Dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of fashion from an academic perspective, the quarterly journal Fashion Theory: Dress, Body and 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.
This issue's Dress section looks at the theme of fashion and age. It opens with Ksenia Khomiakova's article Fashion and Age in the Time of Catherine the Great. In her 34 years as monarch, Catherine the Great influenced and, indeed, formed the fashion tastes of several generations through personal example. She was the Empress remembered for developing her own style. Indeed, the individuation of style was one of the main developments in Russian fashions of the time. Dress began to be influenced not only by vogue, but also by individual taste and preference. The changes in European fashions of the time — which Russia followed, and occasionally set — can perhaps best be summarized by the notion of diversification. Contemporary male dress moved away from exaggerated form, bright colours and abundant decorative details, thus becoming even more different from women's costume. Meanwhile, female dress became more diverse, to suit different purposes: special clothes appeared for travel, reading, everyday pursuits and festive occasions. Children's fashions emerged, leaving elderly ladies as the only group without its own distinctive costume. Was this because of the assumption that, while following fashion, one could not grow old? This theory first emerged — and was first questioned — during the Enlightenment.
Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Ardis Storm-Mathisen's Reading Fashion as Age: Teenage Girls' and Grown Women's Accounts of Clothing as Body and Social Status discusses the differences and similarities between the ways in which women at two stages of life see the connections between age and fashion. The article is based on an oral survey, conducted in Norway in the late 1990s. In the study, teenage girls and adult women were asked a series of questions on their clothing habits and preferences. Based on their responses, the authors look at what constitutes going against the norm in dress. When an outfit is chosen in accordance with generally accepted rules and norms, it seldom attracts much attention. If, however, the wearer disregards the common norms, he or she is likely to provoke a strong reaction. In comparing the views of women from similar social groups, but of different age, the authors were able to show the importance of age in women's acceptance, or setting, of rules governing what to wear, and which trends to follow.
How Does Vogue Negotiate Age?: Fashion, the Body, and the Older Woman by Julia Twigg addresses the role played by clothing and fashion in the constitution of age, exploring the changing ways in which aging is experienced, understood, and imagined in modern culture through an analysis of the responses of UK Vogue. As a high fashion journal, Vogue focuses on youth; age and aging represent a disruption of its cultural field. How it negotiates this issue is relevant to both students of fashion and of age. Older women in Vogue only feature sporadically, and predominantly in ways that dilute or efface their age. The current ideal is one of „Ageless Style" and cultural integration. But this has not always been the case. In the 1950s, UK Vogue regularly featured a distinctly older woman in the form of the fictional Mrs Exeter. No such figure appears — or could appear — today, and this article explores the reasons behind this, in the changing social and cultural location of older people in contemporary consumption culture.
The Body section this time around is devoted to hands, and their decoration in culture. Susan Vincent's Fits Like a Glove: A History of Gloves from 1900 until the Present Day traces the evolution of sartorial practice, that saw gloves move from being an indispensible part of public dress to becoming the easily discarded winter accessory of today. The commonly told story is one of decline and diminution. Looking more closely, however, reveals the remarkable longevity of the glove, including the way that in certain contexts we understand this garment in precisely the same way as did the Victorians. Despite this tenacity, over the course of the twentieth century glove practice did of course change, and key aspects of this evolution include: the carrying of gloves as a precursor to their abandonment; the democratisation of their wear; the increasing participation of gloves within fashion; and, grounding us securely in today, a shift in their protective function from the social self to the physical.
Galina Gabriel's On the History of Hand Adornment examines the history of ornaments for hands from the Paleolithic era through to the mid-twentieth century, looking at the functions of jewelry for hands, and at the symbolic meaning behind these elegant items which, at first glance, seem designed purely for decoration. Hand decoration, indeed, is one of the most ancient forms of body adornment. The hands — which played a crucial part in obtaining food and defending the family and kin — required protection. Their strength and agility had to be preserved and increased through the wearing of amulets: the very form of such ornaments implies their protective role. Hands could also make threatening or commanding gestures, rendered even more powerful and expressive by the wearing of rings. Hand ornaments could speak volumes about the wearer's gender, social and economic status, and religious views. Finally, such trinkets could seduce: after all, the word jewel derives from the Latin iocus, implying a joke, jest, play. Every era and culture possessed its own favourite decorations, its chosen precious materials, styles and ideas about the meanings behind hand adornment.
This issue's Culture section looks at the cultural significance of death and sartorial tradition.
