Aesthetic Politics in Fashion.

A book review by Edith Lázár

In the Fashion Series

Fashion is one ubiquitous phenomenon that entangles design and consumption, with dress as its frontispiece and an amount of other products annexed as ‘adornment.’ However such a definition would be all too simplistic for fashion’s network of social and cultural references, as it operates interconnected with everyday practices and courses of action encompassing a great number of actors. Fashion got to be defined in terms of creative production and since the eighteenth century, creating clothing underwent a slow process from craftsmanship to being recognized as art. Because fashion – as a system of beliefs and practices – has the ability to inform its materials with significance, and thus create views of the world we live in, the aesthetic aspects of fashion are making for an interesting dimension in fashion’s theoretical research.

Published by Sternberg Press, the 14th thematic volume of studies from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Aesthetic Politics in Fashion comprises a series of fresh academic writings elaborated around applied examples. The corpus of texts calls upon fashion’s dangerous liaisons: art, the body-gender-differentiation triad, techniques of display/presentation and image inquiries, which are passed through fashion’s weighty economical character along with the working industry issues. Because it approaches a vast array of subjects, to bring them together under a common denominator is always a difficult task. However, Elke Gaugele, the editor of the volume, has managed to construct a backbone that both assembles and ramifies, thus blending critical and creative action. The framework relies on the dynamic exchange between politics and aesthetics as proposed by French philosopher Jacques Rancière. I will try to summarize briefly – if possible – the philosopher’s theoretical direction in order to trace the perspective of politics and art in fashion, and its relevance for research approaches concerning contemporary fashion and its agenda.

Rancière’s grasp of aesthetics follows a broader sense with aesthetics as an issue of visibility and comprehension that works with concepts and operational modes of visibility within the political domain. In other words, for something to make sense there has to be some conformation between perception and the meaning dictating what counts as commonly sensible, both of which are socially constructed and activated by common practices. This also means they are compelled by space and time. Aesthetics is linked to a ‘distribution of the sensible’: the general modes of perception socially naturalized of bodies, voices, and capacities at work within a given community. Politics emerge when an already given order or established sense of things is disturbed by something that previously wasn’t considered worthy to be seen or heard, and thus hasn’t raised awareness of it. Art interventions share the same potential of questioning. Politics and aesthetics are tied up together since any specific social arrangements are mainly based on circulating images and words that create the background for visibility and understanding. The circulation holds within the constant risk of rearrangement or re-interpretation because they touch upon people differently. [1] Joseph J. Tanke comments that even if aesthetics and politics often sustain one another and share points in their endeavors, they are not synonymous. While aesthetics alter the framework of what is perceptible, politics is always the struggle from which is constituted a collective subject able to impact the social given distribution. [2]

Tensions fuelled by aesthetics and politics are the dynamics on which Rancière has elaborated the aesthetic regime of arts. The aesthetic regime “constitutes the condition in which contemporary art is produced”, it accounts for “the transformations of art and its relationship with the other spheres of collective experience.” [3] This regime allows broader views of artistic practices in their individual expression and interweaves the everydayness in the artwork as a sensory form. But also artistic interventions open spaces for the visibility and interrogation of already given distributions. While the aesthetic regime is the dominant one today, it is by no means the only one. Historically, Rancière identifies three major regimes of thinking upon art: the ethical, the representative and the aesthetic regime of arts. The ethical regime dates back to Plato’s writings and does not identify art as art, but rather is a question of ‘ways of doing and making’ images and how they manage to reflect the collective ethos – the ‘spirit’ – of a society according to class hierarchies. Art is set apart from everydayness only within the representative regime where art is a representation of life. This regime laid down the production norms of classical beaux arts, namely the norms that stated what forms of ‘making and doing’ are under art’s jurisdiction, which subjects could be depicted (in a high and low distinction), the material techniques proper for them, and the response representations need to effect. In a nutshell, it proposes hierarchies of genres and subjects; and what could be artistically dignifying to represent resides historical, mythological or religious subject matters. According to Rancière, such hierarchies not only display but maintain an analogy to the oligarchic ordering of society, the distribution of the sensible, which draws socio-economic differences, identities, roles, and so forth. As such, they’ve traced political boundaries, namely those who can speak and what they can say. [4]

