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 devoted to gender.
The author of numerous articles on the history of dress, Peter McNeil is Professor at Stockholm University's Centre for Fashion Studies, and Professor of Design History at Sydney's University of Technology. In 'That Doubtful Gender': Macaroni Dress and Male Sexualities, McNeil takes a look at the macaronies — a group of English men who adopted a particularly ostentatious and fashionable mode of dressing and deportment in the 1760s and 1770s. It was an urban style, coined to describe the wealthy youth of the clubs of St. James's in London, and current also in fashionable provincial centers like Bath and York. Initially restricted to members of the aristocracy and gentry, the behavior and its appellation spread to include men of the middle and servant classes who wore versions of this lavish clothing, or who styled their hair to accord with macaroni modes. The macaronies used their dress and their bodies in a war of style, asserting their right to wear clothing traditionally reserved for courtiers, or to wear it in spaces where such clothes were not normally worn in England. The macaroni persona was activated as much through a mannered and performative behavior as through expensive garments, with an emphasis upon Francophile artifice in posture, gesture, speech, cosmetics and hairdress- ing. The macaronies upset preconceptions both of gender — 'a Macaroni renders his sex dubious by the extravagance of his appearance' (Town and Country 1772: 243), and of sexuality. As soon as the macaroni stereotype entered the middle-class press, the character was interpreted as sodomiti- cal. Yet over time, this feature was forgotten, with the main emphasis being placed on the macaronies' extravagance. In analysing this fascinating group, McNeil makes use of contemporary texts and images, broadening our knowledge of the sexual subcultures and stereotypes of the time.
Vicki Karaminas offers The Vampire Dandy. Reconceptualising Masculine Identities in Fashion, Cinema, and Literature. Examining the vampire image in books, films and fashion, the author ponders on the nature of its attraction in popular modernculture. The emergence of the vampire-dandy shows a clear link between consumption, sexual attraction, voyeurism and power. The images of the vampire and the dandy have both metaphorical and conceptual links. Both lead an idle life, taking pride in their aesthetic qualities and recherche tastes. They also possess historical similarities: both were popular in the early 19th century, at a time of social and political upheaval, and both re-emerged in recent years during the ongoing global economic crisis of the early 21st century. Still more significantly, the vampire and the dandy share a common genealogy. Blurring the distinctions between male and female, homo and hetero, they allow a more fluid, less conventional identity to emerge. The popularity of the vampire-dandy image goes to show that views on masculinity are once more shifting, the author concludes.
Larissa Rudova's article Girls, Beauty, and Femininity: Post-Soviet Commodity Tales draws attention to the role and meaning of beauty and consumer culture in a subgenre of adolescent girl fiction that the author calls 'post-Soviet commodity tales'. 'Commodity tales' are highly popularstories, acutely attuned to the life of Russian adolescent girls. While 'commodity tales' promote consumer ideology, they also educate girls in how to use consumer culture, appropriate behavior, and body techniques to achieve a dominant position in their peer or social group. Most importantly, 'commodity tales' participate in girls' education by shaping their gender perceptions. Rudova's analysis focuses on two popular tales, Ludmila Mat- veeva's Beauty Contest in the Sixth Grade (2001) and Svetlana Lubenets' A Heart for the Invisible Man (2007). These tales vividly demonstrate their authors' gender ideology and its implications for the construction of Russian adolescent femininity.
This issue's Body section deals with the boundaries of the body. It opens with Dmitry Antonov's Invisible Bodies: Angels, Demons and Their 'Flesh' in Ancient Russian Culture. Christian thought divides spirits into heavenly angels and fallen demons. Their radical difference notwithstanding, both are immortal and possess superhuman powers. But are they, nevertheless, endowed with something akin to a body? Can a mortal have physical contact with a spirit — grab it, hold it or even beat it, perhaps wounding the invisible being, or causing it pain? Medieval Russians and Europeans alike were convinced that this was possible. In many writings, the righteous were portrayed battling demons that resemble wild beasts, or beating evil spirits as one would beat a man. A demon could lose an 'eye', have its 'stomach' ripped open, or even perish from the blows of a saint. Yet if angels and demons are incorporeal beings, how can they possess 'eyes', 'beards' or 'meat'? If a spirit can traverse any wall or obstacle, how can it be tied up with rope, or beaten with an oar? And if a demon has no nose, why does it so abhor smoke from burning peacock feathers?
The Soviet Communal House: Boundaries of the Body by Natalia Lebina looks at problems of establishing and maintaining the limits of the body in the process of the formation of 'communal bodies', which was taking place in 1920s — 1930s Russia. The main tool in this process were communal houses, the concept of which had been put forward by the Utopian socialists. The author examines different types of communal dwellings that existed in the 1920s and 1930s, such as houses of Soviets, hotels of Soviets, specialized communal houses and communal apartments, looking at the ways in which individuals could create their own space in each.