Margarita Albedil's 'Death and Birth — the Full Cycle of Life': Ritual Symbolism of the Body examines body symbolism in the funeral rites of traditional ethnic cultures. Rooted in ancient mythology, these rituals were based on the age-old idea of the inseverable unity of man and nature. In the course of the funeral, the body of the deceased is symbolically constructed as the main participant of the ritual, taking on new qualities, and as the rite's main instrument. The notion of death as creator set a paradigm for natal and marital rites. The symbolic actions performed upon the body of the deceased were a symmetrical reflection of the rituals surrounding birth, while the nuptial ceremony was a metonymic substitute for death.
Michail Maizuls contributes Mask without a Face: The Personification of Death in the Middle Ages. Prior to Western art's acceptance of the skeleton or dead body as universal symbols of decay, medieval artists went through a series of experiments in their attempts to portray Death. Since the Christian worldview did not perceive Death as a particular creature, painters had to decide what kind of being to depict, and how to construct its appearance. The 'iconography' of Death cannot yield a single constant image: demise was portrayed in a multitude of extremely diverse ways. If, at times, Death wore a male or female human face, at other times it appeared as a corpse, or as a demon. Some representations gave the Grim Reaper wings, thus ranking Death among the Angels, albeit fallen ones — or perhaps simply marking it as a supernatural force. These diverse images would blend into one another, creating strange and fantastic combinations. The diversity of images of Death reflects its diverse functions, which also overlap and flow into one other.
Irina Mikhailova offers 'Awaiting the Saviour's Righteous Judgment': The Eschatological Views and Reforms of Ivan the Terrible. Sixteenth-century Russians spent a lot of time thinking about death. The reasons were many: long-drawn-out wars which brought huge losses; the worsening of the economic situation in the 1530s and 1540s; rising taxation; falling standards of living; the boyar groups' struggle for power, with rivals ordering each other's secret killings, mass reprisals and executions of those who had fallen from favour. At that time, Russia was ruled by Ivan the Terrible - an impressionable and highly strung man raised by religious fanatics. Growing up in a complex and dangerous setting of intrigue, plots and palace coups, from a young age the Tsar believed that he was to witness the world's end, and that he would have to answer before God not only for his own consciously and unconsciously committed sins, but also for the sins of his subjects, committed due to his own carelessness. Ivan the Terrible's eschatological views were, alongside several other factors, instrumental in shaping his reforms, which were aimed at turning Muscovy into the last kingdom on earth — a New Israel, and at preparing the Russian people, chosen by the Almighty, for a simultaneous transition to the next world.
Alexander Liarsky's Suicide in Fashion explores the notion of a „fashion for suicide". The author looks at popular and expert opinion on the subject from the point of view of heuristic value, and as a specific historical study of suicide. Liarsky outlines the features which would allow a suicide's behavior to be classed as 'fashionable'. Focusing on several late nineteenth — early twentieth century student suicides in Russia, the author shows that the usefulness of bringing the notion of fashion into the study of suicide is directly proportional to the care, taken in applying this term. Whilst Liarsky rejects fashion as the framework for the study of suicide throughout history, he admits that the notion is useful in defining social boundaries, establishing complex links and clarifying the relationships between generations in this area.
Natalia Lebina's paper is entitled The Ritual of the Red Fire Funeral: On the Sociocultural Context of the First Soviet Crematorium. The ethical significance and interpretation of fire symbolism, and the conceptualization of death in early Soviet culture are currently popular topics for debate. These issues are usually examined within the context of the Bolsheviks' rejection and ridiculing of Christianity - particularly of the Orthodox tradition. This is the standpoint from which the opening of Russia's first crematorium in Petrograd in 1919-1921 — a well- known fact today — is usually examined. The course of historic events confirms the militant atheism of all the Soviet authorities' actions in building this facility. At the same time, one should not forget that, for those who planned and implemented this project, the creation of the crematorium was also an expression of the socio-cultural position of 'Homo Industrialist
Yulia Demidenko's Death Becomes Them and The Breakdown of Mourning Traditions: Mourning Dress From 1910, a chapter from British dress historian Lou Taylor's Mourning Dress, a Costume and Social History (London, 1983) take us back to costume, and mourning traditions in dress. Demidenko's article opens with a look at the difficulties of studying dress connected with death: the author notes the sparsity of special material on the subject. Looking at the costume of different eras from Antiquity until the present day, the author attempts to classify funeral and mourning dress, examining the outfits worn by the participants in the ceremonies, as well as by the friends and families of the deceased. If early dress history, which encompasses primitive societies and ancient civilisations, is mainly based on the funeral costumes discovered by archeologists, later history essentially reveals some deep differences between everyday and funeral dress. The functions of funeral dress in different times, and with different peoples were quite diverse. Items could act as amulets, or be used to help preserve the body, or represent the deceased; sometimes, they acted as donations to honour the departed. Medieval funerals of high-ranking figures also featured special 'farewell' dress. The author traces the history of mourning dress from Antiquity to the nineteenth century, when European cultures accepted a single mourning dress code, which has served as the foundation for today's funeral industry. Demidenko also looks at the importance of colour in funeral and mourning dress, examining how black gradually prevailed over other hues, and was finally accepted as the colour of mourning in European culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The author explores the different degrees of official grief such as full mourning and half-mourning, as well as the emergence of paradoxical trends, such as fashion for mourning, and even mourning luxury.