It is towards the eighteenth century when artists and thinkers become interested in what makes art to be art, questioning the principles and the criteria which separated art from life or the everyday experiences. Within artworks, they have approached subjects previously restricted, like common people’s lives, the pictures of everyday urban strolling, the interiors of homes and, not lastly, commodity forms. It is this fall back of art as imitation which forged the condition for art strategies pointing to the autonomy of art, but also gave rise to heterogeneous practices based on imbrications between arts and life. Yet art does not become everydayness – that would mean its fail into kitsch – but something else. [5] In this sense, the aesthetic regime could be said to seek the displacement of hierarchies regarding both the conception of art and that of oligarchic orderings within the social; [6] “it posits that art is the occasion for an experience that disrupts the result of the domination in everyday life.” Art’s power to impact the sensible distribution lies exactly in the ambiguous and complicated relationship between art and life highlighted in the aesthetic regime. [7] While the aesthetic regime displaces the previous two regimes, it does not surpass them. It exhibits a particularly strong tension with the representative regime for its ability to just give the impression of equality. How such false image of re-distribution works I think becomes relevant if we follow the example of women artists’ place throughout art history. Whereas eighteenth century painters like Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser got to take part and be founding members of the British Royal Academy, they were not allowed around the male models to be studied, but had to conform to flower painting or to decorative and early grains of romanticism. They were to respect the cultural assumption which established women’s ‘natural’ role and capacities, and accordingly, what subjects they should devote their attention to. For the study of ‘relevant themes of classical past’, these women artists were mere representations painted on the chamber wall, by one of the male leaders of academia. [8] It is needless to recall any other names and other periods to show how such ‘redistributions’ were perpetuated, discursively of course, not practiced. The use of representations as means to reflect a redistribution can be sensed as well in today’s frequent use of the term representation itself to denote a wide range of imagery drawn from popular culture, media, and photography as well as what we continue to call fine arts: painting and sculpture.

On the same historical structure, fashion operates within the aesthetic regime of art. Clothes, style and conduct were taken into consideration as fashion (both in practice and as a subject of critique) particularly in the slow breakdown of hierarchies from the late eighteenth century onwards. Literature is the first to surprise and identify in clothing and styling the relationship of art and common life. As the editor herself emphasizes, the examples considered by Rancière in order to reveal the beginning of an equality of subject matters in art, namely through Flaubert or Balzac, use depictions of clothing and style, and the attitude towards them. Baudelaire and his dandy are not to be forgotten either, since the poet implies fashion in the self-styling. But if Flaubert metaphorically suggested the social clash as a matter of lifestyle within a financial background, Baudelaire pinpoints more pregnant to it, defining fashion in terms of a ‘political economy of the performative self.’ [9] In this context, fashion’s role in re-presenting society with restructuring images of the social, has led some fashion theoreticians like Gilles Lipovetsky to give it a central role in contemporary democracies which have set the path for consumerism and mass-communication, where “one no longer imitates one’s betters, one imitates what sees in the vicinity.” [10] Even in this optimist assumption, fashion is still perceived between soften hierarchies and normalization of the imitation game.

Rancière’s aesthetic regime is particularly relevant in the context of globalization and capitalism, encompassing geographical, cultural and biopolitical considerations. Elke Gaugele underlines fashion’s ability to create ‘fictions’ as art and politics do, namely constant rearrangements between “what is seen and what is said, between what is done and what could be done.” [11] The aesthetic regime relates to creative processes and strategies which impact, alter, and transform our everyday normative perceptions. But it also shows how fashion and forms of artistic practice appear at the convergence of economic and artistic logics, and reflect the broad spectrums of the process of capitalist globalization. In this context, the three regimes still at work reveal functions and effects of aesthetics and politics, expressed through different intensities. [12]

Thus, instead of advocating too easily the vantage point of fashion as art on the basis of its creative designs and the blurred line between artistic domains, Elke Gaugele proposes the perspective of an aesthetic metapolitics, in the form of critique emerged within the arts. What Rancière names metapolitics follows the Marxist doctrine that sees relations between people to be determined by an economic order and not by a political one: there are those who are exploited and those who exploit. Political relations among people only work to conceal this. Hence, the logic of metapolitics works as a demystification project and calls into question any form of rearrangements. The truth of politics is to be looked somewhere else than where presumably is made visible. [13] For fashion, this critical concept is correlated with Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello’s The New Spirit of Capitalism study which brings into scene the mutations the flexible neo-capitalism operates, and works as a means to disclose how critical artistic practices get to be incorporated into the economic system.

