th ea +D Pa r s o n s S c h o o l O f D e s i g n
JOURNAL OF FASHION STUDIES
Journal of Fashion Studies
DRESS PRACTICE COLLECTIVE M i s s i o n S t a te m e n t The Dress Practice Collective is a New School studentrun organization aimed at joining elements of visual culture, fashion theory, design studies and personal practice through a variety of media. We hope to spark conversations and initiate collaborations between students, faculty and members of the greater community. The organization was founded in Spring 2013 for the purpose of presenting exhibitions, organizing workshops, and publishing original content.
Journal of Fashion Studies
Managing Editors Maegan Stracy Nate Hoe Creative Director Yve Bee Editorial Staff Elena Johanson Anna Rodgers Mary Stringham Amelie Varsi Noel Yeong-An Liao Faculty Advisor Emilia Boulton Founding Editors Sara Idacavage Kim Jenkins Rachel Kinnard Laura Peach
BIAS, the Journal of Fashion Studies, wishes to thank Heike Jenss, Rhonda Garelick & the entire MA Fashion Studies community for their guidance, kindness and encouragement. This journal would not be possible without the support of the School of Art & Design History and Theory. BIAS extends gratitude to all of our contributors, student organizations and Downtime Studio.
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BIAS, Issue 7, ÂŠ 2020 the authors and photographers; All archival images used are strictly for educational purposes. They are not to be reproduced without permission of the original copyright holders. We regret any omissions and, if noted, will amend in future editions. On the Cover: The fascimile Nina Ricci perfume bottle used by members of Russian Intelligence to administer a nerve agent which resulted in the poisoning of double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, Charlie Rowley, and caused the death of Dawn Sturgess.
Dressing For Death
tw ee Th e Ch ile an Ma ntl e: Be
n the Sa cre d an d the
Pr ofa ne 8
an HU NT of My Fr ien ds 12 Ab iga il BU ZB EE + Ry Wh at’s Le ft of a Fe w sh ion s & RA PT UR E: Fin al Fa
Pia INTERLANDI Pa th ways Le ad ing
From Fa sh ion to Fu
ne ra ls 22
What Will You Wear on the Other Side? 28
The Singapore Deathscape: A Study of Traditional Mourning Garments and Its Collective Representations in Chinese Rituals for the Departed 30
Celebrity & Death 34
“Touch the Fashion, Change your Life” Maegan STRACY
Ra na Pla za Se ven Ye ars
La ter 40
Lo re na PE RE Z
w Cu sto me r 46 A Ne w Dr es s fo r a Ne LEWIS
Jordan t & Je ro me 48 lio El of Po rtr ait Z FONSECA Yenia HERNANDE
Marie Genevieve CYR
Anc ien t Run ways: 21st Cen tur y Fas hio n Show Pre sen tati ons & Anc ien t Gre ek Ritu als 58
Noel Yeong-An LIAO
The Flo wer for the Aft erli fe: Red Spi der Lily 64
Re be l Re be l 52
Linda TROELLER Personal Opera 70
The Future Body as Ultimate Dress 74
Tattoos and Death 80
ashion is often synonymous with the beginning of something; new trends are integral to the production and dissemination of fashion, but to propel the new forward, does the old have to die? When we chose the topic of Fashion and Death for the seventh issue of BIAS, we had no indication of where we would be in the first few months of 2020. At the time of writing, the BIAS team is working remotely while universities move to digital classrooms, social events embedded in the everyday experience are indefinitely postponed and countless industries attempt to prepare for the unknown effects of a global pandemic. We are left to ask; how will this change the fashion industry? Will the established, outdated fashion calendar finally buckle under decreased fabric supply and limited production capacity? Will independent and small-scale designers lead us through uncertain times to more sustainable outcomes? Or will isolation measures further sediment the dominance of multi-national conglomerates? Death is inherent to fashion; a consistent re-fashioning of the self leaves behind outdated identities while an everpresent obsession with youthfulness neglects the aged while privileging the new. In this issue our contributors examine the physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual implications of death, the inevitable rebirth and its multiple manifestations. Fashion Studies is by nature an interdisciplinary field, it exists at the intersections and margins, it encompasses academia and theory, fashion practioners, designers, artists, creative writers and consumers. In this time of imminent change, we aim to provide a brief moment of interchange and collaboration when community seems to be the only constant.
Dr es sin g
n cre M d& a th n Sa
lh ea e
Figure 2. La Lira Chilena, 1903, No. 42, Santiago, Biblioteca Nacional de Chile.
e B C
Emilia MÜLLER holds a M.A. in Costume Studies from New York University and is now completing her PhD in History at Universidad Católica de Chile. Her research focuses on the relationship between modernity and women’s fashion in Chile between 1850 and 1920, from a perspective of gender, hygiene and material culture. For this she has examined in detail the controversies surrounding certain fashionable pieces of garments: the crinoline, the corset, the Chilean mantle and the harem pants, among others. Emilia has also lectured and worked in institutions dedicated to the study and preservation of dress history, such as the Museo Histórico Nacional in Santiago. She has also volunteered in the fashion departments of the Museum of the City of New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
uring the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the expansion ofthe fashion system throughout the Western world seemed to interfere with all episodes of life, including the rituals of mourning and its sartorial practices. This was visible in the way mourning dresses and accessories changed in tandem with Parisian ideals. This was also the case in Chile, where French fashions had a strong influence over the metropolitan elites, however local etiquettes of bereavement required a different kind of outfit contrary to European models. In the hours of grieving and remembering lost ones, specifically, on All Saint’s Day female mourners would cover themselves with a particular garment while visiting the cemeteries and embellishing the graves.(1) As their mothers and grandmothers had done before them since Colonial times, Chilean women attended funerals, remembered the dead and adorned the tombs of their loved ones while showcasing a local and somber costume: a long, black mantle. This garment was worn by devotees of all social classes, and it covered their bodies and faces with solemnity and great artistry as its precise folding around the visage, with many hidden pins, demanded skilled hands. This “pilgrimage of laborious black ants”, that attended daily mass and gathered during the day of the dead was a fundamental activity of Chilean society during the period.(2) In the turn of the century and in the following two decades, the illustrated magazines of the period revealed the extended use of the mantle in this shared custom through paintings and photographs. Simultaneously, these images focused on an aristocratic display expressed in the ostentatious tombs and flower crowns that glorified both the living and the dead. Public opinion criticized this luxurious exhibition, yet in this exercise of collective remembrance the usage of the mantle granted a temporary social homogeneity. All women, those who place floral ornaments on grandiose mausoleums, or above more modest wooden crosses, were pictured wearing the same pious garments. These images dignified femininity in mourning, a respectful representation of women who were always ready to fulfil this annual Christian imperative to worship the dead. At the same time, it is possible to say that these representations of female languor are a continuation of an early 19th century Romantic phenomenon known as “the beautification of death”.(3) This phenomenon refers to the exaltation of human death through pomp based on extravagant mortuary monuments, funeral sculptures, luxurious processions and public funerals.(4) In this posthumous tribute, Chilean women chose a suitable costume, as the appropriate dress to meet the deceased was beautiful but macabre, “a black cloak like an agglomeration of darkness”.(5) Moreover, the mantle was considered sublime, because it had the capacity to propitiate an intimate and humble dialogue with the divine as it represented a material disconnection with the mundane. This momentaneous covering of the foreign and frivolous adornment of the female body prompted its followers, especially the clergy and conservative matrons, to fight against its demise in the early 20th century. But in 1907, the fashion commentator Rosa Hochstetter of Zig-Zag magazine, already predicted its future abandonment. When translated into English her statement reads:
“Oh! Time! How tastes differ, how Europeans fashions transform us! We must surrender to the evidence; the mantle has little reign…”(6)
In fact, sartorial recommendations concerning mourning fashions in the following decade made no mention of the Chilean mantle and began to replicate models from abroad, which favored modest hats and transparent short veils. Even in 1914, a dry cleaner announced its ability to dye “old black embroidered mantles” to gold, green and burgundy.(7) According to the dress historian Lou Taylor, in Europe the practice of showing inner sadness of loss which was made visible through black costumes and accessories, was more or less abandoned during the First World War. The vision of thousands of women in black became difficult to bear. Widows were busy involved in the home front and could not meet the demands of seclusion imposed by strict mourning etiquette from years prior.(8) Faraway in Chile, strongly connected to international trends, mourning fashionable outfits continued to be promoted, but the former rigidity seems to have relaxed. In 1923, an advisor from Familia magazine warned its readers that mourning should be carried along according to one’s own affection towards the dead person, and that simple hats and shorts veils could be now used, since there was no need to exaggerate.(9) Probably because of its plausible decline, most memorialists of the time focused their nostalgia on the image of the black mantle, a female representation that was slowly fading before the accelerated secularization and modernization of Chile’s urban life. The mantle defined the solemn moments of childhood and adolescence of several authors, it was associated to important religious rituals and a fervent femininity. According to these chronicles, this garment was an evident symptom of “Old Chile”, and a symbol of a In devout and predominantly domestic matriarchy that would a scenario dwell in the public sphere in a “ g r a v e a n d s i l e n t of urban changes, m a n n e r ” , protected from the masculine characterized by an unprecedented eye by the bleak framing of this monetary flow coming from the mining sector garment.(10) and the gradual presence of new social actors known as the middle class, the city, full of strangers, invited its inhabitants to judge from first impressions. Therefore, the importance of the appearances, and of the mantle in particular as it acted as an effective index of decency, conferring a consistent and decorous image of religious piety. At the same time, the mantle was able to cross class dynamics and blur social belonging, granting a halo of egalitarianism to its wearers, which was oppositional to the social stratification generated by European fashions. Because of this and besides its patent conventionalism the mantle was soon modernized, becoming a pledge for democracy, levelling all social classes. Thus, it became fashionable and one of the most fundamental symbols of national female beauty during Chile’s Belle Époque.
In consequence, middle- and upper-class women visited the photo studio and captured their faces wrapped in a dark costume that was nationalistic, religious and profane. Though the mantle was often associated with a certain level of traditional modesty, its wearing could also sometimes be considered profane, because after attending mass, women wrapped in a â€œrare coquetryâ€?, would flirt with their pololos (informal boyfriends) in their shopping endeavors through the city center. In this way, the sacred and the mundane were combined in its appreciations. The mantle was chaste, proper for the morning prayer and for mourning the dead. Moreover, its use induced anxious provocation on the opposite sex inspiring multiple romantic poems towards this ambivalent condition. The concealment incited male attraction, but this disguise also troubled them, as the mantle gave women the chance to hide in plain sight. The early years of the 20th century would bring upon the popularity of the mantle but also its banishment. The coexistence of an inorganic, and non-integrated modernization in Chile, where the modern and archaic overlapped, contributed to this complex juxtaposition of meanings and a gradual change surrounding the use of this unique piece of garment by Chilean women.(11)
* Endnotes located on page 86
a F Fin ew al of Fas M hi y F on r ie s & nd s
Th U atâ€™ sL R eft E W
Abigail BUZBEE is an apparel designer and visual artist in Fashion, living and working in Seattle, WA with her partner Ryan, a black cat named Melody, and her slowly dying family of plants (too busy to water them all!). She currently works on the womenswear design team at Nordstrom, and is a board member of Summer School Collective. Her personal practice revolves around fashion research, writing, and bridging the gap between clothing and other art forms. This takes shape as a clothing project called Novella, an annual-ish collection of clothing and an accompanying fashion magazine. Informed by the compact and pointed plot structure of the traditional novella, each collection and magazine attempts to weave a compelling narrative within the bounds of text and textiles. She is driven by the desire for a more inclusive dialog between fashion, art and the literary space, with the aim of bringing unique voices together to celebrate adornment and the printed word in its many forms.
e come into this world naked and without a care. By the timewe leave it, we’ve acquired a lifetime of cares, and, if we’ve done it right, a lifetime of clothes. Most people never give a thought to the fashions they don for that final (fatal) milestone on our journey from cradle to grave. After all, Fashion is an expression of life, of Self, so what does Fashion matter after the Self is gone? For the majority, our shrouds are chosen for us by friends and family, often hastily, during a difficult time of grief. Should this last opportunity to define oneself be given a little more thought, if only to spare those left behind the agonizing task of choosing what outfit we’d like to wear for all eternity? In a series of photographs and interviews, we asked four individuals to select an outfit for their inaugural journey into the unknown, in the hopes that they might provide insight into our shared views on death, personal style, legacy, and the importance of always looking our best, breath in our lungs or not.
After all, you only die once.
Gender Pronouns: He/Him Sign: Leo Age: 24 Graphic Designer In the spirit of celebrating a Life through Attire, please describe in detail your ideal final outfit for burial, including any jewelry or personal mementos you would like to carry with you: My final outfit is meant to be very flashy, loud, and expensive— an ensemble I did not get to enjoy very often due to professional constraints and the limits of general decency. It’s meant to be a Gucci suit that I pulled off a runway. It could be any one from the last three years. My aim is to go out with an overpriced bang, to celebrate life in a way I never got to live it. I will also be wearing a tiger’s eye ring and a brass ring right next to it on my pinky finger.
What factors played a part in choosing your final burial outfit, and why? (Examples: Physical, Environmental, Sartorial, Spiritual, etc) Please elaborate: Vanity played the most prominent role. That, and my love of entertaining. If I had complete and total control, my funeral would be colorful and there would be lots of lights and tasteful decor.
What do you think your sartorial choices say about you, your identity, and your priorities when it comes to apparel? People think I’m cool.
Is your final outfit representative of how you dress normally (most days)? If not, why? My final outfit is not
representative of how I usually dress. While I put a lot of thought into how I look, I would ultimately like to be buried in something very extravagant. If my body is to bedisplayed, intact, one last time, it’s going to be marvelous.
What do you wish to happen to the clothes What role does clothing play in your life? you will leave behind? I would like my As of the time of writing, clothing is my last remaining clothes to be spread out on a long table in a public park somewhere and given away. The trick is you would need to obtain a ticket in order to view the clothes, but the ticket would be free of charge.
source of confidence.
What role will clothing play in your burial? “Saving The Best for Last”
What role do you want clothing to play in your personal legacy? How do you want to be remembered?
