanding of the fin-de-siecle discourse on women and femininity. The author concludes that radical changes were occurring in women's fashion throughout the fin de siecle as the result of developments within the Parisian fashion system. Yet the image of the femme fatale became completely demode after World War I, and fashions were associated with the rise of la femme moderne.
In The Cult of the Body: Bakst and Opera Divas, art historian and Bakst expert Elena Bespalova looks at the artist's work with opera. Achieving world renown through his involvement with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, throughout his career Leon Bakst was also extremely active as an opera designer. Among many others, Bakst designed costumes for Maria Kuznetsova (1880-1966), soprano soloist for the Mariinsky Theatre, Paris Opera, Covent Garden and Monte Carlo Opera, and for Flore Revalles (1889-1966), soloist at the Geneva Grand Theatre. The author analyzes in detail Bakst's work on several productions, which she views as yet one example of the artist's devotion to the cult of beauty and to the new movement in art.
In Desire and Dread: Alexander McQueen and the Contemporary Femme Fatale, Caroline Evans analyses sex, death and the commercial in the work of the late Alexander McQueen. In his very first collection, McQueen made use of images of Jack the Ripper and Victorian prostitutes, who sold their hair to be made into romantic gifts. McQueen's second collection, aptly named the "Theatre of Cruelty", was indeed an investigation of the dark side of human nature. McQueen's harsh, destructive portrayal of women led to the emergence of his own particular interpretation of the image of the late twentieth-century femme fatale. Unlike women of the Decadence, McQueen's females were not objects of fear; rather, fearful subjects. Their massively sexualized appearance was a means of defence, turning subtly into attack. Looking at the origins of McQueen's aesthetic, Evans turns to the ever-relevant Marquis de Sade. Sade's modernity is down to his nihilism, as well as to his sense of the connection between sex and politics. The universe portrayed by both Sade and McQueen is a tragic one, one in which "sexuality becomes the ruination of harmonious, 'centred' love. There has arisen in the modern period a literature of a sexuality that is not about love, happiness or dutybut about trauma, otherness and unspeakable truth" (Rajchman, 1986, p. 47). Such literature is not new: after Sade, the now two-hundred-year- old tradition was continued by Baudelaire, Genet and Bataille. What is novel is the expression of such ideas in the work of a fashion designer — for the first time, perhaps, since the emergence of this literature in the late eighteenth century.
Linor Goralik offers A "Queen's" Old Dress: How Girl Leaders Dressed in the Late Soviet Period. The everyday world of teenagers in the late Soviet period indubitably merits far greater attention than is usually accorded to it by contemporary researchers. Careful study of that period could, for instance, bring about better understanding of the mechanisms through which today's "leading" generation of Russians, those born in the 1970s, selects and maintains its own leaders. For this research, the author interviewed 300 respondents, who were asked about so-called "queens of the class" and other girls seen as natural leaders among their teenage peers at that time. A closer look at the clothes worn by these girls can serve two aims. Firstly, it allows us to see how people of that generation reconstruct their formative years with the aid of post-Soviet narrative instruments. Secondly, and far more importantly, it allows us to recreate certain elements of late Soviet teenage material culture. Far more meager than that of the Soviet child or adult, this culture is consequently also far more fragile. This official scantiness of the material world of the Soviet teenager was compounded by the actual shortage of material goods just before and during Perestroika. Thus, in order to reflect, stress and occasionally to model leadership qualities, teenagers — girls in particular — had to possess special skills, or unique access to clothing, or personal qualities that would somehow make their dress stand out against the backdrop of identical outfits. The role of women's dress in women's official and unofficial leadership in the late Soviet years has been addressed by researchers in a variety of contexts, yet, as far as Goralik could ascertain, it has never been studied in its own right. Due to the particular nature of teen interaction, in this milieu the already high significance of late Soviet dress became so poignant that it could provoke violent competition for popularity among teenage "leaders". At the same time their dress was a prism, magnifying the most significant elements in the spectrum of late Soviet female leadership roles, from the strictly formal to the informal and even radical. In late Soviet years, adult women became accustomed to wending their way between contradictory value systems, choosing their outfits so as to remain within the realm of the permitted, even when they desired to stand out. Teenage girls, on the other hand, for whom dress — and attitudes towards dress — were important elements in constructing their subjective reality, would often deliberately or unknowingly flaunt the norms. The poignancy and tragedy of the situation were