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SUMMARY


19 2015

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, Tasha Lewis and Natalie Gray offer their study The Maturation of Hip-Hop’s Menswear Brands: Outfitting the Ur­ban Consumer. Hip-hop clothing brands emerged in the 1990s in response to a growing acknowledgment amongst its artists that fashion was an im­portant part of the culture. From the 1980s into the 1990s, hip-hop fashion was an adopter of designer brands that represented the aspirational Amer­ican lifestyle of its wearers. With the introduction in the 1990s of cloth­ing brands founded primarily by African-American men involved in the rap music industry, hip-hop clothing began to exert its own influence on American fashion. As the youth that followed hip-hop culture matured, however, their clothing preferences began to change and few brands were able to quickly adapt. The most successful brands are shown to be those that were the earliest entrants into the market and managed to maintain a brand equity that likely associated them with authenticity among con­sumers. One of the most profitable brands was headed by hip-hop music entrepreneur Russell Simmons, who was also interviewed for this article.

Making the Marque: Tangible Branding in Fashion Product and Retail Design byStephen M. Wigley, Karinna Nobbs and Ewa Larsen explores concepts of fashion branding in order to identify six tangible elements of a brand that may be manipulated in order to influence consumer be­havior. These tangible elements are contextualized within the case of the British luxury brand Burberry to show how fashion branding may be influenced by fashion practitioners working in product design, pro­motional, and retailing roles. The critically important role of fashion de­signers and retail architects in contributing to branding is investigated in some detail using in-depth interviews. The article emphasizes the signifi­cance, especially in the contemporary market environment, of creative disciplines such as fashion product and store design in creating brands that are commercially successful.

Wishing on a Star: Promoting and Personifying Designer Collections and Fashion Brands by Anne Peirson-Smith examines two small-scale, contemporary fashion brands in Hong Kong and Beijing. By analyzing the literature and conducting grounded research, it sets out to compare and contrast the ways in which Hong Kong and Beijing position fashion brands in their respective fashion centers as global commodities. The ar­ticle looks at how and why designers compete in the marketplace using a fashion storyline of ‘star’ designer brand strategies imitating large-scale fashion brands by implementing a range of designer-focused promotional approaches. Additionally, it maps the evolution of the fashion industry market in both geographic localities from fashion garment producer to aspi-rational fashion design innovator from the perspective of a small-scale cre­ative industries enterprise, and the branding strategies used to achieve this.

Body section is devoted to Body and Anxiety.

Susan Bordo’s Reading the Slender Body presents an excerpt from her bookUnbearable Weight. Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body (University of California Press, 1993). This study was first published in Mary Jacobus, Evelyn Fox Keller, and Sally Shuttleworth, eds.Body/Poli­tics: Women and the Discourses of Science. NewYork: Routledge, 1989. Lauren Downing Peters presents You Are What You Wear: How Plus-Size Fashion Figures in Fat Identity Formation. The development of the plus-size fashion industry, and indeed the typical wardrobe of the fuller-figure clothes shopper are topics which hitherto have received little attention from researchers in the field of fashion. In this paper, the author examines how such shoppers’ everyday activities aimed at bring­ing their image more in line with social norms, feed into the formation of their self-image and affect how women with a fuller figure perceive themselves. Peters looks at these shoppers’ choice of clothing, at the ways in which they combine items into outfits, their shopping process, as well as the presentation and justification of their personal styles in blogs. The article aims to fill in the important gaps which exist in the literature on this subject. Finally, we discuss the different shades of meaning that are created through the use of the term ‘plus-size’ to denote large clothing sizes and the fuller figure, or to describe a particular person, and the in­terplay of these nuances.

In this issue’s Culture section we look at themes of fashion and trans­gression.

Pornostyle: Sexualized Dress and the Fracturing of Feminism by Pa­mela Church Gibson is premised on the suggestion that there are now two separate Western systems of fashion. The word ‘system’ is not here intended to evoke the model suggested by Roland Barthes, but rather to refer, quite simply, to a pragmatic system of design, manufacture, distribution and dissemination similar to the cultural studies ‘circuit of culture’ model of analysis. A new, unacknowledged ‘system’ of design and promotion has emerged in the last decade, which has its own fash­ion leaders in young female celebrities, its own magazines to chronicle their activities and showcase their style, its own Internet presence, and its own retailing patterns. These young women often resemble in their self-presentation the ‘glamour models’ or pin-up girls of popular men’s magazines, whose ‘look’ is a muted version of the styling associated by many with that of hard-core pornography. The ‘body ideal’ of this alter­native system is very different to that of high fashion; once again, it re­sembles the look of the women pictured in magazines for men. Although one or two writers on fashion have noted this new trend, it is feminist scholars who have shown the most interest; they see the new system as part of the ‘pornification’ of contemporary visual culture. A number of these same scholars are avowed anti-pornography campaigners. The au­thor argues that this could further damage the fragile feminist project, already riven by differences.

William J. F. Keenan offers From Friars to Fornicators: The Erotici-zation of Sacred DressSacred dress modes are an ancient and venerable mode of setting ordinary physical bodies apart for spiritual purposes and divine service. Such consecrated bodies attired in ‘garments of God’ are typically de-eroticized and de-sexualized, the better to focus on the things of the spirit. In recent times, however, the holy spirit of sacred dress has become caught up in the postmodern economy of signs and symbols as consumer culture has shamelessly invaded the clerical wardrobe in pur­suit of its own lay, carnal aims. This lay iconoclasm risks divesting the sacred dress borrowed from the Church of its spiritual aura, bestowing instead an aura of eroticism connected with carnival and sexual play. The present-day vogue for religious clothing fetishes raises questions about the fundamental relationship between religious and lay traditions and their interplay, notably, about the mingling of religious sentiment and sexuality. The desire to transgress, the thrill of pleasure, ecstasy and eroticism fuse as a certain style of dress indicates that the danger­ous line separating the pure from the tainted has been crossed, and that the wearer is able to move freely between the world of innocence and that of sinful experience. Examples of the eroticization of religious ves­ture are illuminated as evidence of the complex ‘sign of contradiction’ sacred dress continues to represent in the late modern consumer mar­ketplace. The author focuses in particular on two aspects of this erotici-zation trend – those connected with carnival and fetish. In recent times we have witnessed something of a fashion for religious vesture as worn outside its traditional setting and for entirely different aims. Naturally, the market has been quick to respond to this trend.