Speaking in the past tense: clothing played a pivotal role in my personal legacy and is something I thoroughly enjoyed throughout my time here. I just don’t want to be remembered for it, strictly speaking.
Gender Pronouns: She/Her Sign: Taurus Age: 23 Business Development Director In the spirit of celebrating a Life through Attire, please describe in detail your ideal final outfit for burial, including any jewelry or personal mementos you would like to carry with you: My decided final attire is a black ribbed turtleneck sweater set with accompanying black cashmere cardigan around my shoulders, beige wide leg highwaisted pants with front darts, black leather Balenciaga derby oxfords, a braided brown leather belt, champagne tinted round sunglasses and three silver rings
What factors played a part in choosing your final burial outfit, and why? (Examples: Physical, Environmental, Sartorial, Spiritual, etc) Please elaborate: My choice could only ever be determined sartorially. Sentimentality associated with material possessions is never something I’ve felt and I don’t have any deep religious or spiritual beliefs. I wasn’t thinking about how hot I could look (I’ll be deceased for one and frankly find a sexy evening gown to be a bit unsettling and tacky for the occasion). Goal number one was to avoid that. I kept returning to the word “eternal” while reflecting on the prompt. Yes, this will be my last, final, eternal statement but when I think of the word “eternal” my mind goes to style. Fashion that is forever or considered classic. The most classically stylish people on earth are modern women with old money. I’m one hundred percent making this up but the sweater set was definitely invented by an effortlessly sophisticated east coast woman. With stakes this high I couldn’t pass up a solid menswear situation with classic silhouettes. It’s iconic, it’s me and it’s forever. What’s cooler than wearing sunglasses to the grave?
What do you think your sartorial choices say about you, your identity, and your priorities when it comes to apparel? The American dream is actually just to be thought of as cool, this concept
has followed me my entire life especially regarding fashion. When we’re young the easiest way to fit in and/or express ourselves is through clothing, it’s our strongest form of identity. Having been an overweight, vaguely Jewish, queer woman from a small town I was the literal antithesis of cool. I didn’t want to lose my identity, I didn’t know if I wanted to admit I was queer and I sure as shit didn’t want anyone to see my figure. For me the middle ground of those dilemmas was pants, specifically huge glorious oversized pants. I could be emulating icons like Katharine Hepburn, Diane Keaton and Princess Diana or just be fat; none would be the wiser. Menswear is still my go to fashion security blanket, oversized pants, blazers and “men’s” style shoes make me feel genuine. A lot of my signature styles stem from insecurities I tried to conquer. My priority for apparel used to be assimilation but has converted into authenticity and self-love.
Is your final outfit representative of how you dress normally (most days)? If not, why?
I would say so. Whenever I’m at a loss for what to wear I usually end up wearing some iteration of this outfit.
What do you wish to happen to the clothes you leave behind?
It would be very tragic for any of my clothing to be stored away or memorialized. Clothes can have lives and stories. I hope any life within them will continue by others wearing/ enjoying them. But if they have made their death rattle I would like my clothes to be turned into insulation and given to Habitat for Humanity. I support recycling and Jimmy Carter. What role does clothing play in your life? Clothing is a tool to prevent betraying my integrity. It can be as subtle as wearing a ring that says “FRIENDLY” on my left thumb (if you know, you know) or as obvious as wearing a suit and binder. Apparel is a way to make room for yourself even if others aren’t willing to give you space
What role will clothing play in your burial? Very minimal, I plan to be cremated.
Let me be seen for a few final moments by the mortician and then turn me into space dust. What role do you want clothing to play in your personal legacy? How do you want to be remembered?
I would love a “brand”, like an older woman and her staple lip color or an elderly man with his signature cologne. My brand will naturally be some sort of garment. Maybe a different Hermes scarf or Gucci loafer depending on the day of the week, one can dream. We constantly change and evolve, I’m sure my final decision will come with time. Maybe by then I’ll have a deeper philosophical answer to this question too.
Gender Pronouns: She/Her Sign: Leo Age: 26 Apparel Designer In the spirit of celebrating a Life through Attire, please describe in detail your ideal final outfit for burial, including any jewelry or personal mementos you would like to carry with you: I would like to have a natural burial, so no coffin, no synthetics that could harm the earth, just wrap me in organic cotton gauze and cover me with wildflowers. That said, I’ll probably look like a mummy at the time of my actual burial, but I’d still like to give my friends and family the chance to say goodbye to my body. Being from the American South, I would have a “Wake” for my loyal fans
to say a fond farewell to my lifeless body. For this occasion, I’d like to be wearing a suit made from the old, tattered quilt that my Mom has kept on her bed my entire life. It would be a simple jacket with bound edges and patch pockets, and a loose pant with a drawcord waist. I’d like leather flats on my feet, and the little ceramic Japanese cat in my jacket pocket that my partner and I gave each other when we first started dating. The cat was supposed to bring good luck and love to relationships. It’s worked pretty well I think.
What factors played a part in choosing your final burial outfit, and why? (Examples: Physical, Environmental, Sartorial, Spiritual, etc) Please elaborate: Physical
comfort and a sense of home informed my final outfit - I’m very sentimental when it comes to clothing and fabric-things, and that quilt has comforted me through so many sick days and scary nights when I saw shadows in my bedroom corner and Mom said, “just come sleep with me”. Sartorially speaking, I like the put-togetherness and elegance of a matching suit. Nothing makes me feel more powerful when I wear a head to toe look. It’s easy. You don’t have to think about it. Historically, I like the tradition and heritage of the quilt and its ability to carry memories and stories. I love it’s hodgepodge nature, and it’s capacity to take seemingly disparate elements and patch them into a unified whole, much like a life itself.
What do you think your sartorial choices say about you, your identity, and your priorities when it comes to apparel? I think my choice speaks to my strong connection with the
domestic world and the women that made it. I was homeschooled up until college and home was my whole world, for better or worse. I think my choice also speaks to a love of imperfect things and my need to preserve objects- we’ve almost thrown the quilt away a dozen times but I always kept it from the waste bin.
Is your final outfit representative of how you dress normally (most days)? If not, why?
I don’t have a patchwork quilt suit at the moment, but if somebody wants to make me one I’d wear it in a heartbeat...
What do you wish to happen to the clothes you leave behind?
My grandmothers didn’t always keep many things from the past, so I often would spend hours inside their closets, searching for old photographs or bedding, asking questions and piecing together the chain of events that led to me. I cherished anything I found, especially clothing. I’d love for my family to keep their favorite pieces from my wardrobe and pass them down, or even hopefully wear them! And if they can’t wear them, make some sort of art project with them? I don’t know. I put so much effort into collecting interesting garments I’d hope that one of my descendants would appreciate all that hard work! What role does clothing play in your life? This is a difficult question, because my relationship with clothing is so interwoven with who I am as a person. Clothing has not only been my mode of escape and personal expression, but also a way to find my people, a way to make a living, a way of displaying my body, and other times, a way of hiding my body. In my past, clothing has been a way to hide behind a mask, a mask that gave me power and agency over my insecurities. Clothing was the way I created fantasies and stories that turned me into something other than the “normal” girl I was. Currently, designing clothing is the way I pay my bills, and while the romance has somewhat worn off, I still never get tired of wearing and talking about clothes, and I try to find ways to reconnect myself with the magic that I found so enthralling as a child.
What role will clothing play in your burial? What role do you want clothing to play in I hope that clothing will not only provide a your personal legacy? How do you want to be welcoming space for my remains, but provide remembered? a sense of comfort to loved ones that are left behind. I’d like to look like I’m just taking a nap! the day of the week, one can dream. We constantly change and evolve, I’m sure my final decision will come with time. Maybe by then I’ll have a deeper philosophical answer to this question too.
I’d like people to think that I dressed daringly - startlingly enough to inspire other young people to let their freak flag fly a bit more often. I’m very prepared to dress like a middle aged art history teacher with a silver bob, arty glasses, and some sort of kooky pendant necklace hanging around my neck. I just want people to think I had really great taste. Is that bad?
In the spirit of celebrating a Life through Attire, please describe in detail your ideal final outfit for burial, including any jewelry or personal mementos you would like to carry with you:
I would like to be composted, so ideally I would be wearing biodegradable attirelike a dress made out of kombucha SCOBY (which I make at home, and drink every day, so that feels apt!) I would absolutely need a look that has a collar, interesting sleeves, a bodice that narrows to the natural waist, then either a full skirt or full pant legs. The only jewelry I wear is my wedding ring, and I would hope someone in my family would inherit that, so I do not plan to be buried with any jewelry or momentos.
What factors played a part in choosing your final burial outfit, and why? (Examples: Physical, Environmental, Sartorial, Spiritual, etc) Please elaborate:My burial attire is purely dependent on my means of earth-reintegration. I don’t want to be preserved in any way. I would like to return to dirt. So whatever I am wearing needs to travel with me on that journey.
What do you think your sartorial choices say about you, your identity, and your priorities when it comes to apparel? Though the body is an important vessel--a home for one’s
stay on earth--it is not definitive of my existence. I am soul and spirit, so once those are released, the work of my body ceases. The body is not autonomous, it can only be in service to something greater. Without soul, without spirit, the body is then under the charge of the earth itself--and the earth demands all things to decompose for the sake of rebirth. Whatever the shell of me, my body, is buried in, should work in partnership with the earth.
Is your final outfit representative of how you dress normally (most days)? If not, why?
In specifics of fit and framing, yes. In material, no, but that has been articulated above.
What do you wish to happen to the clothes you leave behind?
The clothing in my closet should be divided among my friends and loved ones who wish to take on anything I happen to own. Whatever they do not take should be sold or donated to a worthy cause.
What role does clothing play in your life? Clothing is categorized based on utility--
when am I wearing what and why? When riding my bike, working in my studio, lounging at home, the clothing I choose provides warmth, protection from the elements, mobility, full body coverage. This clothing is grungy, tough, sourced from my father’s closet, oversized but hits two specific marks: shirts with collars and pants with high waists. I feel most comfortable in a collar and high waist. When I am going to give a tour, when I am out with friends/family, at an art event, etc., I have a different selection of clothing to choose from. These garments are well kept, organized by color, a mix of eras, aesthetics, cuts, fits, and have been gathered over many years. This clothing is a means of creative expression, playful exploration, a study in color and pattern combination, subject to seasonal rotation (practically speaking), subject to personal trends, but ultimately, the same rules apply from one group of garments to the other: high collar, high waist.
What role will clothing play in your burial?
I don’t want to be remembered for the clothing that I wore, but instead, the clothing that I made within my life time--I want to be remembered as an innovator, who did not merely ‘break rules’ but instead, wrote new rules for a healthier, cleaner, less wasteful, more ethically ardent fashion industry.
Gender Pronouns: She/Her Age: 30 Artist
Pa th wa Fa ys sh Le io ad n t in o Fu g fr ne om ra ls Dr. Pia INTERLANDIâ€™s practice-led research uses the tools of fashion to address rituals and realities of dying, death, disposal and dispersion. She specialises in cocreating garments and death rituals for body care and dressing conducted by the family. A full-time lecturer in the School of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT University, Pia is a design studio leader and the coordinator of Material Studies within the Bachelor of Fashion, and in 2020 will teach into a new graduate certificate in Textile (Forensics). In 2014 Pia established the Natural Death Advocacy Network, a not-forprofit community organisation which provides information and hosts death literacy events for the public and professionals working in the end-of-life space. Pia is also an ambassador for Dying2Know Day and is a member of the Order of the Good Death.
t’s been over a decade since I started my career in Fashion and Death, but upon reflecting on the journey, I can see that the path was reasonably straightforward, even obvious at times. Nevertheless, it is peculiar that someone whose job, in most people’s eyes, is to ‘make frocks’ has ended up with a fashion practice in the funeral industry. Throughout my career I have dressed more than onehundred and fifty dead people, including three of my grandparents. I’ve been waist-deep in graves undressing and recovering dead pigs, separating animal tissue and soil from fabric. Helped people choose their own burial plots, and upon their death dress and encoffin their bodies. Dressed the skeleton of a young man who was found five years after going missing so that his family could bid farewell to the physical form they longed to hold again. Made casts of a deceased child’s hands and feet, all while balancing applying a product with a four-minute working time, appropriately handling the dead and sensitively engaging in conversation with parents experiencing the most emotional agony of their lives. I’ve spoken on panels alongside cemetery trust executives on the future of natural burial in Australia. Demonstrated how to ‘dress the dead’ to audiences around the world. And in 2017 I was commissioned to reimagine the Little Black Dress for MoMA’s first fashion exhibition in 60 years, ‘Items: Is Fashion Modern?’. The line-up: Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, Charles Creed, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Arnold Scaasi, Thierry Mugler, Gianni Versace, Phillippe Stark, Jessica Rosenkrantz +Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, Rick Owens, and me…Pia Interlandi. The legitimacy of fashion within the ‘death field’, and conversely death within the ‘fashion discipline’ has been questioned. Yet traversing the two has allowed me to advocate for the field of fashion, becoming a defender against the perception that fashion is ‘frivolous’, whilst simultaneously campaigning for family-led death care and the death-positive movement.(1) I work with the terminally ill and their families to create the garment in which we will dress their body after they have died. The garment is simultaneously a piece of fashion and a tool used to (ad)dress death. It is through fashion I have been able to bring about a conversation that most people recoil from, but one which needs to be had by all: how to handle the dying, death and disposal of not only someone they love, but themselves. The explicit, tacit and transferable tools of the fashion designer can be applied to fields seemingly disconnected from that of fashion. An academic understanding of fashion, places it as a broadly constructed human phenomenon, and far larger than the reductive realm of clothing. Understanding the breath of the discipline, sociologist Herbert Blumer insightfully noted, fashion “even touches such a relative sacred area as that of mortuary practice”.(2) While his observation was in the larger, more holistic, context of fashion as emerging societal patterns and trends, my research interrogates this context much more literally. While pursuing my undergraduate degree in Fashion Design at Melbourne’s RMIT University, I froze garments in blocks of ice before taking a hammer to them to see if they would snap. I poured resin over draped garments to make them rigid. I de-natured synthetic fibres with heat, leaving them with the appearance of decay and explored fabrications that disintegrate and dissolve when sprayed with water. I studied the art of autopsy and dissection and then applied its principles to garments, inserting incisions through which the inner organs and skeleton could be revealed as garments peeled back on the catwalk.