In the Practice of Fashion column, Elena Tutatchikova contributes What the Japanese Fashion Industry Is Based on, or A Fashion Education in Japan. The author reviews contemporary design schools, courses and curriculums, presenting feedback from several graduates.
The Online Fashion column offers Agnes Rocamora and Djurdja Bartlett's Fashion Blogs: New Spaces for Debate on Fashion. A relatively new form of digital communication in fashion, a huge number of independent blogs on style exist today. Their contributors and editors use an informal tone to discuss ordinary life, thus strengthening the image of fashion as an everyday, albeit creative, practice. In offering individuals a chance to express themselves, fashion blogs enable fashion to return to its roots, allowing people to take pleasure in everyday life, to take part in creating fashion. Blogs offer a new way of obtaining information on style, which is both instant and interactive. This medium also serves to strengthen and link virtual fashion communities. All this is thanks not only to fashion itself, but also to the Internet, the two constituting important areas of interaction and socialization.
In the Books section, in A Portrait of Identity in the Interior, Ksenia Gusarova reviews Fashion, Interior Design and the Contours of Modern Identity, ed. A.Myzelev and J.Potvin. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010. 250 pp, ill.
Alexander Markov's Identity and the Brazilian Carnival is a review of Bodies, Pleasures, And Passions: Sexual Culture in Contemporary Brazil by Richard G. Parker. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009. 232 pp.
From Leopard Skin to Party Symbolism by Maria Khachaturian takes a look at John Gillow's Textiles Africains. Couleur et Creativite a l'Echelle d'un Continent. Editions du Regard, 2009. 240 pp.
Polovtsian Dances in the Champs Elysees, According to an American Music Expert by Ksenia Khomiakova offers an insight into Mary E. Davis's Ballets Russes Style: Diaghilev's Dancers and Paris Fashion, published by Reaktion Books, 2010. 256 pp.
Maria Vagina's A Globe in Jeans looks at Global Denim. Ed. Miller D., Woodward S. Oxford, New York: Berg, 2010.
Twelve Layers of Aesthetics and Economics by Ksenia Shcherbino reviews Toby Slade's Japanese Fashion: A Cultural History. Berg, 2009.
In the Events section, Elena Igumnova presents Leningrad Fashions of the 1960s and 1970s: her impressions of the „Fashion and Style in Photography-2011" Moscow international festival at the Zurab Tsereteli Gallery, Moscow, 31 March - 10 May 2011.
In Art for All, Alexei Mokrousov reviews „Art pour Tous", held at the Musee de l'Imprimerie de Lyon between 15 October 2010 and 13 February 2011.
Elena Igumnova visited „Twenty Costumes for Russia. Spanish Designers — A Dialogue with Literature" at the All-Russian Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art in Moscow, running from 28 March until 10 May 2011, and 'The Dream Weavers' — an exhibition of costumes of the Cirque du Soleil at the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, Moscow (23 March - 22 May 2011). Land of the Imagination describes her impressions.
Anna Zhabreva's The Return of the Bustle looks at 'The Architecture of Dress: Corsets, Crinolines and Bustles' at the Peter and Paul fortress, St. Petersburg State History Museum, 11 March — 10 April 2011.
In Where are the Lolitas? Liuba Popova looks at the Fall-Winter 20112012 pret-a-porter fashions and asks, why all the models — male and female — have suddenly got older.
Pamela Smith visits 'The Cult of Beauty: the Aesthetic Movement 1860 - 1900' at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2 April - 17 July 2011.
In Fashion as Business: The Rules of the Game, Lydia Hesed discusses the educational program „Practicum: British Fashion" at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, 1 - 2 April 2011.
Ekaterina Kim shares her impressions from the first Orthodox fashion show, held in April in Moscow's Aesthete jewelry house.
Yulia Demidenko offers The World for Maria: a review of „Marimekko — A Whole Life. 60 Years of Colours, Stripes and Shapes" at the Design Museum, Helsinki (18 March - 29 May 2011).
In Yamamoto from Y to O Laura McLaws Helms shares her impressions of 'Yohji Yamamoto' at Victoria and Albert Museum (12 March - 10 July 2011).
Dressing the Rose shares Ksenia Shcherbino's impressions of 'Robert Capucci: Art into Fashion' at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (16 March - 5 June 2011).