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 look at constructing femininity.
Kevin Almond's Fashionably Voluptuous: Repackaging the Fuller-Sized Figureinvestigates the voluptuous female silhouette in fashion. Is it a superimposed image of a desired female form, or a way of accentuating the ample assets of a larger-sized body? Body image has been identified as crucial to clothing provision and fashion consumption. Research has recognized that fuller-sized and obese people have been considered unhappy, unconfident and unattractive, and has identified a high level of discrimination and negativity towards the overweight. Presenting and describing a body as voluptuous could be a more palatable way to repackage and reconceptualize the larger-sized. It is perhaps a more flattering description, shrouding the prejudices with regards to fashion, style and garment selection. The investigation adopts a number of methodological approaches to identify the fashion choices available for voluptuous bodies and determine whether these clothes involve levels of body modification. The research also suggests how the repackaged voluptuous body could continue to be represented in a future global marketplace.
Prudence Black offers Lines of Flight: The Female Flight Attendant Uniform. The combination of new technology facilitating international travel, along with postwar prosperity and modernist aesthetics led to the expansion of a relatively new profession for young women: the flight hostess (later named flight attendant). At one time a profession as glamorous as modeling, today there are hundreds of thousands of uniformed women in movement around the world branding international and domestic airlines as corporate/national identities. Certain structured combinations of items define the paradigm of such uniforms, with particular variations that respond to keeping up a national image in cosmopolitan contexts. This article uses the Qantas flight hostess uniforms as an example displaying both practicality and articulation of a new cosmopolitan modernism. Being modern in this respect also meant 'talking a uniform language' and responding to the demands of comfort and safety.
Inna Osinovskaya's Spinning a Good Yarn: The Fairytale Poetics of Spinners, Spinning Wheels and Thread analyses the range of connotations and images associated with distaffs, yarn and spinners in myths and folklore. Calling on a wide range of texts, the author shows that these elements of everyday life in bygone days possessed negative and mysterious meanings and senses. Closely connected with the poetics of fate and death, they were linked to the themes of witchcraft and the other world. The main spinners of myths were perhaps the goddesses of fate — Greek and Roman, but also Russian, such as the goddess Mokoshi, albeit she is not generally seen as a deity of fate. The main spinners of tales were witches such as the German Golda and Russian Baba Yaga. Osinovs- kaya's paper is based on folklore sources as well as key research on fairytales and myths including the work of Potebnja, Propp and Meletinsky.
Olga Vainstein's Metamorphoses of the Fashionable Body: Cities and Blogs looks at the emergence of a new canon of the body in fashion, a process largely governed by new technologies. The author examines representations of the virtual body, an area that is witnessing a shift in boundaries of the body and a broadening of the normative concepts of the body in fashion. Fashion's response to changes in the means of rep- resentating the body — in photography, advertising or new media — is normally direct and fast. Such processes are especially well-developed online, in particular in blogs. The author looks at three areas in which the influence of the new poetics of representation of the body is particularly evident: street fashion blogs, the 'active consumer' phenomenon, and dedicated fashion and beauty blogs. Vainstein looks at retouching in glossies, analyzing the debate around computer-enhanced images in advertising and around the newly emerging body forms such as the 'leaking body' or technobody. By way of conclusion, Vainstein takes a detailed look at the work of designer Shelley Fox.
In this issue's Body section, we turn to sport. In Sportiness: The Fashionable Trend of De-Stalinization, Natalia Lebina examines the much under-researched issue of amateur sport's democratization and demilitarization in the USSR following Stalin's death. Looking at traditional historical evidence as well as at literary texts from the 1960s, Lebina traces the evolution of physical exercise from civic duty and a means, under Stalin, of forming 'communal' bodies, to leisure pastime and fashionable personal pursuit.
In Theatre of Collective Enthusiasm: Meyerhold, Podvoisky and the Birth of Physical Culture Parades, Irina Sirotkina turns to the history of the physical culture parade. Wagner's ecstasy at Beethoven's Ninth symphony was amply echoed in the USSR. During the Silver Age, theatre appeared to Russians an example of collective living, a model of unity, a contemporary commune. Vyacheslav Ivanov saw the theatre as a theurgic art that does away with boundaries between actors and viewers, stage and audience. Anatoly Lunacharsky dreamed of a day when, in theatres of the future, 'souls will fly open to greet each other, and the walls of our one-man cells will crumble.' The creators of Proletcult believed that 'proletarian theatre would be truly collective, with viewers engaged in the action, with mass reach and improvisation.' One popular form of such mass events was the physical culture parade: through this genre, which became so familiar to Soviet people, unity was finally accomplished. But only through subjugating the movements and feelings of a large number of people — who became a sort of amorphous mass — to the will of a single producer. Sirotkina delves deep into questions such as, what really was the nature of Te-Phys-Cult, that bizarre hybrid of theatre and physical culture which emerged at the dawn of the Soviet era? And what were the true origins of physical culture parades — those 'theatres of collective enthusiasm'?
In the Culture section, this time around we look at movement and the city.