exacerbated by the school uniforms and highly restrictive, even coercive teacher-pupil relations in Soviet schools. Of particular note in respondents' answers were their attempts to separate the personal qualities of girl "leaders" from the image conveyed by them through dress: a special or, on the contrary, an extremely ordinary look; self-assurance; good taste; talent; charisma. Losing its Socialist values, the late Soviet world gradually spawned more diverse models of female leadership. The new models of behaviour, which included, for instance, relatively free sexual habits — within Soviet limits — demanded a revision of dress and of the language of costume, which was especially obvious among teenagers. Girl "leaders" would often assume the role of the Other, trying out, mastering and allowing peers to evaluate new roles and corresponding outfits. The standard debate about what qualities make a leader Different to the rest of the community becomes not so standard in the context of the late Soviet teen community. The coercively equalizing environment in Soviet schools and in many Soviet families effectively shrank the space, in which charismatic leaders could display their uniqueness without becoming outsiders. The article looks at the means employed by girl "leaders" to stress their uniqueness, while avoiding direct conflict with adults. These ranged from the purely practical, such as making or altering clothes with or without adult help, or wearing unorthodox accessories, to the social, such as defending their rights or taking advantage of loopholes in the school dress code. Respondents' impressions of late Soviet school "queens" differ hugely from the stereotypical memories of their American peers. The reasons for such differences between models of teenage girl leadership perhaps deserve special attention elsewhere. In describing "trendy" girls as "queens" or "the coolest", respondents did not often appear to analyze the situation fully. Did the high economic status of a girl's family give her the self-assurance and bravado necessary to assume a leadership role, or was it that girls with inherent leadership qualities were able to look better, "working" their outfits to maximum advantage? This question is also relevant to the analysis of Soviet fashion in general, and of late Soviet trends in particular. The latter possibility is perhaps of particular interest, as many respondents recalled school "queens" whose dress was perfectly ordinary, yet somehow, on them, looked different. Many also noted that "cool" clothes did little to make ordinary, unattractive girls look special.
In this issue Culture section we also continue our exploration of olfactory experience. Ekaterina Zhiritskaya presents Smells of the Kolyma - an extract from the chapter 'Kolyma: Sensory Experience from Beyond the Boundaries' from her book Smells of the Homeland, currently awaiting publication. Perhaps the reason why people are so bad at learning from history is that it usually appeals to our minds, not to our senses. It is impossible for us today to truly comprehend the experience of the Kolyma, just as it is impossible for the living fully to understand death. It is not possible to convey such experience in words. Perhaps, however, one can, to some extent at least, convey it through smell? Varlam Shala- mov's Kolyma Tales convey the camps as experienced by the human body, through the body, written on the body. Shalamov's onslaught on totalitarianism as absolute power is presented through the distortions wrought on human flesh in this force field. Recreating as far as possible the olfactory landscape of the Kolyma, analyzing the experience and interpretation of smell in camp subcultures, the author develops her previously expressed theory concerning the repressive potential of smell.
Aliona Andreyeva in her paper Perfumery naming or complete collapse of marketing. An attempt of content analysis of names in the market of selective perfumery based on time and artistery provides the original segmentation in a matrix form for selective perfumery: Name of the Perfumer, Classical Retro Style, Couture Brands and Fun Brands. The major question of the research whether the modern principles of marketing are applicable to a naming in the market of selective perfumery has got the negative answer.
Classical marketing naming principals such as simplicity, meaningfulness, easiness to remember, easiness to pronunciation, positive emotions and associations, symbolism, clear mental image and links with product characteristics and product category, brand positioning and compatibility with other product names are rarely used in naming of selective perfumery. The perfumery names analysis shows that more often the names are dependent on long perfumery tradition of past centuries (flower and place names as well as proper names of creators.
The content analysis of 1136 names of 47 world distributed selective perfumery producers shows that most of selective perfumery are named after Flora (39 per cents), Place names and toponyms (14 per cents), People and proper names (11 per cents) and other smaller categories which include Perfumery ingredients, Numbers, Natural phenomena such as water, wind, stars etc., Time of day and seasons, Food & Drinks, Colors, Arts, Emotions and Feelings, Love and Romance, Fashion, Jewelry, Supernatural, Fauna, Games, Synthetics, Objects, Cosmetics, Transportation, Social Events and Others.