T h ro u g h s in xploration , fragility, these e hemerality ay, I realized ation, ep rm o sf of dec n a tr d bodies. aesthetics e th d n a rments an nd bodies a n g o f ti o lu y so lit dis morta es beyo interest in n examining cloth d by psyI had an a g ork posite clothes is e w b e I m D a h fr P e y th m g n nctio of es, usin Through ological. primary fu ond cloth e y th e b in s re ie the psych e d h d w n a l, l e a g c and bo lü si F hy garments John Carl ainst the p ries of dissolvable choanalyst rotection, both ag ompared se clothes c iterative sp f a n o a d nts ty d se ili u te g a e a to b the fr my garme o ct I cre skin and bserving first proje d O to n y . s o d m c ie r te d se o c o F a b te (3) g as ey pro r own landred clothin g that ou bodies th lo l e in p a w th x rt o e o s n t e k m a m th nd beco lk and lnerable a eds as the catwa ed when the body to the vu soil and se ath e end of n m th io o t fr st a e s s u ld q le lve, I dy mou form, de as pudd and disso I grew bo ness and y t a ss c c le je e d atter ro rm p ld fo wou d PhD “dirt is m tween my secon rves that ments be ce o In se la b m . p o l e a g p h a in in ic sc the lim er, wh the start g in s n a a n w o D , ti d m re ra n o ty a d befo ved fr an explo uglas’ Puri s that live ver, remo . Mary Do soil, made of thing ere, howe w as cons w e c I . ie and birth e p nd that uld incit ulptural a o sc ,” w e d s c hD. n ie la u d p o y root b out of ar of m P osing bo e.(4) These that real decomp second ye d lif e n th a w e ll in n fa r e fo ust had a at cam rs of disg ndfather, death. Th ra l , g a l ry re a e t the elicito rg rn o n te su n pa ered eath, but o, my Italia the family consid d he sidering d my Nonn s A an 9 , 0 l. d a 0 e it 2 c u y sp Earl ntly red n in ho a io c it ifi d n n g o si c e s his ey s serious ate wa was in a ommunic ed that c c ti o to n y I it . c able capa his face. Nonno’s uncomfort ash d w n a to d lf se se my onfu seemed c , so I took it upon d the n man an cky lia ta a d It e l a m n e se itio and d a in tr a p him as a all ily; to see Nonno w m sm fa e r th u o t of ing, bu ss e tr st patriarch is o d m s e of th ty wa s was one vulnerabili e . y e im h is h h g it shin r had w e v e act of wa I s e e alliativ exchang ed into p intimate was mov e d. h ie r d e ft d a a Shortly hours h 4 2 in h it w care and
n’t death was At 89 his a shock. ill st ut it was b g, n exclusively si ri surp s almost er n ig es d d, was a ion e other han th Most fash een n o I, ships betw ing bodies. the relation Nonin cater to liv y d m te es ss inv ed to dre ner ig er ff es o d Feet I n . n io S fash betwee HBO’s ix th, and in watcher of death t ea f d ea o , p n s re io es a n sh fa neral. As t the still u fu b is t, h r r eyes. ec u p fo o ont of y hat to ex fr no’s body w in ew t n gh k ri I ought e before. until it is Under, I th I had don g ’t imagine in an ss c re u d o y g be flipped like any is somethin ents had to on was un rm es ga th s and at lo c th al position meant Putting his into unusu f his body d o sleeve te is ty la h u ili b ip o gh m throu cket man The imm ar ja y d m om an t ed ir fe d n, sh his bo y fr . I had to upside dow then shift into a d er his head d v an o an , d o gh lle rs u u p to ver his ide it thro o gu awkwardly ts alise en to re I d rm id his han n the ga e cuff d and grasp rge to pull dow hand came through th la er o th to o e an er lothes w c one side to t. It was only after his d s te c es c le fi d the ex dy. His se presentable of his life an l is dead bo rs h ta n ea g y zo in ri h st o c la h u e to his ght in the u ei d I’d been to w es cult, st c lo la iffi p d rong cally he had given that in all the w ressing him was physi e onto p ra es d o sh ed d is leather h fabric creat heavy and re as v w in my eu e o H to man rystallised positioning. came time peration c o it n him? e o en th h es f w o o t bu totality putting sh e w e th e ere. , er et w fe y his ing an wh mind. Why to be walk e g th in go to ’t n n o He was an aversi ad h I as at w th It was not in; rather, it ere dressed him e shoes w clothes we th th. thes and lo ea c d e r th fo t that and no e, lif r fo designed
That is to say, that the intended form and function of the garments were not relevant to the body that they now clothed. Though I was performing a final act of care and dressing my Nonno, the designer in me was already thinking about how it could be done better. Afterall, these were the garments that were literally and symbolically carry him into the afterlife. The experience of dressing him proved both profound in its catharsis and in the simplicity of the act of dressing as ritual. I was privileged to take up the task of dressing the man who had known me longer than I’d known myself, who had lived for eighty-nine years, fathered my father and was the source of life for half of my family. He was strong, stubborn and traditional, but had died in a hospital gown, weak and fragile and stripped of many of the qualities I had known in him. By clothing him, I was able to restore some of those qualities through his garments, reinstating these traits through the simple act of dressing, a process he was no longer able to do for himself. It was a gift to be able to do this, and I questioned (out loud) why more people didn’t dress their dead.
Four months later when my Nonno’s sister, my great-aunt, died at 94, I was asked to come facilitate her daughters and granddaughter through the process. While the experience had some significant differences and challenges, (mainly that the funeral director pointed at the mortuary fridge and then left the room, and later that we were dressing her in nylon tights), I was able to navigate her family through the dressing and emerge on the other side, each of us immensely proud for having dressed her for the final time. It was their gratitude towards me which felt embarrassing at the time, but I’ve come to realise that having someone to facilitate and reassure them along the way was essential for scaffolding the process enabling the same sense of transformation I had. The final project of my PhD was ‘The Pig Project’ – a name that stuck more than the technical ‘Fiber Decomposition Within The Context of Natural Burial’, and one which plunged me into the visceral and emotional realities of death and decomposition. I created easy-to-dress burial garments with three different fiber chemical groups (protein, cellulose and synthetic) to establish the rate at which they would disintegrate alongside a body. The idea that the fibres of our clothes would outlast our own bodies played in my mind each time I encountered polyester or nylon in my previous human dressings. Anatomy laws within Australia restricted the use of human bodies, so pigs were used instead. I washed, named and dressed each pig and then buried them each with a letter of gratitude. Every fifty days I would dig up one group of pigs and recover the garments. Unlike my previous metaphorical work, this was as real, and through this my work was legitimised within the funeral industry. I had gotten my hands dirty and now had ‘skin in the game’. Prior to the completion of my doctorate I was asked to join a team in the United Kingdom who were opening a thirty-one acre, natural burial ground. I finished my writing from a bungalow in Surrey, and two weeks later started working at Clandon Wood Natural Burial
Reserve. At the end of our first year we had 100 funerals and were the recipient of the ‘Best Natural Burial Ground’ in the UK at the Good Funeral Awards.I returned to Australia at the end of 2013 to be able to offer the same type of service, personalisation, attention to detail and genuine care being provided in the UK to my own family, friends and community.
Nonna, my final grandparent, and the one I was closest to, died while I was in the plane flying from London to Melbourne. When I got home, I found a funeral director who would let me do as much as I was able to, which included picking her body up from the hospital, washing her and laying her out. I then designed and made her burial garment, the first I had made since my PhD prototypes. I combined her favorite dress with the black silk she had requested when she was alive. As a family we dressed her. We knew which set of rosary beads to place in her hands, which perfume to spray, what lipstick colour to put on her, which photographs to place with her, and what music to play in the background. At the funeral we knew which prayers would be read, which photo would be used on the order or service, which flowers would go on her coffin, and which version of ‘Ave Maria’ would be played. In the years since Nonno had died, she told us, because one of her more peculiar granddaughters, a fashion designer, had asked “What will you wear when you die?”
* Endnotes located on page 86
What Will You Wear to the Other Side?
What you wear on your deathbed not only expresses your views of the afterlife and the value placed in your physical presence on Earth but also how you wish to appear to others. Dressing a corpse is an absurd idea from the outset, but has been done for millenia and continues to be done to this day. Why do we feel it valuable to look good once dead? The following are two examples of groups that considered their ‘deathbed looks’, or were remembered for them, at various times throughout history.
The Heaven’s Gate Cult: The exclusive Death ‘Fit for Heaven’s Gate cult members has made a seamless transition into the hipster fashion scene. The Heaven’s Gate look is akin to an ideal outfit worn by most ‘dudes at art openings’ and others in this orbit. A timeless look for a timeless existence, be it in a Bushwick storefront gallery or aboard an alien spaceship trailing the Hale-Bopp Comet. All 39 members were dressed in a black shirt, matching black sweatpants, armbands reading “Heaven’s Gate Away Team” and black and white Nike Decades.
Mormon Temple Garments: Adding to the long list of clandestine rituals and activities of the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints is the coveted Temple Garments aka Mormon Underwear. To those not in the know, these may look like they came in a threepack from JCPenny. However, one can only receive Temple Garments by paying a temple endowment and reaching appropriate levels within the church. The Mormon Underwear is worn underneath Temple Clothing which are also worn during burial and are every bit as white, cotton and Holy as the undergarments. Women wear Temple Garments underneath a long-sleeved, floorlength white dress (or blouse and skirt), white stockings, and white shoes while men don Temple Garments underneath a white long-sleeved shirt, white pants, a white tie, and white socks and shoes.
Jordan JOHNSON was born and raised in Houston, TX. He graduated from Kansas City Art Institute with a major in sculpture and creative writing. He has been living and working in Brooklyn for the last 8 years and is the creator of the clothing line Everyday Shaman.
Re of pr Tra es d en iti ta on tio al ns M in ou Ch rn in ing es e R Ga itu rm als en fo ts r t an he d De Its pa C rte oll d ec t ive
Figure 1. Red cotton mourning pin, authorâ€™s own.
Tess EU is an undergraduate student in the BA (Hons) Fashion Media and Industries programme at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. She is currently working on her graduate thesis and project on the future of mourning garments in ethnically Chinese Singaporean funerals regarding its changing representations, general acceptance and sustainability factors among millennials.
The Chinese subscribe to a syncretism of ‘Three Teachings’ which are the three main religious traditions of Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism.(1) The belief that every existence has a right place and time in the order of things runs deep, and familial loss represents a tilt in this divinatory cosmic harmony.(2) Death rituals or funerals are thus performed to contain chaos and mend tears in the social fabric; where dress artefacts such as grave clothes, mourning garments, and immanent objects of both the living and the dead are utilized to aid the process. James Gleick’s explanation of chaos attests to this cosmic disruption. He describes the absence of a life as, “internal acceleration of the external (environmental) information” wherein the living shoulder through rituals to “control the perturbations that spread everywhere,” this manifests as a form of “death pollution” in the structure of the community.(3) Using Gleick’s theory as a framework, this essay examines the sociocultural relationship between death and traditional mourning garments in ethnically Chinese Singaporean rituals for the departed. Funerals are birth beds for collective representations derived from a collection of codified signs, which aggregate from products of group participation and habit, otherwise known as culture. Dress artefacts function as a “medium through which values, ideas and criteria of social distinction are reproduced, legitimated or transformed to also distinguish between the deceased”.(4) All of these manifestations are taken advantage of through ancestral veneration. Through the involvement of mourning garments that contain codes enrooted in the ideology of collective kinship and ancestral relations. Chinese death rituals have a three-pronged approach: legitimation of the social order, establishment of authority structure and revivification of symbolic exchange. Firstly, funerals serve as a social tool to enable legitimation of the social order. Funeral organization explicitly states to outsiders of the family’s capability to come together as one and conquer death together. It is also a matter of maintaining their reputation and social standing compared to outsiders in a period of vulnerability. Secondly, deaths cause a shift in authority structure and inheritance. Simply put, the deceased is installed as an ancestor - living on in the collective memories of their kin - while the eldest descendant takes up the once occupied role, both of which are rites of passage when transference of new social identities take place. Thirdly, there is no end to the contractual relationship between the living and dead, this is emphasized though revivification present in Chinese death rituals. Symbolic exchange between the two parties is seen in the routine practice of death rituals which reinforces the community’s consciousness and awareness of their obligation to the dead. Dress as communication is context-bound to the culture it is in, where the medium is the message that conveys pre-existing symbolic systems.(5) For the Chinese this system is centripetal and hierarchical in nature, which the community highly respects and strictly adheres to.(6) The mourning dress typically consists of several standard components: headpiece, inner set of white garments, coarse overcoat, pin, belt sash, and footwear. This adopted 汉服 han fu form of traditional clothing reflects Confucian ideals of filial piety, humaneness (or compassion) and rituals. The iterations of dress vary across time, dialect groups and religious beliefs.
From oral history interviews there is a general consensus that the main purpose of mourning garments is social indication. Only family members within 五代 wu dai (five generations) are granted the “privilege and obligation to wear” them. (7) Although ‘garment’ implies that it is gender neutral, they are anything but. Sons are favored among Chinese for posterity reasons, a clear indication of the family’s propensity for continuity. Thus, mourning garments go in accordance to two primary parameters within the family unit: sex and status. This is with regard to genealogical distance between the mourner and the deceased, known as 等 deng (grade). Altogether, there are up to 五等 wu deng (five grades). Direct descendants (excluding daughters) are first grade mourners. Daughters-in-law are considered direct descendants since they have taken on a new surname and are expected to adopt the same roles. Henceforth, children, being the second generation, are second grade, and so on. They take a subordinate role to the first generation in mourning practices and rituals.
Figure 2. Overcoat for males, made from 麻布 ma bu (burlap cloth), author’s own.