Just as public transport is a key feature of the city, so too are the stops where one can board it. In What Could Be More Senseless than Waiting? Public Transport Stops as Places and Events, Andrei Vozianov considers whether these stops should be seen as places or non-places. Rather than reaching any definite conclusion, the author chooses to examine the repertoire of transport stop experience. Vozianov looks at waiting for public transport, the shared occupation of people at such stops, as a particular form of relating to the future. The time spent waiting for, and in, public transport may be relatively short, and cannot always be viewed as especially poignant; yet for many of us, these episodes are quite frequent, a familiar part of urban life, like traffic jams, shops or queues. Furthermore, our expectations of the future are often brought into play against a backdrop of other processes and peregrinations, yet at the transport stop they are brought into being, localized and fixed. How do such stops come into being? How do electronic displays influence one's bus-stop experience? And how is the process and location of the wait affected by mobile devices and 'share taxis' — the mode of transport that falls between taxi and bus, following a fixed route yet only stopping on demand?
In Dancing Passengers: An Observer of Urban Life in Search of Analytical Representation, Alexandra Ivanova looks at questions such as, how does one portray the transient? How does one describe the elusive? How to interpret the signals of the complex dance-like motion performed by the passenger on public transport, and firmly embedded in the fabric of everyday urban living? How to find, or perhaps stumble by chance upon, the right angle to view, the right words to describe, the right ways to visualize the body-sketch of a passenger? (Here, we are put in mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Dancing Men). Using the customary means at the urban researcher's disposal, how can one remain sensitive to motion, and overcome the effects produced by these very methods? The author examines the search for the right words and the growing complexity of analytical tools; the honing of a particular vision and of a special awareness of the mobile.
Galina Orlova's Saving To a Cloud: The Nomadic Horizon of Urban Conversationsexamines city chats in all their triviality and plain inconspicuousness as the speech dimension of social multitude and as one of the many geographies of the megalopolis. The author looks at how one can work with a subject that does not fall within the conventional scenarios of text analysis, and could even be said, in its own way, to subvert its hegemony. Orlova considers feature films and other cinematic genres, audio-flaneuring, city blogs and digital arts experiments with visualization as 'donor fields' for defocused analysis and new ways of representing fragmented, polyphonic, background and constantly moving city speech.
Oksana Zaporozhets's article Tuning the City to One's Own Frequency: The Metro in Ordering Urban Experience looks at how the metro, or underground is used by contemporary city-dwellers. The metro today is mainly known as one of the principal transport systems of the megalopolis. Its true role in urban life is in fact much broader, however. Having appeared a century and a half ago, the metro largely determined both the look of many modern cities, and the practices of urban living. One of the key technologies of modern life, it strongly contributed to the emergence of the mobile city-dweller: the person who, every single day, travels long distances as a simple matter of course. Today however, this gradually aging technology seldom sets the standards of urban life's organization, trailing instead the appearance of more contemporary spaces such as shopping malls, stations etc. Zaporozhets's field research conducted with metro passengers in 2013-2014 in Moscow and Kazan shows that among underground users and modern city-dwellers in general, there has been an important change: they have become more competent, more skilled in how they interact with their urban environment. Unlike their predecessors, today's city-dwellers are unfazed by the sheer diversity and changeability of urban living: they are capable of manipulating it, regulating the intensity of their urban experience. Thus, the metro is used not only as a means of transport, but also as an instrument for creating one's own unique relationship with the city and everyday life, for instance, by lowering the intensity of urban impressions or by making time for oneself despite a busy schedule.
In our Fashion Practice column Anna Tikhomirova's paper From Trash to Trendadresses important issues of extremely popular today upcycling fashion in Germany. What is the difference between upcycling, recycling and downcycling? How was it possible, that Germany — this European champion in recycling — still limps along as a quite average performer in the realm of upcycling? Is this 'new' upcycling trend really so new, what other upcycling cultures do we know from the history of consumption, among others, for example, what about the Soviet one? What are the motives behind the contemporary German upcycling fashion, in comparison with its Soviet forerunner? How do Gerrman up- cycling labels use ,pre- und postconsumer waste', and how the resulting things look like? Finally, what about ,usual consumers' in contemporary Germany — what they think about upcycling fashion, how their re-fashion attemts look like, in comparison with high upcycling fashion, and so on — the essay tries to answer these and some other questions.
In the Events section, Anastasya Korotkova and Olga Annanurova offer Access Code 007: their take on Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style at Moscow's Multimedia Art Museum (11 June — 7 September 2014).
Maria Khachaturian shares her impressions of 'Tattoists, Tattooed' at the Paris Musee du Quai Branly (6 May 2014 — 18 October 2015) in Between Marker and Marked.
In A High Fashion Show for All, Gaba Najmanovich reviews 'The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk' at London's Barbican Art Gallery (9 April — 25 August 2014).
In this issue's Books section, Agalya Allmer presents Architecturally Black — a review of Why Do Architects Wear Black? Cordula Rau (ed.) (Vienna: Springer Verlag, 2008); Juliette Peers offers reviews of Alison McQueen's Empress Eugenie and the Arts: Politics and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century, Ashgate, 2011, and of Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity, Gloria Groom (ed.), Art Institute of Chicago in association with Yale University Press, 2012. The exhibition of that name was held in the Musee D'Orsay, Paris (25 September 2012 — 20 January 2013), the Metropolitan Museum, New York (26 February — 27 May 2013) and the Art Institute of Chicago (25 June — 22 September 2013).