Kate Ince's Operations of Redress: Orlan, the Body and Its Limitsbegins with an overview of the surgical project of performance art engaged in by the French artist Orlan between 1990 and 1993. In The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan, each feature of the artist's face was sculpturally redesigned to match one from a different female icon in the history of Western art (the forehead of the Mona Lisa, chin of Botticelli's Venus etc). The paper considers the relationship between Orlan's project and contemporary technology, assessing how meaningful her claims about the obsolescence of the human body in an electronic age may be. The third section of the article turns to Orlan's series of performances with dress and costume, and to the new role given in these and other works to the skin as bodily 'envelope' and a significant element in psychoanalytic accounts of ego formation and psychological relationships to space. This section focuses particularly on the 'mesurages' or measurings, in which Orlan used her female body as an alternative to a supposedly neutral (=male) measure of public space. Drawing on different philosophical accounts of the concept of the imaginary, the article suggests that Luce Irigaray's writings on the currently fragmented and unsymbolised female imaginary best explain what is at stake in Or- lan's public use of her body as a measure.
In Galina Orlova's article How Is a "Certain Position" Maid? Embodied Dispositive of the Pregnancy Imitation imitation of pregnancy represents as a practice of a child waiting for adoption which is characterized by particular regimes of embodiment and subjectivity. The aim is understand how participants of the Russian internet-community "Imitushki" use their bodies and artifacts to perform a woman who isn't pregnant as a pregnant and to provide her maternal subjectivity as a whole and coherent project. Observing the artificial belly in the light of its materiality and practical modes of utilization, the author problematizes impact of the gadget in the new body project of woman whose absent pregnancy becomes really embodied through objectivation
Linor Goralik's 'Dreamlike Guilt': How Suitable Is Your Outfit? Subjective Anxiety and the Search for Objective Factors is based on a poll of some 300 people. The author analyzes the reasons behind, and structure of, the subjective feeling that one's outfit is inappropriate to this or that social situation. The rapid decline, restructuring and increasing volatility of formal codes over the last few decades has put people in an ambiguous situation.
Aware that, albeit blurred, formal boundaries of the appropriateness of this or that costume in a given situation do nonetheless exist, individuals have nothing but their own subjective judgment to guide them in deciding how well-received their outfit will be by others. To further complicate matters, modern society offers more than one scale of evaluation: one can dress according to the rules or by flaunting them; choose to conform or stand out; be traditional or ultramodern. This state of affairs understandably leads to anxiety which, for some, may border on a constant state of frustration, with any situation capable of inflicting massive trauma. The subjective impression of inappropriateness of their outfit can cause grown adults to burst suddenly into tears, or to rush out of the room. To lessen the degree of unbearable personal frustration, individuals may resort to different tactics in an attempt to formulate objective constant guidelines, laws and rules governing dress — if only for personal use. Such tactics, as well as the reaction which prompts their elaboration, provide the focus of this paper.
The Culture section focuses on fashion and literature.
The author of Dress as Item and Image in Russian Literature, Raissa Kirsanova is an art expert, specializing in issues of attribution in art. Kirsanova's research is based on a wealth of sources including Russian literature, with its invaluable reflection of everyday life in the country. Comparing different sources, the author is able to establish the chronological periods, to which this or that type of costume, material and accessories belong. The role of dress in creating an artistic image in a literary text depends on a writer's style, cultural experience and general worldview.
In The Performance of Christina Light, Clair Hughes analyzes the image of Christina Light from Henry James' The Princess Casamassima. Christina's appearance is striking: she remains a mystery, haughty yet seductive in her role as socialist revolutionary. Hughes invites the reader to take a closer look at Christina's vivid, yet difficult-to-pin-down image, and at the influence the heroine exerts over those unfortunate enough to stand in her way. How well do we understand Christina? The heroine's metamorphoses, Hughes concludes, are connected with what Georg Simmel calls the 'perfidious inconstancy' of fashion; yet her appearance is only occasionally explicitly linked with vogue. Besides her publications on James, Clair Hughes is best known for her book Dressed in Fiction, which traces the role of clothing in 18th and 19th-century novels.
In The Things of Anna Akhmatova, Tatiana Karateeva turns to the role which clothing and personal items played in the life of the Russian poet.
While filling her poetry with meticulous descriptions of everyday objects, it seems Akhmatova was seldom truly attached to them, considering precious only things connected with 'memories of the heart'. At the same time dress, accessories and personal items played a big part in her life, and in the creation of her image. Akhmatova was famous for her ability to shape her appearance on a whim, presenting herself as beauty or waif according to her mood. Throwing her famous shawl over her shoulders, she was capable of transforming herself in a second. Paying a visit to friends in an old kimono, she could still look like a queen. Akhmatova loved unusual loose clothing which allowed ease of movement, presumably answering some inner need for greater freedom: her so-called 'cassocks', 'rags' and 'tatters'. An individual's clothes and personal belongingsspeak volumes about their identity: like sponges, they soak up the atmosphere around them, and the very spirit of the times.