Shaun Cole presents Costume or Dress? The Use of Clothing in the Gay Pornography of Jim French’s Colt Studio. It would seem that one of the intentions of the viewer of gay pornography would be to see the sexual engagement of the participants (and perhaps the ‘money shot’) with a focus upon the gymnastics and writhing of bodies that consti­tute the practice and representation of sexual activity within the film. However, before nudity or nakedness is presented, the ‘characters’ are seen clothed. Using as a focus the films and photography of Colt Stu­dio and of its founder Jim French from the period 1967 – 1981, this arti­cle explores the ways in which the ‘characters’ are constructed through their clothing and costuming. It will address the ways in which these ‘icons’ of masculinity that had developed in the pre-liberation physique magazines and stag films reflected the prototypes, archetypes, and ste­reotypes of post-liberation gay identity and dressed appearance in the fifteen years following the Stonewall riots and gay liberation. Colt Stu­dio was famed for its particular presentation of hypermasculine images and a stable of masculine actors that included Clone superstar Al Parker. This article offers an analysis of the use of particular items of clothing and of the iconic styles of leatherman, motorcycle cop, and gay clone in Colt’s output of this period.

Linor Goralik offers ‘Billionaire’s Fetish’ and Billionaire Fetish: The New Canon in Sentimental Novels and BDSML: Thoughts on ‘Billion­aire’s Fetish’ by Jordan Silver. In this article, Goralik examines the new phenomenon in mass-appeal sentimental women’s novels: a genre she labels BDSML, or BDSM-luxury. The erotic women’s novella and the women’s erotic novel have in recent decades seen a steady rise in popu­larity. These sexualized versions of the women’s romantic novel for the most part still offer readers the same staple narrative involving familiar archetypes and based on the same mytho-poetic principles, borrowed from older sentimental novels. In analyzing Jordan Silver’s Billionaire’s Fetish, Goralik attempts to discern which features of the new genre should be viewed as departures from the older canon of the women’s sentimental novel, and which should rather be seen as strengthening and further developing this canon through corroborating its inherent laws and regulations. The BDSML novel, Goralik suggests, offers read­ers the double pleasures of double fantasies – those of love and sex. All the while, the reader’s own morals and views on norms of social behav­iour will remain unchallenged, as the BDSML novel represents a type of conservative literature, where sexual practice serves only to reinforce the value of a typical stock scenario.

In the Science of Fashion column, Amanda Bill offers Blood, Sweat and Shears: Happiness, Creativity, and Fashion Education. Since the late 1990s, ideas about creativity and the creative economy have become in­creasingly important in education and economic development discourse. On the one hand, creative practice is said to enhance individual, social, and economic wellbeing; on the other, critics have labeled creative work­ers as a new ‘precariat’. This article explores how happiness might coexist with the risky, precarious employment common in creative enterprises such as fashion. It draws on interviews with fashion design students to examine creativity as a mode of regulation, as a fantasmatic logic, and as an embodied performance. The article shows how fashion design edu­cation in New Zealand effectively binds students to creativity, arguing that as ‘creative girls’, they become highly productive performers in the cultural economy.

In this issue’s Museum Business column, Ksenia Borderiu’s pa­per Behind the Scenes in a House of Very Special Fashion visits the Na­tional Center of Costume and Scenography in Moulins, France.

In the Events section, Anna Zhabreva offers A Long-Awaited Ball at the Hermitage,a review of the exhibition ‘At the Court of the Russian Emperors. Costumes of the 18th– Early 20th Centuries in the Hermitage Collection’ at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (17 May – 19 October 2014).

Annamari Vänskä presents From Gay to Queer - Or, Wasn’t Fash­ion Always Already a Very Queer Thing? This fascinating review takes in ‘A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk’ at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York (13 Septem­ber 2013 – 4 January 2014), ‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’ organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Jean Paul Gaultier himself at the Brooklyn Museum (25 October 2013 – 23 February 2014).

Irina Sirotkina visits ‘Mayakovsky Haute Couture: The Art of Dress­ing’ at the Vladimir Mayakovsky State Museum (10 July – 9 November 2014) and shares her impressions in What Colour Was Mayakovsky’s Yellow Cardigan?

In the Books section, Liuba Popova contributes Cretins Cannot Be Elegant: her take on I Cretini Non Sono Mai Eleganti: Giorgio Armani in Parole Sue. A cura di P. Pollo. Rizzoli Etas, 2014. 257 pp.

Yana Melkumova-Reynolds reviews Exhibiting Fashion: Before and after 1971, Judith Clark and Amy de la Haye with Jeffrey Horsley (2014). Yale: Yale University Press, 252 pp.

Toby Slade offers Overdressed: his review of Overdressed: Barthes, Darwin and the Clothes That Speak by Michael Carter. Puncher & Watt-man, 2013.

In Hair, There and Everywhere, Ksenia Borderiu takes a look at Carol Rifelj’sCoiffures: Hair in Nineteenth-Century French Literature and Cul­ture. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2010. 298 pp.

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell offers The Beau Monde, taking a peek at The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London by Hannah Greig. Oxford University Press, 2013.