Moreover, families belonging to the same dialect group can have different mourning pins if they hold either Daoist or Buddhist beliefs. These colored mourning pins (Figure 1) are called 孝 xiao and correspond to the respective mourning grades which also indicate status. They are generally worn for 49 or 100 days and are pinned on the right shirtsleeve if the deceased is male and on the left if the deceased is female.(8) Mourning garments therefore, “transform bodies into recognizable and meaningful entities acceptable within specific contexts”.(9) These identity markers for wearers enable them to take on specific duties and roles during the ritual. Garments not only communicate identity, but also an ideal look. Coarse garments (Figure 2) were worn to “signify they were too sad to bother with appearances and personal comfort,” and are regarded as poignant expressions of grief and loss.(10) The expression 批麻戴孝 pi ma dai xiao describes the process of donning mourning garments as the descendants’ obligation to show respect and filial piety towards the deceased. This act has immediate influence on the
wearer’s emotions and actions, which creates potential for the wearer to affect others and be affected by their dress.(11) The garments’ aesthetic element further helps to form an embodied relationship that renders the participants’ visible form of intentions both intimately and publicly, for bereavement to occur individually or communally.(12) Intimately, it reflects expressions of honor and sorrowful affection. Publicly, it is “a distinctive uniform that without doubt declares who belongs and who does not” which “signals group loyalty”.(13) Hence, mourning garments are markers to visitors; on which physical body has been assigned by the social body on what kinship role to express the proper forms of bereavement. As such, it is an opposite way to demonstrate “an individual’s sense of self” derived from “the actions that individuals engage in, actions that cannot be deduced from a knowledge of the products with which they may be associated”.(14) The central idea of funerals cannot be fully understood only by looking at the latent functions of mourning dress, but by how it informs the participants’ emotions, thoughts and movements. For mourners, it becomes a physical boundary of sorts, between them and outsiders. In conclusion, dress artefacts in Chinese funerals are more than simple physicality. As stated by Yuniya Kawamura, “any objects and practices, even the most utilitarian, function in the same way and are endowed with secondorder meaning by social usage”.(15) They are tools for the performing bodies to communicate intimate expressions and give meanings and identities acceptable for public presentation.Above all, it is a signifier of their current state of public identity and group participation, worn as an outer skin.
* Endnotes located on page 86
at h De y& rit Ce leb Billie CLARKEN is based in Berlin. Billie is a multidisciplinary artist whose work meditates an entire cultureâ€™s continuing attraction to spectacle over lived experience. Integrating celebrity iconology, film props, and synthetic materials, Clarken continues to reveal the dissection of decentered television reality, and the absurdity of what amounts to a collective fantasized identity.
CEL E BRIT Y IS T H E DENIAL OF DE AT H A widescreen frame is interrupted. The digger swiftly walks towards their shallow hole with a stiff body under their arm. Her pink edges brush past the overgrown grass as the digger struggles to remain unseen by the looming patrols. The digsite is an unassuming plot nestled between unpaved service roads winding between black tarp barriers, and freshly planted rows of trees standing in the near distance. The only thing that protects them from being noticed is the small graveyard that shares a fence with the private grounds. As if it were her last sighing breath, she gently flops back into the upturned earth. Her final moment of rest is interrupted by empty echoes of soil smacking her bare skin. This is not the first time she’s been buried alive. Above her, the digger pauses at the top of the sloppily filled grave, looks into the camera, and exits stage left. In 2014 I acquired one of Jennifer Lawrence’s private photographs. It is one of 500 other leaked celebrity nudes, released in the biggest and first iCloud hack to date- infamously named “The Fappening”. In a time where cameras had never been more available, these images were haphazardly synced, hacked, and copied. It is a crime where the victim’s images will continue to be abused, and circulate the internet until they become so saturated with edits that the “authentic” will eventually dissolve. A larger than life polyurethane body is erected to fully realize the physical and sometimes involuntary commodification of self. The secret recorded burial on the Maiden, North Carolina iCloud Data Center property attempts to put her to rest at the origin of exploitation. But this does not grant her peace. Her body will not rot, but like ripped pixels she will slowly spread until all traces of the original image are lost. This decomposition will form new opportunities to recontextualize and question her truth. The status of celebrity grants one the denial of death; an endless resurrection and newly written script.
aP Se l ve a n
José Guadalupe Posada Chaos during an earthquake ca. 1880–1910
Maegan STRACY is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Fashion Studies at Parsons and she holds a BFA in Fiber and Art History from the Kansas City Art Institute. Stracy has worked in fashion production for non-gendered denim brand 69, gallery curation and higher education and she has also developed her own line of custom ‘slow-fashion’ pieces. Stracy’s current thesis research examines how women are interpreted and mediated in tabloids and news publications based on the clothing they wear.
The collapse of the Bangladeshi factory building, Rana Plaza in 2013 is marked
as the deadliest factory disaster in global history, with over 1134 fatalities and 2500 injuries.(1) The rampant labor violations at Rana Plaza were shocking to the general public, however conditions at Rana Plaza are not uncommon. Due to the lack of regulations in the area, the building, which was not built for industrial use, had four floors added to the original structure, constructed without permits in an effort to increase real estate for production. As the foundation was substandard, walls began to crack, some visible the day before the collapse, but workers were forced to continue despite safety risks. After the disaster, consumers, activists and media outlets called for regulatory changes and accountability from multinational corporations, but have any of the changes implemented after Rana Plaza had a lasting effect?Over the last thirty years, Bangladesh has become a lucrative site for garment manufacturing, second only in production to China. As cost of labor and materials in China continue to increase, Bangladesh maintains some of the lowest labor costs where garment workers make around $70 a month. (2,3) These low costs have attracted clothing brands from all markets, leading to exponential growth with over 5,000 factories employing over a million laborers.(4) The expansion of global capitalism has contributed to creating ecological debt all over the world and developing nations like Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable. This debt is accrued when countries relocate manufacturing many times over to poorer countries with cheap labor, valuable natural and material resources, engaging in a form of labor tourism. To reconcile an increased demand for inexpensive clothing, corporations have escalated pressure to produce higher quantities at a faster rate. Compounded by massive economic gains in the area, rudimentary safety standards and reduced government interference, working conditions are unhealthy, dangerous and sometimes fatal.(5) Nearly 85 percent of the factory workers in the Bangladeshi garment industry are women.(6) Many women are forced to move out of rural communities because of job scarcity and the effects of climate change, as an increase in floods, droughts, storms and erosion continue to minimize access to food and deplete local resources. Rising sea levels have displaced entire communities forcing them inland to bigger cities like Dhaka where the largest industry is garment manufacturing.(7) Migrant women are most vulnerable to the injustices in the garment industry as workers are desperate to find financial stability
increasing the risk of exploitation. (8) In Dhaka, an entire population of climate-affected people are reliant on foreign investment to eek out wages while working in an environment that exponentially increases exposure to toxic chemicals and other workplace hazards like rampant sexual harassment and intimidation. After the collapse of Rana Plaza, consumers and media outlets demanded accountability from brands patronizing the factory. However due to convoluted supply chains and a series of third party contracts, it has been easy for multinational corporations to claim ignorance. Within this system contractors portion out jobs to other factories, dividing up the workload several times over to meet tight deadlines. This distance between the contracting company and subcontracted manufacturers allow room for brands to deny accountability, even though companies have the capability to demand transparency within their own production chain.(9)
After the Rana Plaza disaster, fashion brands and the Bangladeshi government planned cooperative efforts to instill procedural justice as a way to lift some of the burdens off of the vulnerable factory workers.(10) In July 2013, a labor law allowing workers to form unions was passed. Thirty-five structurally dangerous buildings were closed, unions within the industry tripled and the minimum wage increased.(11) As a response to public outcry, there was international pressure for companies to sign the Bangladesh Fire Building and Safety Accord, a five-year legally binding contract that would prevent factories who did not meet basic safety standards from gaining contract jobs from Accord affiliated companies. The Accord implemented regular factory inspections, training programs and corrective action plans all overseen by third party observers, eliminating the possibility of corporate or government interest to supersede labor safety.(12) The Accord was endorsed by non profits and labor watch organizations including, the Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Movement and the UNI Global Union, and signed by over 200 companies including H&M, Inditex, parent company of Zara, and PVH, the conglomerate that owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.(13) The Accord collaborated with local union organizations to execute safety monitoring processes and educate workers on their rights, making significant advancements in safer work environments while giving workers the right to refuse work if the conditions were deemed too dangerous. Since 2013, the Accord has identified more than 100,000 building, electrical and fire hazards, many of which have been rectified and over 2 million workers have participated in safety training in over 1000 factories.(14) Despite these improvements, there is still plenty of work to be done; over 50% of factories still lack adequate fire alarm systems and 40% are continuing to complete structural renovations. Additionally, factories could choose to abstain from participating in the Accord, which shut off protections to thousands of laborers working at the non-Accord factories.(15) Twenty-eight companies including, The Gap, Target and VF Brands, parent company of North Face, refused to sign, forming a voluntary, legally non-binding organization called the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which promotes a ‘long-term, permanent safety-monitoring program.’ The Alliance assisted with the installation of sprinkler systems, fire doors and handrails in factories, but denies the inclusion of trade union and third-party observations.(16) Even with all of these advancements, systematic issues have not been remedied. Only 5% of garment workers are unionized and after mandated wage increases, 40% of factories were still paying below minimum wage. Organizations like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which has established sustainability measuring tools like the Higg Index, to promote ethical and eco-friendly production practices, comprised of companies like Walmart, Gap and Nike, all of which do not have standardized sustainable and ethical production policies in place.(17) Companies continue to promote their affiliations with programs like these, appealing to their customer’s values while avoiding the work required to implement real change. Both the Alliance and Accord lean on factory audits as a way to maintain ethical standards, but this system comes with complications. Most companies are not willing to spend money on inspections, which can be costly if done correctly. Auditors are encouraged to rush through an inspection, sometimes spending only a few hours at factories that employ upwards of 1000 people. After Rana Plaza factory inspectors were in demand, time constraints – some inspectors trained for a few days compared to the standard three years – limited
an inspectorâ€™s ability to spot infractions or tailor their methods to benefit worker needs.(18) Even if inspectors rigorously check for violations, managers take advantage of advanced inspection notices by telling underage workers not to show up, clearing out blocked exits before the inspector arrives and directing worker testimonials. The Bangladesh Fire Building and Safety Accord and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety were only five-year contracts, both expired in May of 2018. The Alliance dissolved in 2018, without any indication they will reconvene, while a three-year extension has been proposed for the Accord.(20) A percentage of the companies that signed the first Accord have refused to extend their commitment and by end of 2018, the Accord was under attack by the Bangladeshi government. In an attempt to halt the independent operation of the Accord, the government appealed to the Supreme Court to impose constraints, prohibiting Accord inspectors from direct communication with workers which would impede their ability to identify new safety violations like faulty alarm systems, blocked fire exits and foundational cracks.(21) After numerous stalled discussions, in 2019 a resolution was reached between the Accord and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association called the â€˜Memorandum of Understanding.â€™ The efficacy of this new resolution has yet to be seen.(22) Even as regulatory provisions have been introduced, the government has failed to provide complete protection for union organizers.(23) Managers are backsliding and defense tools that were in place immediately after Rana Plaza are quickly falling away. Unionized workers still report incidents of violence and some have been jailed for their advocacy efforts. Even with the increased minimum wage, covering basic expenses are still out of reach for many
industry workers as cost of living is high compared to earned wages. Taking a pledge or signing the Accord is relatively easy change for brands to make, but these companies can do more to advance change. The Works Rights Consortium has estimated it would cost up to $3 billion over the next five years to upgrade Bangladeshi factories, continuing the changes originally implemented by the Accord, but would also include more advanced changes like ventilation systems and ecologically conscious disposal methods. This overhaul is an expensive advancement, but by dividing the costs between multinational corporations, production costs would only increase by 3%. Considering that production is only a percentage of the cost of a garment, these would only increase the overall cost of a garment by a few cents.(24) As brands continue to obscure their production processes, the distance between consumer and
producers allows for labor violations to persist. The only way to move forward to a more sustainable and ethically minded production process is to increase transparency giving consumers insight into how garments are produced and forcing companies to take ownership over their productionprocesses. More radical shifts, like scaling back production to minimize emissions, factory runoff and textile waste would provide more ecologically sound environments for laborers. As consumers, we can continue to advocate for worker rights by supporting organizations like The Clean Clothes Campaign, The Solidarity Center and Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity and by minimizing our dependency on these brands.
1. Anna Plowman, “Bangladesh’s Disaster Capitalism,” Jacobin, January 22, 2016. 2. Recently increased from $38 in 2013 after workers protested conditions post-Rana Plaza.
3. Darby Minow Smith, “Fashion isn’t frivolous – it’s a Matter of Life and Death.” Grist. May 10, 2013. 4. Julfikar Ali Manik and Jim Yardley, “Building Collapse in Bangladesh Leaves Scores Dead,” The New York Times, April 24, 2013. 5. Julfikar Ali Manik and Jim Yardley, “Building Collapse in Bangladesh Leaves Scores Dead.” 6. Lauren Sherman, “Improving
the Life of A Bangladeshi Garment Worker: activist Kalpona Akter,” Business of Fashion, November 29, 2018.
Robert Glennon, “The Unfolding Tragedy of Climate Change in
Bangladesh,” Scientific American, April 21, 2017. Capitalism.”
8. Anna Plowman, “Bangladesh’s Disaster
9. Michael Hobbes, “The Myth of the Ethical Shopper,” The Huffington Post,
July 15, 2015 10. Adrian Martin, “Global Environmental In/justice, in Practice” Introduction,” The Geographical Journal vol. 179 no. 2 (2013): 98-99.