The major trends in naming of selective perfumery can be described as following: simplicity and absence of legal protection due to the long historical tradition, building the linguistic barriers to avoid unwanted consumers, active use of allusions, references and hidden quotes which are appealed to consumer with intellectual capital, complex and complicated associations.
In the Museum Business column, Patricia Mears offers Exhibiting Asia: The Global Impact of Japanese Fashion in Museums and Galleries. Japanese fashion creators began to present their revolutionary concepts on the runways of Paris in the early 1970s; their designs had a profound impact and did much to change the direction of avant-garde fashion. The presentation of Japanese fashion in museum and gallery exhibitions over the past thirty years has also been influential. Exhibitions organized by leading Japanese institutions such as the Kyoto Costume Institute, contributed to the existing historical understanding of this Asian country's impact on Western art and design. Other exhibitions advanced the technical possibilities of presenting fashion in a static environment. Curators around the world regularly incorporate Japanese fashion in inter-disciplinary exhibitions that juxtapose or align fashion with other design disciplines such as architecture, industrial design, textiles and even fine art.
In the Practice of Fashion column, we present an interview with designer Irina Shaposhnikova, who talks to us about her experience studying at the London College of Fashion and at Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Shaposhnikova shares what it means for her to be a designer, and why she chose to return to Russia.
In the Books section, Alexander Markov offers Bodies of the Imagination in the Light of Study — a review of Susan B. Kaiser's Fashion and Cultural Studies (London; N.Y.: Berg, 2012. 228 pp.).
Do It Yourself, Indonesian Style is Vera Yudintseva's take on Brent Luvaas's DIY Style. Fashion, Music and Global Digital Cultures (London; N.Y.: Berg, 2012).
Liuba Popova contributes Glorious Knitwear — her thoughts on MAGLIFICO! 50 Anni di Straordinaria Maglieria Made in Italy (Milano: Skira Editore, 2013. 238 pp.).
In the Events section, Elena Igumnova presents Beauties and Beasts — a review of "Soviet Design 1950s-1980s" at Moscow's Manezh Central Exhibition Hall, 29 November 2012 — 20 January 2013.
The Doll's House is Ksenia Shcherbino's review of "Valentino: Master of Couture" at London's Somerset House, 29 November 2012 — 3 March 2013.
Nadezhda Musiankova visited "Decorating the Beautiful. Elitism and Kitsch in Contemporary Art" at Moscow's State Tretyakov Gallery, Krymsky Val (19 December 2012 — 3 March 2013) and offers her review The Elixir of Eternal Beauty.
Tatiana Karateeva presents The Return of Bakst — her impressions of "Lev Bakst. Discovering the Material" at Moscow's Our Artists gallery (25 January — 15 April 2013).
Andrei Zavadsky's The Right to Beauty reviews "Beauty in the 21st Century. Dream Women/Dream Men", an event of the "Fashion and Style in Photography 2013" 18* International Moscow Biennale at Moscow's Manezh Central Exhibition Hall (7 March — 3 April 2013).
In Dior, More Dior! Elena Igumnova offers her thoughts on "Dior Couture. Patrick Demarchelier", an event from "Fashion and Style in Photography 2013" at Moscow's Manezh Central Exhibition Hall (7 March — 3 April 2013).
Jana Melkumova-Reynolds presents From Mannequin to Demiurge — a review of the "Mannequin — Le Corps de la Mode" exhibition at the Paris Cite de la Mode et du Design (Les Docks), 16 February — 19 May 2013.
Olga Deryugina's Glossies in Reverse: Luxury vs. Babushkas reviews exhibitions from "Fashion and Style in Photography 2013" at Moscow's Multimedia Art Museum and Museum of Modern Art, 20 February — 5 April 2013.
The Gardens of Tatyana Parfenova is Raisa Kirsanova's review of the "In a Single Breath: Tatyana Parfenova" exhibition at Moscow's Tsaritsyno State Museum Reserve, 20 February — 5 May 2013.
Margarita Albedil's Dolls' Ethnography looks at the "Costumes and Customs: Dolls in National Dress from the Private Collection of Anna Zhabreva" exhibition in the Oriental Department of the Gorky Science Library at St. Petersburg State University, 21 February — 27 April 2013.