In this framework, the book unfolds fashion at the juncture of design, art, politics and global capitalism. The volume is divided in three parts, each of them with an explanatory introduction that sets a theoretical framework for fashion and outlines an aesthetic metapolitics. It draws schemata on aesthetic economy or market strategies in fashion, space production conveying presence and presentation, and alternative politics (on the perception of otherness). The opening chapter, Aesthetic Economies of Fashion, analyzes visualization strategies in fashion and their implications. Eva Flickr’s preface notes fashion as both material and as a means of communication inscribed in socio-cultural dynamics. Rancière’s aesthetic framework of the visible is mingled with aesthetic in a more ‘mundane’ sense, namely the style/form of a commodity which is calculated within a market. As Joanne Entwistle discusses elsewhere, fashion constitutes an aesthetic market where aesthetic value is not something added, but the product itself. [14] Aesthetic commodities as are those of fashion, are mostly problematic in that they take upon themselves issues of beauty, style and design, all of which are properties subjected to change over time and across different social spaces. [15] In this sense, the chapter focuses on strategies that generate aesthetic value through collective or individual activities and practices within the production field. Attraction, of course, becomes the main key. Since fashion or dress (as self-technologies and representations) is one of the ways in which economic structures are produced and reproduced [16], it counts on the relations between actors in fashion and art, in terms of producers, communicators and consumers, in order to show what sort of ‘distinctions’ are at play today and what social distributions they imagine.

Birke Sturm’s The Tension of Mallarmé’s Deception: Temporal, Territorial and Financial Economies in Fashion, takes a closer look to the historical legacy of fashion magazines strategies and their media building based on the intriguing and artsy fashion magazine: La dernière mode. Through feminine pseudonyms the poet Mallarmé proposed fashion, culinary, decorative and reading advices which, as Sturm points out, imagined roles for women and a style for the upper class, constructing an image for a distribution. Nevertheless, this distribution created a tension in relation to perceptions of fashion being frivolous, and that because it asserted more serious roles for women provided that they should ‘dress’ their soul as well. [17] What the columns also read up was the territorial boundaries and the problematic frame of exoticism in the trait of that time. Other nuances of aesthetic strategies and social distributions through imbrications of different visual fields are unfolding into following texts. Endora Comer-Ardl deals with celebrity culture as means for creating aesthetic value. While such connections first applied to movie stars, linking movie costumes and fashion design, they predominantly employed ways of representation. Since contemporaneity abounds in media icons and wealthy young heirs, the essay underlines the new value of ‘luxury’ and the material distinction, where fashion constantly creates new hierarchies, with celebrities becoming the new upper echelon. Image making, celebrity and creative crossovers are taken further by Monica Titton’s essay on the series of artistic collaborations initiated by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton. Relying on Andy Warhol’s heritage of popular culture, art celebrities and fashion styling, it reveals how artists contribute to the production of fashion visible codes. The question posed here concerns both artist and designer’s status in the tension raised by economic value and the concepts of authorship and singularity.