11. Anna Plowman, “Bangladesh’s
Disaster Capitalism.” 12. Ibid. 13. Clean Clothes Campaign, “CCC Welcomes H&M and Inditex Decision to Sign Legally Binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.” Clean Clothes Campaign. May 13, 2013. 14. Industriall, UNI, CC ILRF, MSN & WRC, “Bangladesh Government Attempts to Paralyze Accord and Strip its Independence,” International Labor Rights Forum. December 10, 2018. 15. Michelle Chen, “$1000 for A Dead Family Member – Is that Justice for Bangladesh’s Garment Workers?” The Nation, June 3, 2015. 16. Sherman, “Improving the Life of A Bangladeshi Garment Worker.” 17. Stephanie Clifford, “Some Retailers Say More About Their Clothing’s Origins,” The New York Times, May 8, 2013. 18. A common misstep for new inspectors, is interviewing workers on the factory floor where there is less freedom for workers to be candid. 19. Stephanie Clifford and Steven Greenhouse, “Fast and Flawed Inspections of Factories Abroad,” The
20. Dana Thomas, “Why Won’t We Learn from the Survivors of the Rana Plaza Disaster?” The New York Times, April 24, 2018. 21. Industriall, New York Times, September 1, 2013.
et al., “Bangladesh Government Attempts to Paralyze Accord and Strip its Independence.”
Clean Clothes Campaign, “Protect Progress – The Bangladesh Accord,” Clean
Clothes Campaign, Accessed February 11, 2020. 23. “Bangladesh: 5 Years On, No Justice for Aminul Islam.”
Mitchell, “Bangladesh Fire Shows Why We Can’t Trust Walmart.”
r e a r m o u F s s n s o e C r D New w Ne Lorena PÉREZ is a journalist specialized in Digital Journalism by Universidad de San Andrés and Universidad Nacional de San Martín. Lorena is the founder of Blocdemoda.com, a pioneer site of fashion culture and her work has been published in La Nación, El Cronista, GQ, Cosmopolitan and Viva magazine. Her first book about fashion and design argentine will be published by Editorial Planeta in 2020. Lorena is part of the academic research team and professor at Palermo University.
Each era in fashion is determined by the dominant values and customs of a
society. In contemporary society, fast fashion has manifested as a celebration of excessive consumption and has succeeded through the proliferation of fashion imagery selling the latest must-have trends. The collapse of the Rana Plaza building forced fast fashion production into the public eye and signaled the death of excessive and carefree consumption. With a renewed focus on workers’ rights, a question has been raised: do you know who makes your clothes? Concurrently, technology transformed consumption habits and our ways of communicating. The product alone no longer motivates the purchase but the message behind that product. The dress as a gesture of social recognition gives rise to a dress that with other interpretation.(1) There is now a greater need for clothing that protects the planet and is fair in the conditions in which it was produced. It is the birth of a new order and marks a transition from fashion to an expanded cultural form. Three Argentinean designers with international profiles, Daniela Sartori, Lucia Chain and Romina Cardillo, built their business plans based on the new system: slow fashion. Since 2011, Daniela Sartori has been releasing womenswear collections that criticized fast fashion. She thinks of the garment as an object that has to last as long as possible, is timeless and is not discarded. She worked according to the copyleft rules to democratize her designs. From the Spring 1.Susana Saulquin, La muerte de la moda, el día después. (Barcelona: Paidós. 2010) 25.
“Buyers must understand that the notion of the old no longer exists. They are paradigms that must be set aside. It is not possible that in the middle of the productive chain there is a person who is abusing the right of another, because there is already a visibility that shows suffering. People realized that there are people who are living something that is not fair. That is a huge awareness opening”.(2) Lucía Chain began designing with a focus on sustainability in 2014, one year after Rana Plaza, when eco-friendly efforts became unavoidable in fashion. Chain’s designs are made by hand in their little studio, in Bernal, great Buenos Aires, with raw local fabrics and organic dyes. In an interview I conducted with the designer in 2019, Chain stated “new designers are already born with sustainable projects, or at least they try. […] Fashion needs to communicate much about what we do, what is right and what is wrong, so that the public can rethink how to consume.” Chain began her work in fashion knowing how she wanted to communicate through clothes, she continued, “it is key to understand what one wants to do and from there design to open up to the possibilities.” Lucia Chain took the competition as an opportunity to promote her genderless label. This was the case when Chain presented at fashion weeks in England, Russia, Netherlands, Italy, France, Finland, Germany, Uruguay, Chile, United States, Costa Rica, and Japan. Along with fellow Argentinian designer Romina Cardillo, Chain and Cardillo were chosen to exhibit their pieces in “Sustainable Things,” the exhibition that celebrates sustainability in art and fashion at the Ferragamo Museum in Florence, Italy from December 2019 through April 2020. Romina Cardillo began her career at María Vázquez, the family textile company. In 2007, she launched the menswear project called “Grupo 134” which was the first vegan brand in Argentina. In 2014, Romina begin Nous Etudions, a brand sustainability and genderless clothing defined by minimalism, textile developments and oversized silhouettes. In 2017, Nous Etudions was chosen as a New Talent by Sara Maino. In 2018, she presented a new collection at London Fashion Week’s “Fashion Scout: ones to watch” and Pitti Uomo. In 2019 Nous was presented in 080 Barcelona and Designers Buenos Aires. Last February, Nous Etudions by Romina Cardillo was elected semifinalist to compete for the LVMH prize 2020. About her project, Cardillo explained: “as a designer, my work is visible to everyone and my mistakes too. I was evolving, trying to inform and change my projects. I began to take action regarding my production process as a form of identity”.(3) For Cardillo, the business plan that works is through capsule collections, working with advance orders and focusing on a showroom to work directly with consumer demand. This work methodology ensures that zero stock is overproduced and minimizes damages to the environment. These designers prove that fashion can be transformed and continue to evolve.
3. Lorena Pérez, “The future of fashion is biotextiles”, El Cronisa, December, 2018 https://www.cronista.com/clase/dixit/Romina-Cardillo-de-Nous-Etudions-El-futuro-de-lamoda-son-los-biotextiles-20181226-0002.html
2. Lorena Pérez, “Daniela Sartori carries the sustainable fashion to the Buenos Aires commercial circuit”, Bloc de Moda, November, 2019 http://www.blocdemoda.com/2019/11/palermo-viejo-moda-sustentable-daniela-sartori.html
Summer 2014 collection entitled “Bangladesh”, Sartori shares the pattern so that they can be freely replicated and downloaded from the internet. Sartoni has addressed sustainability by producing smaller volumes, in an artisanal way (handmade), with a new purchase archetype like making custom clothes on demand and monitoring production facilities closer. Sartori, who showed her collections Spring Summer 2011 and 2013 at New York Fashion Week, has proven that a sustainable model is possible. In discussing more sustainable fashion in Latin America, Sartori stated:
e Je ro m ait o El f lio t& Po rtr Jordan LEWIS is a New York based photographer whose work seeks to explore personalities and spaces. While she utilizes all photographic methods she specializes in film photography and alternative processing.
el el Re b Re b Yenia HERNĂ NDEZ FONSECA is a visual presentation designer and writer from Mexico City. She holds an AA in Visual Communications from FIDM, and a BBA in Visual Merchandising from LIM College. Sheâ€™s also a regular contributor for The Psychology of Fashion. Yenia plans on continuing her education in fashion studies exploring fashion and identity in rock and roll culture. IG: @vmbyyenia
French designer and photographer Hedi Slimane is the man behind one of fashion’s
most dramatic and highly discussed transformations of the past decade. His early career in fashion spans the latter part of the 1990s through the mid-2000s. By the year 2000, after four years at the helm of Yves Saint Laurent’s menswear division, Slimane took up a two-year residency at Berlin’s Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art. He then spearheaded Dior Homme between 2000 and 2007, introducing the public to his signature ‘skinny silhouette.’ Among his notable photography work stands Berlin, a black and white photography book on the city’s youth scene published in 2002, followed by Stage in 2004, on rock’s revival and the 2.0 generation. That same year, Slimane created ‘Rock Diary,’ a project in collaboration with NME’s Alex Needham which documented London’s vibrant atmosphere of the time fuelled by emerging indierock artists and their devoted young fans. The 2005 London Birth of a Cult book followed Babyshambles’ front man, Pete Doherty, then unknown, positioned Doherty as London’s new punk-rock idol. Slimane’s relationship with youth and admission to the rock and roll and Los Angeles subculture pointed him to other projects like stage wear, curation, editorial contributions, photography exhibitions, and a documentary film.
Crossing labels, gender lines, and disciplines, Slimane’s oeuvre foreshadowed his distinct aesthetic comprised of silhouette, subject, and music reprisals, “I transform and borrow constantly from my past collections, what I believe to be making sense or relevant today,” he said in 2015.(1) While he delivered meticulous consistency for women and men at the leadership of Saint Laurent, between 2012 and 2016, and now at Celine since 2018, critics lamented Slimane’s collections being stagnant in design and lacking forward mobility, and yet, he created some of the best-selling collections of the decade. As 2020 scripts a new chapter in fashion, one is left wondering – will perpetual counter-cultural homages remain fit for continued success, or will this dogma lead to a dead end?
Fashion’s Myth of Change
1. Exclusive: Hedi Slimane On Saint Laurent’s Rebirth, His Relationship With Yves & the Importance of Music” Yahoo! Style, August 12, 2015. 2. Jean Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death, (London: Sage Publications, Ltd., 1973) 108-12. 3. Elizabeth Wilson, Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity, (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1985): 2-6.
According to Jean Baudrillard, fashion and modernity are linked beyond its mere clothing meaning. Baudrillard points to a correlation between fashion, modernity and capitalism based on changes in values and meanings of objects (clothing) through historical shifts (ancient versus novel) and a production system (capitalism) based on symbolic exchange of value (consumerism).(2) To further this idea, in her book Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity first published in 1985, fashion historian Elizabeth Wilson defines fashion as “rapid and continual change of styles,” unlike dress being “the way in which society is adorned.”(3) Both agree that fashion is defined by its variation and cycles of change, but Baurillard clarifies fashion as phenomenon does not reflect change, it maintains what he calls a “myth of change” that allows for an eternal return to past forms. (4) In other words, progress in fashion is just an illusion because of the blend and
coexistence of different styles within a period of time. Are Slimane’s continuous style retrievals compatible with these notions of modern fashion? Hedi Slimane’s retro-brandings at Saint Laurent (Spring 2013/Fall 2016) and Celine (Spring 2019 to present) direction illustrate Baudrillard’s myths of change. Not only did the designer drop the ‘Yves’ from the Yves Saint Laurent brand and got rid of the ‘é’ at Celine, he additionally delved deep into both archives bringing dead signs from back into contemporary times. For instance, his Saint Laurent Fall 2012 debut collection renewed the house’s tailoring offerings. Slimane revisited the house’s 1966 ‘Le Smoking’ – black tuxedo suit, tailored to fit and flatter the feminine body – and the 1968 ‘Saharienne’ jacket – lightweight, utilitarian jacket made from cotton gabardine, also known as the ‘Safari Jacket.’ Here fashion’s myth of change is sustained by Baudrillard’s belief that fashion’s proximity to death allows for revival of object and time – the “triviality of death and modernity of déjà vu.”(5) The re-introduction of these pieces contributed to the revival and popularity of free-spirited and androgynous dressing for women seen throughout 2010s fashion. Historically, Celine had gone through different creative overhauls. In 1960, after fifteen years in business, founder Céline Vipiana repositioned the former children’s footwear brand as a ready to wear brand for women specializing in leather goods and separates. Following its success within the Parisian upper class during the 1970s, French conglomerate LVMH acquired the house in 1987. Subsequent changes in creative leadership starting in 1997 diversified the value and meaning of Celine’s offering. After his appointment as Celine’s creative director, Slimane transformed Celine’s style (he appropriated his artistic identity into the brand), established the first menswear collection (Fall 2019) and haute couture division (Celine Maison de Couture) and completely rebranded the house, from logo to store design. These changes polarized the public. While many celebrated his return to fashion after a two year hiatus, his new appointment prompted outraged Phoebe Philo’s fan cohort to express their discontent outside Slimane’s first runway show for the label and post nostalgic memories on social media along with “#OldCéline”. Philo, former creative director of ten years, had resonated with women who claimed that their morning ritual didn’t involve dressing in Slimane’s designs. Anti-fashion 4. Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death, 111. 5. Ross anthropologist Ted Haenffler, Goths, Gamers & Grrrls: Deviance and Youth American Subcultures, Second Edition, (New York: Oxford University Polhemus defines “anti-fashion” Press, 2010) 137. 6. Ted Polhemus and Lynn Procter, Fashion as the styles of ornament falling & Anti-Fashion: Exploring Adornment and Dress From an outside the fashion’s system Anthropological Perspective, (London: Thames & Hudson, of cyclical change, like styles 1978): 34. concerning subcultural dress.(6) Slimane reintroduced subcultural fashion in the 2010s, specifically those rooted in rock and roll grounds – his favored source of inspiration. Throughout his Saint Laurent residency, he revitalized subcultural style such as 50s Greasers and Teddy Boys for Fall 2014 menswear in boxy overcoats and skinny-legged stovepipe pants up par with the fashion-conscious reputation of the youth at the time. That same season a kohl-rim eyed troop of models appeared in 60’s British Mod fashion: Slimane dressed women in graphic mini dresses and fur coats (appropriated from California artist John Baldessari’s work), checked capes, glittery Mary Janes, and knee-high boots. Aptly named “Psych Rock,” the Spring 2015 menswear collection, based on 60’s Psychedelic counterculture birthed in California, included a colorful macramé poncho reviving folk handicrafts, army surplus, and layered silver jewelry and amulets seemingly
depicting Hippie love beads. Following rock’s history timeline, Slimane claimed the early years of the 70s in womenswear for Spring 2015 most notably Hollywood Groupies or Electric Ladies’ style with platform sandals paired with black hosiery, juxtaposed flashy prints, sequined, fur, and leather jackets – the L.A. groupiedom would’ve approved.(7) Most recently 70s Parisian Bourgeois youth scene returned to Celine’s territory in knee-length checked skirts, horse-bit detailed handbags, printed scarves, denim and boots in Fall 2019; while dandy Nutters on the Row made a Spring 2020 runway appearance for menswear in reinvigorated 60s Savile Row suits. Slimane has famously dressed rock stars since his Dior Homme tenure. Similarly, at Saint Laurent he reactivated rock icons styles like Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s New Wave tailored androgyny for Spring 2014 RTW (Look 7) and Kurt Cobain’s Grunge clout goggles and relaxed flair in Spring 2016 Menswear (Look 13).(8)
Can ‘Cool’ be bought?