Valeria Chernova's 'Making a Dress Is Like Building a House': The Dreams and Realities of Unusual Soviet Fashionistas studies the fashion discourse in the fifty-year correspondence of two famous sisters. Both well- known, larger-than-life figures, for years Lilya Brik and Elsa Triolet lived in different capitals — one in Moscow, the other in Paris. The importance and detail of fashion-related passages in their letters varied with the times, as did the aspects of fashion discussed: for convenience's sake, the author groups the subjects thematically. The sisters inhabited two countries, worlds apart. While one lived in a socialist society, the other experienced capitalism. One was part of a consumer society; the other grew used to defitsit. With this contrast in mind, the author strove to single out and analyze the fashion discourse and details concerning dress in the letters of these two sisters. At the same time, Chernova sheds light on the ideology of the 'formation' and 'disciplining' of the Soviet body, which led to the emergence of everyday behavioral practices that eventually came to constitute 'alternative', or 'handmade' Soviet fashion.
Lisa Cohen in her paper 'Frock Consciousness': Virginia Woolf, the Open Secret, and the Language of Fashion looks at Virginia Woolf's fiction, criticism, and autobiographical work which display a sustained focus on clothes, and on the problems and pleasures of fashionability. From her earliest diary entries, Woolf is consistently fascinated by clothing and its effects on consciousness, or on the relationship between clothing and character. In general she uses frocks to think about the modernist problem of how to represent character. Woolf wrote of 'Frock Consciousness' in her diary, an oxymoron since frock refers to something for the outside, while consciousness describes the mind and spirit inside us. Such a dynamic of transparency and opacity is characterized by the open secret — a structure that allows a particular fact to be at once acknowledged and disavowed, seen and unseen; a salient example being the discourse about homosexuality. Cohen goes on to consider the relationship between fashion and the open secret, in a discussion of Woolf's ties to British Vogue, and specifically Dorothy Todd and Madge Garland, in the 1920s.
In the Practice of Fashion column, Tone Tobiasson offers Capturing Quirky: Tradition Revisited, the story behind the success of Norwegian design brand Arne & Carlos, who have turned the iconic Norwegian knitted sweater into Christmas decorations. Travelling around the world with their knitted friends, the duo somehow reinvented Norwegians' love of tradition on the way.
In this issue's Books section, Anna Zhabreva writes about А Collection of the Dresses of Different Nations — a little-known publication on the history of costume from the second half of the 18th century.
Alexander Markov offers A Body Open to Wounds, a review of Written on the Body: The Tattoo in European and American History (2009).
In Fashion Fantasies, Maria Khachaturian reviews Peter McNeil, Vicki Karaminas, Catherine Cole (eds). Fashion in Fiction: Text and Clothing in Literature, Film and Television (2009).
Ksenia Gussarova presents Kaleidoscopes of Meaning — a look at Images in Time: Flashing Forward, Backward, in Front and behind Photography in Fashion, Advertising and the Press / Ed. by Sigurjonsdottir Ж, Langkjasr M.A., Turney J. (2011).
In the Events section, Liuba Popova visits 'Walter Van Beirendonck. Dream the World Awake', an exhibition at Antwerp's MOMA, and shares her impressions in The Wonderland of Walter Van Beirendonck.
In The 18th Century Returns, Laura M. Helms reviews 'Le XVIIIe au Gout du Jour' at Versailles palace and park in the Grand Trianon, 8 July — 9 October 2011. The author also visited 'The Power of Making' at London's Victoria and Albert Museum (6 September 2011 — 2 January 2012) and presents her review The Forces of Creation.
In I, Culture in Moscow. A Personal History of Trades, Tatiana Karateeva shares her impressions of the Moscow stage of the international project I, Culture, held in the Russian capital's Central House of Artists between 23 and 25 September 2011.
Visiting Lennox is Laura M. Helms' review of the 'House of Annie Lennox' exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum (15 September 2011 — 26 February 2012).
A Style for the Heart of the Matter by Margarita Albedil looks at the 'Russian Style. Style of Life and Style of Art' exhibition at the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg in the Engineers' House of the Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg (25 November 2011 — 31 December 2012).
Bella Neyman's From Picasso to Koons: A Master Class in Original Jewelry- Making looks at the exhibition 'Picasso to Koons: The Artist as Jeweler', held at New York's Museum of Arts and Design between 20 September 2011 and 8 January 2012. Neyman also visits the Daphne Guinness exhibition at New York's Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (16 September 2011 — 7 January 2012), and offers her review Daphne Guinness: CollecSor or Fashionista?
Kristel Erga contributes Wool that Shines — a brief review of the 'Wool Modern' exhibition at London's La Galleria Pall Mall contemporary art gallery (7-29 September 2011).