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 take a closer look at trousers. Christine Bard's The Cautious Coming of Trousers (1914-1960) is a chapter from the French historian's book A Political History of Trousers. Examining how ladies' trousers became more widespread, Bard looks at the political and social consequences of this trend in Europe, primarily in France. In this chapter, the author describes how trousers became part of women's military uniforms and work clothes during the First World War, giving ladies a more masculine look. Bard then turns to the era of emancipation, when trousers became an important element in the gamine's wardrobe and began to make enemies such as the Catholic Church. Moving on to the 1930s, the author looks at the feminization of fashion, and the newfound appeal of ladies' trousers in sport. Turning to the Second World War, Bard examines the popularity of trousers during that time, presenting overall conclusions regarding the entire period. She rounds off with an overview of the conditions which enabled ladies' trousers to permeate all walks of life, leading to the proliferation of items from shorts to cycle pants, and from golf trousers to jeans.
In Looking into the Future — The Fashion Forecasting World, Ingrid Giertz-Martenson takes a trip to this fascinating part of the modern fashion universe. Within the fashion system there are many different agents — designers, manufacturers, buyers, editors, models and photographers, to name but a few. Though the interest in fashion seems insatiable, many parts of the system are yet virtually unknown or poorly understood. A small group of agents is specialized in what's called fashion forecasting: they produce and sell information on what are expected to become the must-haves of the next season. They claim to reveal the future of fashion. Having been active within the fashion forecasting business, directing the Swedish Fashion Council for many years, Ingrid Giertz-Martenson has seen this phenomenon from within. In her paper, she discusses the following questions: what is fashion forecasting, who are the actors, how do they produce their information, and who is using it? What relationships do they have to one another, and how is status and recognition created in the continuous struggle between the actors? How are ordinary consumers influenced by these trend predictions — or are they? Is forecasting actually helping the consumer to make better choices, and does it create new fashion trends?
Marco Pedroni offers his paper From Fashion Forecasting to Coolhunting. Previsional Models in Fashion and in Cultural Production. The transition from haute couture to pret-a-porter in the 1960s created a great revolution in the fashion industry, both in production and in consumption. One of the most relevant aspects in this process is the emergent demand for the prediction of trends, in order to acquire a higher level of competitiveness compared to rivals. This brought about the birth of a structured activity known as fashion forecasting, managed by bureaux de style and embodied in trendbooks. Nowadays, this activity is often referred to as coolhunting, a striking term that implies the idea of research as an intuitive "hunt" for incipient signals in fashion and in consumers' lifestyles. The paper discusses coolhunting, a developing professional activity, as an emblematic place of symbolic mechanisms crucial to explain not only the fashion system, but also many cultural processes of production and consumption of material goods rich in immaterial contents. The aim suggests that coolhunting is historically rooted in fashion forecasting, but is also characterized by a relevant set of novelties, above all the shifting of research from a monolithic interest in fashion fads to sociocultural trends that involve the whole symbolic imagination of the customer. A second important point is the extension of fashion's forecasted model to many branches of cultural production, more and more involved in a trend-oriented logic. Coolhunters emerge also as «messengers of distinction», the matching point between the consumers' need for distinction and the producers' attempt to create distinctive goods.
This issue's Body section deals with the nude and naked body. It opens with Ruth Barcan's "Regaining what Mankind has Lost through Civilization": Early Nudism and Ambivalent Moderns. The disappearance of nudity from everyday public life and its increasing subjection to a range of social and psychological taboos is, according to Norbert Elias, one of the "civilizing" processes that characterized modernity. But the discourses of modernity are full of ambivalence about the gains and losses of civilization. This paper is a study of such ambivalence, using the example of early nudism. This paper argues that early nudism stood in paradoxical relation to modern society. On the one hand, it was a bodily critique of modernity — of class distinctions, materialism and the stresses of industrialized and urbanized life. Civilization, it seemed, had not brought all it promised, a truth that nudist Maurice Parmelee called "a fact of poignant significance". On the other hand, nudism was also a bold and self-consciously "modern" philosophy, whose advocates drew on the emerging discourses of psychology, sexology, feminism and sometimes eugenics to argue that nudism was the only viable future for modern societies. Nudists urged their readers to cast off superstition, hypocrisy and "old" thinking — especially on matters of sex and gender — and to join them in creating a New Eden. This paper traces two contradictory impulses of nostalgia and progres- sivism, through a consideration of six key themes of nudist writing: shame and modesty; relations between the sexes; connectedness to nature; heliotherapy (the medical use of sunlight); the health and beauty of the race; and the elimination of class distinctions.