Slimane’s work illustrates fashion’s common thread with youth scenes: “The sense of code and signs, the perfect semiotic of street culture and tribes, is constantly redefined or invented by emerging musical genres.”(9) He has long admitted in finding comfort in his music heroes as a teen, having since based his artistic direction on their allure, aesthetic, and style. If fashion is “the cultural construct of the embodied identity,”(10) will Slimane’s approach beat society’s fluidity, subcultural impermanence, and fashion’s conventional boundaries? (11,12)
The values that once echoed rock and roll anthems, such as self-expression, social upward mobility, and resistance to hegemonic cultures have found a stronger resonance in modern hip-hop. Other arguable considerations are changes in music production and consumption, such as the rise of streaming services making hip-hop culture broadly accessible, and current social conditions seen on a macro-level, like Western society’s rising wealth.(14) The passing of iconoclasts have also denoted the genre’s declining dominance, notably Lou Reed in 2013, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen in 2016, and Chuck Berry in 2017. While it is unnatural for rock and roll to be confined in a perpetual present, the genre that defined the second half of the 20th century grew older alongside its devotees and famous designers that roamed the scene – Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, Zandra Rhodes, and Pam Hogg – even Hedi Slimane. These individuals had been part of a fairly apolitical movement that challenged the status quo of their time in which dressing differently was considered a powerful form of rebellion against conformist societies.(15) Yet subversive style is highly commoditized and these designers have now fully integrated into the luxury retail cannon, which contradicts rock’s working class roots – commodification can, at times, be more detrimental to a subculture than authoritarian repression or disgust. Furthermore, rock’s incorporation to the mainstream decreases its shocking influence and turns former outcasts into mere shadows of a cutting-edge movement.(16)
7. “Saint Laurent,” Vogue Runway, Accessed March 6, 2020. 8. “Celine,” Vogue Runway, Accessed March 6, 2020. 9. William Van Meter, “Hedi Slimane’s Photography Exhibition Documents Rock Legends,” Wall Street Journal. Published August 6, 2014. 10. Valerie Steele, “Letter From the Editor,” Fashion Theory: The Journal Arguably, rock lost its relevance of Dress, Body and Culture vol. 1 is. 1 (1997):1-2. 11. Haenffler, Goths, Gamers & Grrrls, 1-13. 12. Pamela to hip-hop among youth culture at Church Gibson, “Celebrity, ” In The End of Fashion: the turn of the new millennium.(13) Clothing and Dress in the Age of Globalization, edited by Karaminas, Vicki and Adam Geczy, (London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2019): 67-82. 13. Bill Flanagan, “Op-Ed: Is Rock’n’Roll Dead, or Just Old?” New York Times, November 19, 2016.
Young subculturists divide the world into the “cool” and the “uncool,” and for them, distinct style is a form of symbolic resistance. Maintaining boundaries is important among the group’s members otherwise it would be impossible to determine the difference between an “us” versus “them.”(17) In this case, Slimane’s work depends on patterns of disruption and the wearer’s willingness to embody a certain look. While Slimane’s nostalgic references signify a healthy coping mechanism towards the uncertainty of the present, his self-referential nuances in his work, on the other hand, challenge fashion’s trend-driven cycle.(18) Slimane admitted, “fashion without controversy probably feels like nonsense. Not that controversy is provocation. I have never been interested by provocation, only the nature of what I do seem sometimes to bring controversy.”(19) Surely, his zeitgeist parade went against the prudish norm that took over women’s fashion, especially in the late 2010s when relaxed silhouettes, neutral color ways and minimal styling became essentials inside women’s wardrobes. According to Baudrillard, storing the past in an “atemporal reserve” discounts fashion’s cyclical nature.(20) Within a modern framework, transgression and rupture of fashion’s system lead to innovation. Therefore, Slimane’s contradicting direction illustrates fashion’s myth of change.
Photo: Hedi Slimane
On the other hand, rock is not dead – the genre is going through a period of reflection on past glories and re-ignition of subgenres like garage and punk.(21) By inheriting rock’s defiant ethos, Slimane gained a cult-like following of young cultural tastemakers. In his world, musicians are fans and fans can be musicians. Also noteworthy is the designer’s emotional connection to rock culture, which he has long credited as a source of comfort during his teenage years. Slimane’s commodification in subcultural style, rather than a temporary escape from the mundane, strengthens his status in rock and roll culture. Musicians, actors, and fine artists have found kinship and respect in his work. They’ve worked together in campaigns (the Saint Laurent Music Project campaign featured music icons and newcomers like Courtney Love and Ariel Pink), commissioned tracks for this runway shows (like British rock band Razorlight during Slimane’s Dior Homme tenure, French psych-punk La Femme and American grunge Cherry Glazerr while at Saint Laurent, and most recently, Bushwick’s Bodega for Celine), 14. Eugene Rabkin,“How Hip-Hop Stole Rock’s Thunder,” StyleZeitgeist, Published September 23, 2014. Haenffler, Goths, Gamers & Grrrls, 1-13. 15.Haenffler, Goths, Gamers & Grrrls, 1-13. 16. Ibid, 139. 17. Ibid, 141. 18. Constantine Sedikides, Tim Wildschut, Jacob Juhl, and & Wing-Yee Cheung. “The Psychological Functions of Nostalgia.” In F. Grouzet (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Psychology of Time Travel and Temporality, (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2017) 25.
and worked on art for merchandise (John Baldessari and Lucia Ribisi for Saint Laurent, and David Kramer for Celine) and retail stores (Chicago artist Eli Ping’s ‘Post’ takes center stage inside Celine’s New Bond Street boutique in London, for example). Slimane further cemented himself as creative director by continuing his work in photography – a medium he’s been highly regarded in – and by creating the new Celine Haute Parfumerie, Celine Art Project, and Celine Haute Couture. For Slimane the term ‘creative director’ serves multiple purposes: signaling arterial continuity across multiple media, extending the brand’s image into a lifestyle, acquiring subcultural capital, and stimulating subcultural existence. His cool factor posted a billion dollar revenue for Saint Laurent, and mid-range labels, such as The Kooples and Zadig & Voltaire, cashed in by appropriating his ‘neo-rock’ template – he is projected to double Celine’s current revenue within five years.(22, 23) Thinking of Slimane’s work as stationary and lacking continuum makes it easy to label him as a one-trick pony, but he has created a look that embodies the ethos of cool. As exclusionary as his juggernaut may be, people across the world long to be a part of Hedi Slimane’s cool kid club, not so much because of the fashion, but the emotional connection with his non-conformist persona.
19. “Exclusive: Hedi Slimane On Saint Laurent’s Rebirth, His Relationship With Yves & the Importance of Music,” Yahoo Style, August 12, 2015. 20. Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death, 110. 21. Flanagan, “Op-Ed: Is Rock’n’Roll Dead, or Just Old?” 22. ominique Muret, “Hedi Slimane’s Celine could double revenue in five years,” Fashion Network UK, Published January 23, 2018. 23. Miles Socha, “Saint Laurent Confirms Hedi Slimane Exit,” Women’s Wear Daily, Published April 1, 2016.
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Marie GeneviĂ¨ve CYR is a designer, educator, researcher and a professor of Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design. She has an MA in Visual Culture/Fashion Theory from New York University, a BA in Design and Applied Arts from the Edinburgh College of Art. Her work interrogates the relationship between visual advertisement, its materiality, and its representation in a global landscape, with a focus on fashion and popular culture. Her work examines the politics of abstract desire, hyper-reality, hyper-consumption, and the Internet. In addition to writing and photography, she explores drawing and painting. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Red Gate Gallery (Beijing, China), and Palazzo Monti (Brescia, Italy).
ollective social rituals have been a part of human culture for thousands of years. In the Classical period, Greek festivals were the subjects of complex rituals. A festival could be divided into four distinct sections: procession – including masked parades –, sacrifices and banquets, chorus and dance, and agons (artistic competitions). A theatrical culture flourished in ancient Greece between c. 550 and c. 220BCE, when the city-state of Athens became a major cultural power. In particular, in this era of Greek theater, two dramatic genres to occur were tragedy and comedy. The creation of rites and festivals gave socially meaningful definitions to the passage of time, creating an ever-renewing cycle of days, months, and years (Bell, 1997, p.102). Deaths and resurrections are symbolically represented in the natural cycle of the year. The death of winter and the rebirth of spring are examples of seasonal rites of passage. The largest of the Dionysian festivals held in Athens was called the Great Dionysia. On the first day, there was a procession with various offerings, which led into the “komos”, a night-long feast and celebration. The next few days were set aside for the famous drama contests of Athens, where playwrights, actors and chorus competed for the best tragedy, satire, play or comedy. The festival of Dionysus was introduced to numerous colonies and allies in order to promote a common cultural identity. Theatre rituals were perhaps not meant to be spectacles but still grandly participated in the cultural explosion of fashion as spectacle. Theatre rituals were perhaps not meant to be spectacles but still grandly participated in the cultural explosion of fashion as spectacle. Numerous aspects of ritual and ritualistic proceedings are ingrained into our modern society. Fashion shows are ritualized in different ways. In the twentieth century, the catwalk became a platform to communicate sequences of dream images or fantastical visions. The runway is a kind of procession of power that splits the audience in time and space. Indeed, while there are various modes of fashion presentation, the majority are still based around models walking up and down the runway platform or other predetermined path. This essay focuses on the deracination of present-day fashion shows as a contemporary human ritual. I will compare contemporary commercially targeted performance to ancient Greek practices by examining women’s involvement in festivals, analyzing ritual actions, and looking closely at the materialized body.
The Role of Women
Written and archaeological evidence suggests that women played a significant role in the religious life of Ancient Greece and that women held extremely high posts in the ritual events of Athens. Archeologist Alan Shapiro believes that Athena’s processions were, “primarily served by an assortment of young girls who were recruited from the aristocratic families of the city to perform certain religious duties for a fixed period of time”.(1) In general, between 17 and 23 young girls would take part in processions. In ancient Greece, women were very active in the practice of rituals such as libations, sacrifices, and processions. Although their participation in politica was restricted, women played an important role in several Athenian festivals which took place in Athens every year. After leading procession, during sacrifices, victims would be dressed or undressed, painted, made drunk, adorned with a crown or bedecked with ribbons.(2) Similarly, in modern society, how the body is handled, presented, decorated, or contorted is a fundamental indicator of social values.(3) The final act of Hussein Chalayan’s Spring/Summer 2007 show may be compared to a sacrifice or an initiation ceremony, where young victims were often naked or, “wore [a] single garment and no shoes”(4) in front of an audience. Chalayan sent a young woman out on the runway, in a remotely controlled dress. As she stood there her dress was stripped from her body and she was left naked on stage. Cupping her sex with her hands, the woman stood there trembling, vulnerable, and dehumanized. During these rituals Greek women would often display their youth and beauty for the first time. In this sense, rituals provided a site for the management of desire. 1. H. A. Shapiro, Worshipping Women: Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens, (New York: Onassis Foundation, 2008), 53. 2. Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss, Sacrifice: Its Nature and Function, Translated by W.D Halls. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981), 29. 3. Catherine Bell, Ritual, Perspectives and Dimensions, (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997),184. 4. Harrison, Myths of Greece and Rome, p.155
The presence and ritualized actions of the model transform the ritual space. The impact of the choreography in this type of presentation has the audience fixated yet disconnected with the staged bodies. The ‘spectacle du corps’ is further augmented by choreography. The fashion models, marching up and down the pathway, instep with each other, often dressed in similar outfits, creates a sublime atmosphere.Apart from their silence, Sigmund Freud suggested that the effects of mechanical elements and repetitiveness in the model presentation disturb. I think that the repetitive cadence of the model walks and their silence form a visual barrier, transforming the human bodies into mannequins. The repetitive nature of ancient rituals are present in today’s runway performances. According to religious studies scholar Catherine Bell (1992), “one of the attributes of ritual-like behavior is the quality of invariance, usually seen in a disciplined set of actions marked by precise repetition and physical control”.(5) This disciplined set of actions creates a disembodied gaze. By observing model gestures and ritual walk, we recognize the notion of repetition and silence existing in runway presentation. As Rachel Dodes observed in an article for The Wall Street Journal: “On an imaginary line, models cross their feet over it in a hypnotic zigzag pattern, their head angled ever so slightly to one side. The dead, drugged look of these models, gazing, unfailingly, unblinkingly, down the runway, past the audience, into the eye of all the cameras.”(6)
In these contemporary iterations, nobody smiles or talks; the models look like they are in a death march. Unlike ancient Greece audiences, which would react to the performance by clapping, “booing”, or even throwing things on stage to express their disaccord, today’s fashion audiences are silent, clapping slowly, lifelessly at the end of the show. The silent dimension of the fashion performance provides clues / tells us something important about the shift in the perception of the ritualized body. For example, the melancholic silence of the models is similar to the maenads - women who were followers of Dionysus. According to the history of religion, Dionysus, god of intoxication, and his followers called maenads, in their bloodthirsty ecstasy of madness, resurrected the world of the dead. Philologist Walter F. Otto supposes that, “possessed by the god, women rush off, whirl madly in circles, or stand still, as if turned into a stone.”(7) Freud examines how repetitive behaviors and actions are the base of any ritual practice. He highlights an interesting connection between repetition and death, repetition and “positive affective experience”.(8) This concept of “repetition compulsion” emulates an idea of power,the power to control the ways in which people act or domination, resulting in the audience being overcome by fear. Jean Baudrillard, on the other hand, states that, “fashion in itself, is a society of dreams, phantasms, and fashionable psychoses…”.(9) Through symbolic activities, a fashion show creates “contagious virulence”, and, at the same time, collective enjoyment.