Since fashion and art have developed mutual exchanges which encompass the simple influence of art in design, with fashion corporates like LVMH (Louis Vuitton-Moët Hennessy) and Kering sponsoring art fairs and art exhibitions, how could collaboration between fashion and art still stir modes of critique if they meet on shared markets? This matter is addressed by Ilka Becker based on the ‘multiple visibilities that flexible consumerism produces.’ [18] In Life Which Writes Itself: Retrospecting Art, Fashion and Photography in Bernadette Corporation, through the work of BC the author investigates strategies which elude the fashionable forms of critique. The art collective employs different media, linking fashion projects, novels, film and objects. For the fashion projects they’ve frequently blended designed pieces, thrift shop acquired brand items or Chinese counterfeits, bringing forth among other things immigration and middle-class or low class references. Yet these elements are not cut up clean and presented as such, but part of a self-fashioning similar with the one in everyday life. Fashion images, prints or video are accompanied by strange poems and visual effects, in contradictive assemblies that raise questions on how meaning can still be asserted to them. In support of their refusal to assume identities, the author uses Ulrich Bröckling’s frame of ‘being different differently’, which comes as a deviance from the norm, but from the norm of originality and trying to be different which fashion promotes. Along these lines BC productions can be said to reflect Rancière’s mixture of art and everydayness where, on the one hand, art comes to reflect something else than representation, and, on the other hand, its mixtures of predominantly everydayness aspects do not imply becoming everydayness. It is the way of thinking art and about it that makes that ‘something else’ hard to pinpoint. In referring to ways of exhibiting, Ilka Becker’s essay also traces a subtle connection to the problematic of display and, inherently, that of space, which makes the thematic of the following chapter.

Fashion and the Production of Space identifies forms of space in which fashion not only operates, but socially products. Barbara Schrödl draws the perspective upon fashion strategies and ways of space creation based on the topological turn, namely the space of presentation and experience developed from Marxist sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre. According to him, the production of space is a process which ties together the perceived, devised (the represented) and the experienced space. Gertrud Lehnert has extrapolated the scheme in fashion terms, namely “fashion as space, fashion adopting body techniques, settings: spaces/places”. [19] This approach to fashion is first reflected in the fashion editorial It All Started with a Bicycle by Tanja Bradaric and Taro Ohmae for their Spring/Summer 2013 collection. The concept and the cloth design integrate space both outside the body and in its relationship to clothing. The dress designs play with the boundaries of dressing the body between material compact surface and the ‘window’ like cuts, or the difference between shielding and sprawling cloths and bodies [20] The space relationship to clothing brought me to Foucault’s model of architectural discipline, easily appropriated for the dress. Like architecture, fashion relates to ideas of personal, social and cultural identity; it provides shelter and protection for the body while also creating space and volume for it. In this context, dress divides social space according to bodies, but it also divides the body in accordance with the composition of the clothing, thus making the space of in-between intelligible and controllable. However, as Foucault emphasizes, the boundary is not rigid, but adaptable and allowing transgressions. [21] Those cuts like windows into clothing make the wearer aware of clothing’s movement, the space it creates for the body, but also provides a new body composition/image for the viewer.

Alicia Kühl approaches the more traditional concept of fashion show, analyzing Michael Michalsky’s fashion presentation of his 2009 Fall/Winter collection Saints and Sinners set at the Protestant Zion Church of the Sophien Parish in Berlin. In the essay the author explores how different understandings of space fuse together into the actual space. She subsequently analyses the place, the location and the imaginary space created, since the imagined space usually functions together with a particular location; atmosphere and symbolic references hold the key for enveloping fashion show viewers and endow the space with meaning thus serving the designer’s creations. Through personal insights and a topology-based theoretical frame, Alicia Kühl accounts for space articulation and the contradictions between communities in their use of it, their different understanding of the same space. While fashion show can be said to be an exclusivist medium, other media of visibility enter the scene as Sabina Muriale’s interest for fashion film reveals. The essay debates the exclusion/inclusion issue within fashion industries and surprises recent changes in ways of fashion display in the context of today’s global accessibility. Yet, in spite of assumptions to democratize fashion and the new communities of fashion commenters the internet creates, fashion presentations (be it fashion show, their streaming or fashion films) are a question of image linked to commercial interests. Fashion film seems to be at the core of such debates because it encompasses a highly artistic connection also. Marginal ways of visibility are under spotlight in Michael R. Muller’s essay The Waywardness of Fashion: Society in the Subjunctive, discussing liminality in fashion, from body mouldings to image understanding. As Michel R. Muller points, aesthetics is not only concerned with reflecting the social but with giving it form. On the one hand, the form is often normalized by specific images which are medially organized; on the other hand, aesthetic interventions constitute also tools to create disorder. Liminality represents a borderline within a discourses encompassing the material and the symbolic, the real and surreal, the subjective and objective. Its aesthetic confronts everyday order with unusual perspectives or codes of behavior and as such seeks for new societal forms and other spaces. The author follows strategies of body and image renderings that can account for the marginal and liminality in both art and fashion and the complicated relationship they stir when incorporated by the economic system, as with subcultures. Such spaces, usually left out of general sight, could be considered sites under construction, which give rise to new relations between form and content, between manners of comprehension, and thus constitute sources of imagination, of the creative. [22] However, as the author puts it, the everyday dynamics and liminal expressions becomes socially visible through pictorial media, while materiality seems increasingly left aside. [23]