In Nudity as Theatrical Costume, Irina Sirotkina discusses Nikolai Evreinov's collection of articles Nudity on the Stage. In this controversial publication, the dramatist and theatre director raises the issue of the naked body onstage. The era of nudity proclaimed by Evreinov in the introduction to his book did not initially entail a removal of clothes, but a shedding of shoes and stockings. While to us such a move might appear bashful and half-hearted, it appears to have acted as a catalyst for the appearance of the naked body onstage. One of the first to take the plunge was "barefoot dancer" Isadora Duncan, followed by a string of men and women alike. The American dancer's performances in Russia sparked debate on the presentation of nudes on the stage, and how "bare" in this context differs from "naked". By way of conclusion, the author discusses various concepts of nudity as theatrical costume: the "antique nudity" of Duncan's followers, the "body makeup" in the dance productions of avant-garde choreographers Lev Lukin and Kasian Goleizovsky, and the sporty nudity of Soviet gymnasts.
Anna Razogreeva presents Nudists, Children and Naked Hooligans: The Body as Locus of Social Order in Late Soviet Circumstances. Examining nudism in the USSR and in modern Russia, the author focuses on legal norms concerning this phenomenon, and on their observance. In her study, Razogreeva refers to memoirs, personal accounts, and a wealth of printed matter such as brochures, directories and leaflets. In casting an attentive professional glance at a naked figure, what does a lawyer see? A naked figure, you might say. Wrong! What the lawyer in fact sees is corpus delicti: whether or not a crime can be shown to have been committed, and if so, how and why. How, if at all, was the naked body described in late Soviet legal and criminological discourse? Who was allowed to appear naked in the final decades of the USSR's existence, where and under what circumstances was this allowed?
The author examines three types of nudes: children on a beach, whose carefree safety was guaranteed by the absence of the pedophile's victimizing stare; everyday hooligans, who flouted the "rules of Soviet communal living" with "especial cynicism"; and nudists, virtually invisible to the authorities.
Michael Carter, Honorary Associate of the Department of Art History and Film Studies at Sydney University offers John Carl and the Naked Future, an in-depth contextual analysis of The Psychology of Clothes by John Carl Flugel (1874-1955). The English psychologist and philosopher was the first psychoanalyst to study the cultural aspect of clothing.
The Culture section is, once again, devoted to fashion and music, and opens with Michael A. Langkjaer's Black to Black: Two Mistresses of Black, Siouxsie Sioux and Janelle Morne. Pop musicians performing in black stage costume take advantage of cultural traditions relating to matters black. Stylistically, black is a paradoxical color: although a symbol of melancholy, pessimism, and renunciation, black also expresses minimalist modernity and signifies exclusivity (as is hinted by Rudyard Kipling's illustration of The [Black] Cat That Walked by Himself in his classic children's tale). It was well-understood by uniformed Anarchists, Fascists and the SS that there is an assertive presence connected with the black-clad figure. Pop performers in black capitalize on the paradox of black's abstract elegance, menace, sensual spur, and associations with death, along with this assertive presence. This becomes especially clear when comparing the distinctive stage-styles of Siouxsie Sioux (born 1957, UK) and Janelle Monae (born 1985, USA). Siouxsie Sioux's late 1970s black aesthetic had unmistakable associations with interwar Weimar Berlin, Louise Brooks ("Die Brooks"), Sally Bowles, Cabaret, and Nazi chic. It was a look that originally went along with the Dadaist spirit of punk in protesting the dystopian "no future" status of youth in Western society. Equally influential, and without a doubt more central, to Sioux's visual performances in the long run were the aesthetics of Man Ray, Constructivism, and above all, German Expressionist cinema, notably The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Leaping forward some 30 years, we see a faultlessly black-tuxe- doed and cape-clad Janelle Monae reproducing the bourgeois-aspiring aesthetic of 1920s and 1930s New York City Harlem renaissance jazz clubs, gangsters, Marlene Dietrich, Fred Astaire, and classics of American film noir: "I bathe in it, I swim in it, and I could be buried in it. A tux is such a standard uniform, it's so classy and it's a lifestyle I enjoy". For Monae, the tuxedo is both working clothes and a superhero uniform. Together with futuristic references to Fritz Lang's dystopian Metropolis, her trademark starched shirt and tuxedo also recall Weimar and pre-war Berlin. While outwardly dissimilar, Sioux's and Monae's shared black-styled references to, among other things, the culturally and ideologically effervescent interwar period prompted the author to wonder what alternative possibilities — for instance, "emancipation" — a comparative analysis might disclose concerning the visual rhetoric of black. Thus, in conclusion, it is briefly suggested that appreciation of the highly personal motives of both Siouxsie Sioux and Janelle Monae in wearing black may be achieved via analogies with the minimalist sublime of American artists Frank Stella's and Ad Reinhardt's black canvasses.