5. Catherine Bell, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 109. 6. Rachel Dodes, “Crossing Fashion’s Thin White Line,” Wall Street Journal: Eastern Edition(February 1st, 2008), p. B1-B2. 7. Walter Otto, Dionysus: Myth and Cult, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1965) 94 8. Ibid, 58. 9. Jean Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death, (London: Sage, 2004) 94.v
The ritualized body may be seen, due to the lack of agency, as an inert object, close to death. The power of performative bodies also transforms the theatrical environment and the ritual space. “According to Bell, “ritualization temporarily structures a space through a series of physical movements and performative imposition of bodily forms.”(10) For instance, in the context of a fashion show, clothed moving bodies act as mobile décor elements. The repetitive cadence of the models’ walk and their silence forms a visual dissonance, thus transforming human bodies into mannequins. Freud and other contemporary philosophers shared an ambivalence and fear towards automatons, dolls, and doubles. Walter Benjamin recognized that, “… every fashion is in conflict with the organic. Every fashion couples the living body with the inorganic world. Fetishism, underlying the sex appeal of the inorganic, is fashion’s vital nerve.”(11) The way the body is presented on a pedestal, brings it to a lifeless stage, a materiality, in conflict with the actual organic body itself. Contemporary designers have explored the idea of mannequins and human dolls. Maison Martin Margiela often prefers an installation on wooden dummies instead of using living models. For their winter 2000 Haute Couture show, Viktor & Rolf, chose to present their collection on a turning platform, where a model stood standing like an inanimate doll while the designers / creators dressed her. The fashion model’s celebrated body becomes a powerful cultural icon, or object of desire, used as a model of imitation in society. In ritual, the staged human body captivates the audience into a disembodied gaze. The semiotic use of the body in ritual practice, where actions are significant, creates power.
The body as object is central to the fashion show ritual, where models are often dehumanized. Once staged, the fashion model body becomes a commoditized and eroticized symbol in our modern culture. The Classical period played an essential part in the foundation of our culture; it is therefore natural to study its ritual practices in order to understand recent changes. The fashion show presentation as we know it today presents an abundance of similarities with the ancient Greek rituals and festivals. In ancient Greece, the rituals provided an outlet for women to express themselves socially outside of their regular lives. Today, fashion constantly renews the materiality of its ideal body in order to feed the economy and continue the vicious cycle of consumerism.
Sp ide rL
of th Re d
Af The te F rli lo fe we r
Noel YEONG-AN LIAO is a practitioner in the fashion industry, travelling from Taipei City across the Pacific Ocean to New York City. Graduating from the class of 2020, MA Fashion Studies at Parsons School of Design, her research focus is on material culture, brand and identity, particularly adept at analyzing Fashion in the context of Japan and New York. Her works are presented at Popular Culture & American Culture Association Conference, LIM College, and at Parsons: “Modern White” (2020), “Patching up Identity: Boro Fashion in Japan” (2019), “Fashioning the Cities” (2019)”.
he Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful (2017) has been selected for the 22nd Busan Film Festival and won the Best Feature Film at the 54th Golden Horse Award. The film is directed by Ya-Che Yang while the costumes were designed by designer/stylist Chia-Hui Wang. The film narrates a scandalous and blooded incident that happened in the Mitou district at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, during the 1980s. The incident entails a ploy for Madame Tang to seize power and control the local government while gaining fortune to fortify the Tang empire. Madame Tang (Kara Wai as leading actress), who is an antique dealer during day time, secretly serves as middleman (“white gloves”) between the political parties and prominent aristocrats. She manipulates political agendas and manages huge interests while operating inside-trade businesses of the Mitou district land development with the help of her two daughters. The older daughter, Tang Ning (Kei-Xi Wu as supporting actress), tries to align herself with her mother’s seemingly legit “career”, but Madame Tang regards her / treats her as a barraging chip for political and business negotiation. The younger daughter, Tang Chen (interpreted by Vicky Chen), on the other hand, is always told to serve tea and water while the unglamorous business takes place. While keeping Tang Chen from knowing her true identity (she is actually the daughter of Tang Ning, granddaughter to Madame Tang), she teaches her the knack of politics and business by letting her observe and participate.(1)
In the opening scene, costume designer Wang dressed the Tang family in tailored clothing inspired by the color and shape of the red spider lily. In the beginning, three of them are wearing midnight blue outfits with red spider lily embroideries (see Figure 1).(2) Madame Tang and Tang Chen are dressed in the same sheer, satin silk fabric. Only Tang Ning is wearing a blue velvet body-con dress. The red spider lily embroideries have different forms. Specifically, the one on Tang Chen’s dress portrays the spider lilies in buds, alluding to her unmatured physical and mental status in the beginning of the film.
The different characteristics and fates of Madame Tang’s two “daughters” are further apparent in their wardrobes and in the stylist’s use of the color red. For example, through the way Tang Ning is being portrayed, viewers have been subtly informed the death of this character. That is, in one scene, she was wearing a red chiffon dress as if an ultimate pawn and an object for seduction and sacrifice when doing the bidding for Madame Tang to seduce the officials of the land development (see Figure 2).(3) Toward the end of the film, her life ends with a flame in the sea, as she attempts to leave Madame Tang’s control. The flame was captured to resemble the figure of a floating red spider lily. The color red also echoes the blood shed and the collateral casualty resulting from the power play. Moreover, the red spider lily also manifests in the set design of the film. Peggy Tsai, the Art Director incorporates artifacts and symbols of the red spider lily into the setting of the house, making the film’s narrative visually cohesive and consistent with the profile of Madame Tang as an antique dealer.(4) The set design also shoes her fetish toward material culture, indicating her longing for power and control. As observed by designer Tsai in an interview with Beautimode, “the color and light of the film is really important to find the balance that fits the narrative,” said Tsai.(5) This also resonates with the notion brought up by Steve Neale (2002): “Colour would, or could, ‘serve only to distract the audience from those elements in the film which carried forward the narrative: acting, facial expression, ‘the action’. The unity of the digenesis and the primacy of the narrative are fundamental to realist cinema. If the colour was seen to threaten either one it could not be accommodated.”(6) In this sense, designer Tsai incorporated the red spider lily into every frame of the scene to give continuity to the visual theme. Designer Tsai uses the ink painting of the red spider lily from pioneering female calligraphist Fang Zhaoling (protegee of Zhang Daqian) and transforms them into the paintings on the wall or into the drawings Madame Tang paints during one of the scenes in the film. In fact,
if one pays close attention to every frame, the red spider lily is either in the vase or on the plates. It is omnipresent, almost overwhelming (see Fig. 3).(7) The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful, with its carefully studied color scheme and its metaphorical use of the red spider lily, fashions death through a rich visual experience.
1. Alison Lambert, “Spider Lily,” Hecate 37, no. 1 (2011): 187. 2. “Styling the characters: Interview with the costume designer and stylist Chia-Hui Wang from the movie the Bold, the corrupt, and the beautiful,” my trans., Beautimode, December 15, 2017, https:// www.beautimode.com/article/content/84175/ 3. Tsai is more of a Production Designer since she covers the grounds from visual art of the setting to the props and the display of the objects. 4. “Interview with Peggy Tsai” Beautimode, my trans., November 26, 2017 https://www.beautimode.com/article/content/84131/. 5. Inner Quotes from Edward Buscombe (1977), ‘Sound and Color’. Jump Cut, no. 17, p. 24 6.In Steve Neale, “Colour and Film Aesthetics”, The Film Cultures Reader (London: Routledge), 2002, 85. 7. Image from IMDb
so n Op al er a Self-Portrait, Mist, Chico Hot Springs, Montana, 2019
Linda TROELLER is a New York photographer who has won numerous awards including Pictures of the Year for Healing Waters, Aperture and Women of Achievement, Douglass College for her TB-Aids Diary. Her recent exhibit from her book â€œLiving at the Chelsea Hotel,â€? was recently on view at Leica Gallery, Los Angeles and will travel. Other books focus on women include Erotic Lives of Women, Scalo and Orgasm, and Daylight. She photographed three fashion catalogues for the Apolda Museum, Germany and exhibited her images with presentations with fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld. She has been visiting lecturer/artist at SVA, Parsons, NYC; Yale University; Ryerson University among others.
Self-Portrait with Julie Margaret Cameron, New York City, 2019 Self-Portrait with Sontag, New York City, 2019
â€œMy self-portrait exhibition and book project spans fifty years with these photographs focusing on a selection of what prevails and what exists in my years nearby 70. Ideals of beauty and fashion at varying ages, identity fragmentation, sexuality and healing provocations though veiling and unveiling are at the center of my art practice.â€?
Self-Portrait, Facelift, Chelsea Hotel, New York City, 2010
Self-Portrait, Lashes, Palm Springs, California, 2013
In descending order: Self-Portrait, Satin, Chico Hot Springs, Montana, 2019. SelfPortrait, Organdy, New York City, 2019. Self-Portrait, Tutu, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 2017. Self-Portrait, Rainbow Scarf, Sabino Canyon, Arizona, 2017
as e F Ul utu tim re at Bo eD d y re ss
Fiona DIEFFENBACHER is an Assistant Professor of Fashion at Parsons School of Design, where she currently serves as Chair of the curriculum committee in the School of Fashion. Dieffenbacher holds a BA in Fashion and Textile Design from the University of Ulster in the UK, a BFA in Fashion Design and an MA in Fashion Studies from Parsons School of Design. Her research practice focuses on the intersection between the body, dress and identity, with a particular emphasis on the integration of fashion and theology within material culture. A second edition of her book, Fashion Thinking: Creative Approaches to the Design Process will be published in October, 2020 and a proposal for her second title, Dress & Emotion, is currently under review by Bloomsbury Academic.
“Our clothing is testimony to our embodiment, it can whisper of the actual material death that, as humans, we may rather seek, in vain, to avoid. The uncanny quality of empty clothes may quietly speak of the intensity of the fact of our embodiment and thus at once murmur the truth of our real mortality.”(1)
The current discourse in fashion studies often speaks from the position that the
physical body and the physical world it inhabits is all there is, which does not fully represent the complicated relationship between the material, the ‘spiritual’ or metaphysical. Philosopher Karen Hanson in her essay, Dressing Down Dressing Up-The Philosophic Fear of Fashion reams off a list of likely sources for this fear including its “failures in the face of death.”(2) I would argue that religious belief offers a response to this failure as it fundamentally changes one’s perception and experience of the situated practice of being and having a ‘dressed’ body in the present and future sense. As a research practitioner who embraces belief in the supernatural as well as the natural world, I can attest that this impacts one’s understanding of what is meant by the term “body” in relation to the soul and the role of dress in the present. In this essay, I aim to offer an inclusive framework that seeks to situate the future (post-death) body within states of dress, bodies and environments. I will utilize the term embodied soul versus body/soul throughout the text as this represents the human condition from a unified standpoint as a totality, which is central to my position, verses referencing the body and soul as separate entities from a platonic position. I posit that the future (post-death) body for the believer is the ultimate form of dress. This unorthodox concept seeks to re-situate ancient beliefs in a contemporary context, building on ideas expressed by contemporary scholars (most prominently Berger), that nudity can be considered as a form of dress.(3) It is critical to state from the onset that I am neither a religious scholar nor a theologian, but rather speak from the subject position of Christianity within the reformed protestant tradition. For the Christian there is the promise of the restoration to come - a renewal of all things- not only of the earth itself but of our own physical body and identity post-death - this is what I will refer to as ‘re-dressing’. The incorruptible, ‘glorious’ state of perfection we often seek in the present is not attainable until we ‘put on’ the future body. This might account for the frustration that many articulate when (temporal) clothing fails to reconcile the perceived platonic gap between body/mind (or soul) in the context of identity here and now. I will reference the biblical text as a primary source to illustrate the concept of the future body from the standpoint of faith.
The proposed universal framework of embodiment shown in Figure 1 represents three states of ‘dress’ (naked, clothed and more fully clothed), bodies (physical, social and future or ‘spiritual’), environments (human, world and ‘heaven on earth’) in time present and future. The domains circled represent areas yet to be addressed in the current discourse. In the New Testament book, I Corinthians 15: verses 53 and 54 the apostle Paul provides us with an exposition of two different types of bodies, the present body, corruptible, decaying, and doomed to die, and the future body, incorruptible, undecaying, never to die again. In terms of the language of physicality, this challenges our sense of what we perceive to be matter or immaterial, real or unreal. Here we begin to grasp the idea that the body we inhabit now is perishable and mortal and, in that sense, less material or less physical than the imperishable/immortal one promised to believers in the future.
