for quite a long time, i've wanted to read some really good writing on the political, social and cultural ramifications of fashion.
i've spent a lot of time thinking about why we wear what we wear, and how unconscious so many of those decisions seem to be.
why do you want to look a certain way? how much effort are you willing to put into it? what does that say (or not say) about you?
and how important are these questions in the grand scheme of things?
i think a big part of this desire, on my part, to legitimize my participation in this industry.
i know that fashion is a huge part of my life, and a huge part of who i am.
a couple of months ago, i was in a design bookstore, where a big sale was in progress. i picked up this 150 pager, called fashion zeitgeist: trends and cycles in the fashion system. why? because the original price was $55*, and i had the opportunity to buy it for $9.95.**
and then it made its way to the bottom of a pile of things in my studio.
i finally dug it out this week, and have been fairly gobsmacked to find that it details some of the smartest examination of the topics that have been on my mind for years.
and it's written for people who are, like, used to reading text books, not fashion magazines.
in short, i love it. and i'm only 20 pages in.
here's an example of why:
"constantly marking, erasing and transgressing borders, fashion withdraws itself from orderly social categories, makes for a disturbance, creates excitement and anxiety. here, for once, exceptions do not confirm the rule....
as a commentary on the limits fixed through clothing and on clothing, the haute couture is a discourse in clothing about clothing. it is deeply linked, even identical, to the transgression of gender identity. it was not not until the 1960's that haute couture lost this power***; by the 1980's it had made the transition to prêt-à-porter."
in 20 short pages, i've already made it through some very interesting illumination on the role that gender and class roles play in fashion, and vice-versa, with a focus on 18th century france..... and a quick peek at the last chapter seems to make clear that the entire thing is devoted to a look at the work of martin margiela.
it seems highly likely that there may be more nerd-updates, on this here blog, as i make it through the bulk of fashion history.
i'm so excited!
* hi! that's almost $3 for each page!
**we'll have to save fo another day the analysis of why i am as obsessed with buying things at a huge discount, almost as much as i'm obsessed with fashion & style.
*** here's a great argument that transgression & power are being regained (somewhat) by the couture houses.