Dirk Gindt presents Performative Processes: Bjork's Creative Collaborations with the World of Fashion. Icelandic singer, songwriter and actress Bjorkis well-known for collaborating and staging creative experiments with the most diverse musicians and producers. She is also famed for employing an army of programmers and technical staff. In 1997, while promoting an album of remixes by various artists who had radically reworked her songs, Bjork strikingly and laconically described the philosophy behind her creative approach, which thrives on diverse cooperation. Comparing music to sex, she questioned why anyone would want to have sex alone, when one can have it with others. The author examines how Bjork uses dress as a creative medium to enhance her musical vision, visualize her patriotic politics, as well as ally herself with performance art and further strengthen her position in the avant- garde. Specific attention is devoted to her joining forces with British designer Alexander McQueen and British photographer Nick Knight. The last part of the article takes Bjork's involvement with SHOWstudio as a starting point to reflect on some of the consequences when these visual and performative collaborations move into the realm of the digital.
In the Museum Business column, we offer Valerie Steele's Museum Quality: The Rise of the Fashion Exhibition. The article surveys the history of museum fashion exhibitions, exploring some of the reasons why they have so often been controversial. Issues such as corporate sponsorship, curatorial independence, and historical accuracy are analyzed in connection with a range of exhibitions. In particular, the article considers the influence of Diana Vreeland's exhibitions at the Costume Institute, and the issues that are raised when an exhibition is devoted to a single famous designer, such as Armani, Versace, or Vi- vienne Westwood.
In the Books section, Alexander Markov presents Gilles Lipovetsky: Fashion as an Immortal Flower. The Russian translation of the French philosopher and sociologist's L'Empire de l'Ephemre: La Mode et Son Destin dans les Societes Modernes (Paris: Gallimard, 1987) is shortly to appear in the Fashion Theory journal library series.
In Clothes for the Warm Season, Hans J. Rindisbacher reviews Larissa Zakharova's S'habiller a la Sovietique: La Mode et le Degel en URSS (Paris: CNR Seditions, 2011).
In The Body Japanese: Beauty without Sadness, Alexander Markov looks at Alexander Meshcheryakov's Turning Japanese. The Topography and Adventures of the Body (Moscow, Eksmo, 2012. 432 pp., ill.)
In the Events section, Julia Pine's Camouflage reviews "Camouflage: From Battlefield to Catwalk" at Ottawa's Canadian War Museum (5 June 2009 — 3 January 2010).
Laura M. Helms also presents The Shoemaker's Workshop in a Museum Context, reviewing "Salvatore Ferragamo: Inspiration and Vision" at Florence's Museo Salvatore Ferragamo (27 May 2011 — 12 March 2012) and "Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990" at Victoria & Albert Museum (24 September 2011 — 15 January 2012).
Liudmila Aliabieva gives a brief overview of the 1st Trans/National Clothing: Production and Consumption conference at Bath Spa University (1-4 September 2011) and exhibition "Global Style: Celebrities as Trans/National Icons" shown as part of the event.
In Coats! Anna Pokotilo visits "Coats! MaxMara: 60 Years of Italian Fashion" at Moscow's State Historical Museum (12 October 2011 — 10 January 2012).
Daria Dolores in Coming Full Circle explores "Fashion behind the Iron Curtain: A Look at Soviet Stars' Wardrobes" at Moscow's Tsarit- syno State Museum-Reserve (23 February — 12 June 2012).
Daria Tarnopolskaya presents William Klein: Fashion out of Focus: a review of the "William Klein. New York 1955" exhibition at Moscow's Multimedia Art Museum (7 March — 15 April 2012).
Maria Khachaturian's Louis Vuitton — Marc Jacobs: Disappearing Luxury reviews the "Louis Vuitton — Marc Jacobs" exhibition at the Paris Musee des Arts Decoratifs (9 March — 16 September 2012).
Textile Design for Times of Peaceby Laura M. Helms is a review of "Designing Women: Post-war British Textiles" at London's Fashion and Textile Museum (16 March — 16 June 2012).
Elena Igumnova's The British Paradox takes a look at "Reconstruction: Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Trends in Fashion" at the ARTPLAY Design Center, Moscow (24 April — 10 May 2012).