53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
It is important to clarify that the resurrection (or re-dressing) the text points to is not the reconstruction of the old body, but the re-creation of the original individual in a brand-new bodily existence. Professor of Philosophy, Bruce Reichenbach believes that the body is not the one to be resurrected, but rather the whole person - the individual. He explains that there is no such thing in the New Testament as resurrection of the body - but a recreation. In Genesis 2:7, at the moment of creation, God “breathed into his (Adam) nostrils the breath of life [zōē]. The inert body received life, or came to life. The term zōiopoieitai, “come to life,” used in I Cor. 15:36, implies recreation. There is no disembodied entity surviving death, nor a body reserved for resurrection, but the power of God giving life back to the same individual, but with a different nature- one not made with “flesh and blood” because this nature cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor 15:50).(4)
Awaiting the New Body | 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 1 For we know that if the earthly tent (skēnos)(6) we live in is destroyed, we have a building (oikodomē) from God, an eternal house (oikia) in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead (ependyō ‘put on in addition’) with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed (endyō ‘put on’), we will not be found naked (gymnos). 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead (ependyō ‘put on in addition’) with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.(7) (Emphasis added by author) According to biblical scholar Luis Iván Martinez-Toledo, the verbs endyō to ‘put on’ and ependyō, to ‘put on in addition’ in context Paul applied these verbs to earthly or heavenly habitations in verses 1-2 (Figures 2 & 3). There is an implicit change from one habitation to another, moreover, verse 4 seems to parallel the habitations with death or life, in this case death being swallowed up by life, as inferring that one garment or habitation is being changed for another. In 2 Corinthians 5 verse 3 endyō, to “put on” is distinct from verse 4 ependyō, to “put on in addition” and the references to different habitations show that the issue refers to two physical natures, one before ependyō and the other after. Martinez-Toledo states that in this passage Paul is focusing on the change from one existence into another, through the hope provided by the resurrection of Jesus. Nakedness for him is an “undesirable absence of a house.”(8) Contemporary Pauline theologian, N. T. Wright, comments that where Paul speaks of the new tent or tabernacle that is waiting for us, he is referring to the new ‘house’, dwelling, a new body, waiting within God’s sphere (‘heaven’), ready for us to put it on over the present one so that what is mortal may be swallowed up with life.(9) He acknowledges that this concept requires Westerners to make a huge leap of the imagination and that it also requires us to be open to new interpretations of materiality beyond Platonic concepts: We have taken for granted Plato’s ontological contrast between ‘spirit’ in the sense of something immaterial and ‘matter’ in the sense of something material, solid, physical. We think we know that solid objects are one sort of thing and ideas or values or spirits are a different sort of thing. We know that bodies decay and die; and so, we assume that to be bodily, to be physical, is to be impermanent, changeable, transitory, and that the only way to be permanent, unchanging, and immortal is to become nonphysical. (10)
Wright posits that what Paul is asking us to imagine is that there will be a new mode of physicality, one that is much more real, more solid, more bodily than our present body. This new future body (or mode of dress) will be immortal, as in having passed beyond death, not just in a temporal sense but in an ontological sense in that it will no longer be subject to sickness, injury, decay, and death itself. Essentially, this will be a new state of incorruptible physicality – what Wright defines as transphysical: The early Christians envisaged a (future) body which was still robustly physical but also significantly different from the present one. If anything, we might say not that it will be less physical, as though it were some kind of ghost or apparition, but more. Not unclothed, but more fully clothed. (11) (emphasis added by author)
Here, we begin to see more articulated language around three states of embodiment; ‘unclothed’, ‘clothed’ and ‘more fully clothed’. This challenges us to invert our conception of physical embodiment and our everyday experience of the physical world. Wright suggests from a close interpretation of the text, that what we are experiencing now on earth is less physical than what is to come in the future in terms of bodies or the world believers will inhabit. Eschatologically, I would posit that the future, glorious body the believer “puts on” is the ultimate ‘eternal’ form of dress post- death; and that subsequently, clothing in the interim is merely attempting to achieve what God or the divine seeks to do ultimately. One could argue this is the ideal state of being to aspire to; an embodiment that is not yet (fully) possible here on earth. To be fully clothed in our nakedness, in our subjectivity, in the presence and under the gaze of the divine creator then, could be considered the ultimate dress for the embodied soul.
1. Karen Hanson, “Dressing Down Dressing Up-The Philosophic Fear of Fashion.” In Hypatia, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1990 Feminism and Aesthetics (Summer, 1990), accessed on March 29, 2019, (Published by Wiley on behalf of Hypatia, Inc ), 114. 2. Ibid., 107-121. 3. John Berger, Ways of Seeing (London: Penguin, 1972), 54. 4. Bruce R Reichenbach, “Resurrection of the Body, Re-Creation, and Interim Existence.” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 21 (Dec. 1977): 33-34. The Greek term skēne (or masculine skēnos) for (earthly) tent in 2 Cor. 5 verses 1 & 4 translates the Old Testament Hebrew term ōhel to refer to a temporary or mobile tent. It is permanent in the sense that it serves as a home or house, but not in terms of its material structure. # This is especially true in contrast to baît, “house”, which primarily has the meaning of home or family, but, when it refers to a physical dwelling, it denotes a building that is made of more durable materials than a tent. 6. The Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, English Standard Version (ESV) 7. Luis Iván Martínez-Toledo, The Naked State of Human Being, The Meaning of Gymnos in 2 Corinthians 5:3 and its Theological Implications (Wipf & Stock, 2016), 39. 8. The tabernacle refers to the portable dwelling of Yahweh (God). It was used by the children of Israel from the Exodus from Egypt until the conquest of Canaan/entering into the Promised Land.. Moses received instruction from God at Mt. Sinai on its construction and transportation. (Exodus 25–31 and 35–40). 9. N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008), 153. 10. N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of Son of God, Vol 3: Christian Origins and the Question of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 477.
h at De s& to o Ta t Tzuni LOPEZ is a student in the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons, The New School. Her research is focused on the relationship between fashion and the body politicâ€”specifically, the manner in which fashion and fashion images affect conceptions of Othered identities in the context of a broader culture. Coming from a studio arts background, she utilizes practice-based approaches in her theoretical writing, and considers critical discourse an art-form in itself.
There has been a shift, as of the early 1980s, in cultural attitudes toward tattoos.
While tattoos once demarcated the boundaries between “mainstream society and a self-marginalized subculture,”(1) their presence has proliferated, and they have become a highly sought after commodity. Unlike other commodities that come and go, however, tattoos are notable for their intended permanence, and thus, their relationship to mortality. In our contemporary era, postmodern panic regarding the instability of life and reality runs rampant. It is within this context that permanent body modifications have surged in popularity. Fashioning techniques of body modification mimic the manners in which the feminist, gay liberation, and New Age movements have brought attention to the revolutionary potential of the body.(2) There is a sense that, even amidst the postmodern chaos which kills all meaning, we can “be who we want to be”(3) through body modification. These products promise not only a sense of self-determination, but also guarantee a sense of stability: “they are permanent bodily changes that may serve to anchor the self in the postmodern world.”(4) And so, individuals inject ink into their skin and exert a sense of control over their expressed bodily reality. That said, the ability to self-determine one’s identity via body modification is limited. One can rewrite, but cannot supersede, the limits of the skin. Tattooing works directly with the material confines of living: the organic, perpetually decaying, corporeal entity. The skin, however, functions as more than a fleshy organ; it is a boundary between interiority and exteriority,(5) a boundary between the visible and hidden,(6) a boundary between the self and the world.(7) Certain elements of the body cannot be eradicated through fashioning and ornamentation like race, size, age, gender, or disability. Instead, these facets of identity are brought to the forefront as the body’s discursive potential is evoked through imposed markings. The symbolisms applied to the body through tattooing are subject to the same downfalls as other objects and images in our post-modern age. Baudrillard points to the death of meaning at the level of the sign, and the images depicted in tattoos are similarly subject to this loss of meaning: “tattooed bodies are ‘commodities on display’ with tattoos having little connection to the referents they once symbolized.”(8) Turner expands on Baudrillard’s theories, by remarking that “body marks are commercial objects in leisure marketplace and have become optional aspects of a body aesthetic.”(9) Tattoos indicate a pronouncement of the body as a discursive site of capitalism in which “bodies are sites of representation … not only physical but also communicative.”(10) 1. Orend and Gagné, “Corporate Logo Tattoos and the Commodification of the Body.” 501. 2. Victoria Pitts, In the Flesh, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 6. 3. Ibid,194. 4. Orend and Gagné, “Corporate Logo Tattoos and the Commodification of the Body.” 495. 5. Alessandra Lemma, “Ink, holes and scars” in Under the Skin: A Psychoanalytic Study of Body Modification, (Routledge, 2010), 148. 6. Anne Anlin Cheng and Josephine Baker, “Skins, Tattoos and the Lures of the Surface” in Second Skin, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 28.
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With this in mind, the affective properties of tattooing are not necessarily dependent on the imagery being applied to the skin, but on the process by which that imagery is applied. The ritual, the pain, and the determination for a permanent, self-imposed change catapults a transformation of transcendental proportions. This is what differentiates body modification as opposed to other art forms and other forms of adornment: the application of a tattoo is a multi-sensory occurrence, whereas other expressive materials lack that attachment to embodied experience. The particulars of this process vary between cultures: sub-Saharan African scarification, for example, lifts up the skin using a needle or thorn, whereas most American tattoo shops mark the skin with a gun. The throttle of the needle is a repeated, penetrative, motorized action. The moment of each individual strike is muddied as each mark occurs in hyper-speed. Meaning is achieved through repeated acts of self-mutilation rather than being reliant on representational signification. Tattooing occurs in a liminal space: it is imposed beneath the surface, while being perceptible above. Its transient nature eliminates a sense of duality, and has philosophical repercussions. The inner and outer self are intermingled—destruction and creation conglomerated. 7. Lemma, “Ink, holes and scars”, 148. 8. Orend and Gagné, “Corporate Logo Tattoos and the Commodification of the Body,” 495. 9. Turner qtd. in Orend and Gagné, “Corporate Logo Tattoos and the Commodification of the Body.” 495. 10. Pitts, In the Flesh, 62. 11. Paul Connerton, “Tattoos, masks, skin” in The Spirit of Mourning: History, Memory, and the Body. 126.
ce ca y)d en (D e Lorenz MAGER is a German-American artist with a BFA in Jewelry + Metalsmithing from Rhode Island School of Design. Lorenz first experienced metalsmithing at Cranbrook Summer Art Institute before studying for one year in the craft-based Metals department at Oregon College of Art and Craft and ultimately transferring to RISD. Lorenzâ€™s work focuses on relic and reliquary, as well as the object and narrative provenance of a piece of adornment. His body of work, including the fine art collection Gen (wh)Y, led to an artist residency at Glasgow School of Art where he had studied for a semester abroad. In Scotland, he participated in a variety of shows for his project Con/Tain/Strain. He moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2017, where he now works as a designer alongside his personal jewelry practice and brand Gleichgewicht.
(Decay)dence Bone, Gold, Silver, Brass, Patina (Decay)dence is a modern interpretation of both relic and reliquary. Housed in a faceted case, the piece honors the decayed tooth of my grandfather, set on a band reminiscent of his deco-influenced high school graduation ring. The work deals with the blight of a man atrophying into old age, a golden crown firmly set atop a crumbling body, his sigil partially entombed within the geometric case. Boyd Vanderbeke passed away in 2017. The ring is modeled by his youngest daughter, my mother, Diane VanderBeke Mager (Cooper-Hewitt/Parsons MA History of Decorative Arts â€™90)*, representing the passing down of familial power between three generations.
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The Chilean Mantle: Between the Sacred and the Profane
1. León León, Marco Antonio, Sepultura sagrada, tumba profana. Los espacios de la muerte en Santiago de Chile, 1883-1932, Santiago: Lom Ediciones, 1997. 2. Barbouilleur, “Vida de Santiago: Garabatos”, Pluma y Lápiz, May 10, 1903, 1. 3. Efrat Tseëlon, The Masque of Femininity, (London: Sage Publications, 1995), 105. 4. Ibid. 5. Luis del Valle, “En la Iglesia”, Pluma y Lápiz, April 6, 1902, 1. 6. Rosa Hochstetter, “Trapos”, Zig-Zag, November 10, 1907. 7. El Mercurio, October 25, 1914, 19. 8. Lou Taylor, Mourning Dress. A costume and social history, (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1983), 267. 9.“Corrrespondencia”, Familia, May, 1923, 38. 10. Benjamín Vicuña Subercaseaux, Recopilación de artículos sueltos, (Santiago: Universo, 1918), 142. 11. Bernardo Subercaseaux, Historia de las ideas y de la cultura en Chile, (Santiago: Editorial Universitaria, 2011), 357.
Pathways Leading From Fashion to Funerals 1. The death-positive movement is a social and philosophical movement that encourages people to speak openly about death, dying, and corpses. See http://www. orderofthegooddeath.com/resources/death-positive-movement 2. acomo Leopardi, Dialogue between Fashion and Death, Penguin Great Ideas, (London: Penguin Classics, 2010). Operette morali or, “Small Moral Works,” a series of 24 dialogues and essays penned between 1823 and 1828. 3. Blumer, H. (1969). “Fashion: From class differentiation to collective selection.” The Sociological Quarterly 10(3): 275-291. As reprinted in Blumer, H. (2007). Fashion: From class differentiation to collective selection. Fashion Theory | A Reader. M. 4. John Flügel, “Protection,” in The Psychology of Clothes (Hogarth Press, 1950). 5. Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966)
The Singapore Deathscape: A Study of Traditional Mourning Garments and Its Collective Representations in Chinese Rituals for the Departed 1. Eugenio Menegon, Devising Order: Socio-religious Models, Rituals, and the Performativity of Practice, edited by Bruno Boute and Thomas Småberg, e-book, 1931, 196 2. Roger T. Ames, 安樂哲, “The Great Commentary (Dazhuan 大傳) and Chinese Natural Cosmology.” International Communication of Chinese Culture 2, no. 1 (2015): 1-18. 3. Bart De Baere et al. Art without Death: Conversations on Russian Cosmism, (Berlin, Germany: Sternberg Press, 2017), 27. 4. Christoph Klaus Streb and Thomas Kolnberger,”Introduction: The materiality and spatiality of death, burial and commemoration.” Mortality 24, no. 2 (May 2019): 117. 5. Gigi Durham, and Douglas M. Kellner eds., Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks. Malden, (MA: Blackwell, 2001), 92. 6. Maurice Freedman, Chinese Lineage and Society: Fukien and Kwangtung, (London: The Athlone Press, 1966), 33. 7. Chee-Kiong Tong, Chinese Death Rituals in Singapore, (e-book, Questia, 2004), 71. 8. The Straits Times, “Family and friends give offerings for the dead,” NewspaperSG [Singapore], October 17, 1989, 19. 9. Joanne Entwistle, The Fashioned Body, 33. 10. Swee Hoon Lee, “Satisfying the Dead and the Living,” The Sunday Times [Singapore], April 1, 1988. 11. Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, eds. The Affect Theory Reader, (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 2 12. Entwistle, The Fashioned Body, 29. 13. Kraybill, Donald B. Slow Time is God’s Time: On Patience in the Age of Hypermodernity. Vestoj, ‘On Slowness’. 14. Colin Campbell, The Meaning of Objects and the Meaning of Actions: A Critical Note on the Sociology of Consumption and Theories of Clothing. Journal of Material Culture, 103. 15. Yuniya Kawamura, Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies. Oxford, UK: Berg, 2005.
th ea +D Pa r s o n s S c h o o l O f D e s i g n
JOURNAL OF FASHION STUDIES
Journal of Fashion Studies
The seventh issue of BIAS Journal of Dress Practice, looking at death and how its literal and figurative form interfaces with fashion. Contr...
Published on May 9, 2020
The seventh issue of BIAS Journal of Dress Practice, looking at death and how its literal and figurative form interfaces with fashion. Contr...