Materiality and the significance imbued in artifacts is the thematic of the last chapter, Alternative Aesthetic Politics, which considers contemporary resurfaced issues of decolonization, whiteness, and the new mantra of eco design production, as well as their formatting of communities. Through a record of historical, theoretical and political implications that characterize the relationship between occident and orient, the introduction made by Elke Gaugele and Monica Titton explains some of the discourses that envelope the points in question. The exoticization of places and costumes or the tendency to include black and Asian models on the runway and in fashion photography, are amongst the blatant strategies which claim equality in fashion, yet they work mainly as representations of and not an actual social reorganization of perception. In this sense, the effects of globalization and the capitalism network are dissected from a double perspective, fashion industry and fashion as aesthetic metapolitics, relying on materiality and critical studies at their core. In other words, the essays from this chapter shed light on the reclamation of minorities and their identities through style, and what are the outcomes beside the already normalized images of alternative practice. On this subject, I recall an article of Minh-ha T. Paham over Chinese fashion market – now an economic boom and the ‘new luxury market’ –, that debated strategies and image-making that European fashion brands make use of in fashion shows and production. Some of the collections were trying to adapt their European pattern to ‘Asian sensibilities in look, feel and size’ thus articulating once more the white superiority regarding progress and their ‘fairness’ in attempting to be politically correct. However, not only they had few Asian models on the runway in a country that was Asian, it culminated with Burberry chief creative officer Christopher Bailey’s statement after the fashion house presentation in 2009 that: “It is a huge privilege to be flying the flag for Britain in the magnificent city of ­Beijing”, metaphorically implying colonialist reminiscences. [24] Rubi Sircar engages particularly in such problems of hidden political realism but regarding today’s exchanges between India and the Western fashion. Her essay Dressing the Tiger: Decolonization and Style Racism in South-Asian Fashion provides a scrupulous critical inquiry of political connections and local production with insights on textile significance for the image-making of India in Europe and vice-versa. Tracing the fashion history in modern India, the author’s endeavour brings forth textile and style identification in visual cultures at the juncture of repeated racisms as well as hidden emancipatory traces. These aspects are interesting since they speak about economic and signifying terms referring to both parties. Her analysis discloses how from western perspective, in spite of the territorial style India has achieved for itself, references to it are still distorted, visual mishmashes resembling to what colonialism defined as Hinduism, thus a perpetuation of exotism. If Indian market became open to western high end or street brands, and in reverse Indian designers being recognized onto fashion scene, however, most textiles and designs produced by Indian fashion houses are purchased and addressed to oriental and Asian luxury buyers. Yet Rubi Sircar sees in the growing of the eco-friendly and nationalist bourgeoisie use of hand loomed material certain ideas of ‘regional self-empowerment’ which survived. [25] In the same line of interest towards the oriental and the significance some materials hold, Martina Fineder takes up the ‘revolution’ of jute bag in Germany as a sign of environmental statement and alternative life style on the background of environmental awareness from the 60’s and 70’s onwards. The ‘Jute not Plastic’ bag inspired ethical consumption in regard to material pollution, but also raised awareness of economic discrepancies between western and what came to be called ‘the third world.’ Martina Fineder follows practices of design developed from such movements and analyzes the economic exploitation of consumption and design in terms of symbolic affiliations and ways for individuals to engage in social change and alternative political sensibilities.

Based on Rancière’s distrust of turning aesthetics into ethics, Elke Gaugele investigates the aspects of contemporary environmental crisis but inside the fashion system itself. The Ethical Turn in Fashion. Policies of Governance and the Fashioning of Social Critique focuses firstly on Vivienne Westwood’s ‘Climate Revolution’ and Bruno Pieters’ project/label Honest by, as political frameworks that entangle numerous issues of social differences, global hierarchies or economic capital that reveal the commodification of trust and honesty in fashion as part of the western discourse of social responsibility and environmental consciousness. The author’s preference for them is due to similarities they share in terms of interest towards social, economic and environmental issues but also in their imagining of otherness. In 2012, both of them depicted an African model with a green painted face as symbol of mother Africa and environment awareness. Yet, as the author suggests, “images seem to represent a model of noble savage expressing western ecological awareness.” [26] If I were to make a comparison in art, I would say that it much reassembles Gaugain’s representations of the idealized primitive ‘savage’ beatitude, contrasting western ways of life. It was nonetheless an outsider’s perspective since in fact he benefited from all white privileges when in Tahiti. In fashion and not only, Africa seems to serve as the perfect symbol for the now-in-ruin cradle of humanity for which everyone is keen to show symbolic support. In this key, one should keep in mind that even in their social critique statements, designs are involved in image making, and cloths are still consumption, just with the added value of the ‘right thing to do.’ Thus they have their dark facet. Elke Gaugele brings it in discussion with the case of United Union’s shift into more active engagements towards working conditions for undeveloped countries. Establishing partnerships with fashion industries the UN created work places for women in need, but it continues to be an exploitation of their craftsmanship, as well as an embracing of the luxury market. The ethical turn in fashion, as Elke Gaugele emphasizes, gets to create other kind of hierarchies on the difference between good consumers: sensitive to environment and global issues, promoting honesty and transparency; and bad consumers, the cohort of waste culture. The financial structures underneath and the power at play reveal Chiapello and Boltanski’s formulation of the new spirit of a flexible capitalism, where global capitalism integrates social critique and artist critique into its system, and transform it into its generative motors. The white supremacy issues is the subject of Brigit Haehnel Performing Whiteness: Revisioning White Textiles in Visual Cultures. The study unravels the relationship between white clothes and whiteness in fashion, and focuses on strategies of subversion regarding the ongoing process of creating representations of white dominant culture in terms of mental images and stereotypes. Confronting fashion media imagery and art works regarding white dress, the author brings forth strategies through which visual structures get to format images, but also how ‘bizarre’ representations disclose the structures at work.

The book is a thematic assemblage that establishes multiple links between the subjects and covers various perspectives of the relationship between fashion practices and collective sense of communities. One should never forget that identity lies at the core of all issues since we construct and are moulded by means of representation, practice and consumerism. In the fashion world the play between aesthetics as distribution and aesthetics as attraction holds quite of a tension. Attraction becomes the locus as it encompasses a double facet: on the one hand, it is the motor of the economic factor, since attraction works for enhancing buyers, so it is the main argument adverted when exposing how fashion only gives the appearance of something as being critical when in fact it just applies another market strategy. On the other hand, on the same basis of enhancing the viewer, attraction holds the possibility for politics in that it calls attention upon something at times eerie, disruptive in the act of seeing. It is here that the play between the beautiful and the uncanny becomes relevant. Like the grotesque or the abject, the uncanny cannot be defined within a strict frame since it is based on personal experiences of familiarity and strangeness, obscure and prominent at the same time. The uncanny releases conflicting feelings of repulsion and fascination that create tension towards the unknown when the imaginary can quickly be actualized as something seemingly real. Varying degrees and intensities of the familiar, the beautiful, the violent or the brutal converge and blur distinctions between the real and imagination to create a haunting aesthetic experience. This also leads to what Michael R. Muller called liminal aesthetics, which enables a confrontation between normative ways of seeing and ‘improbable possibilities of perception.’ [27] This could be extrapolated to images as artifacts and the atmosphere/space they can give rise to. In Rancière’s perspective, politics are tied first of all to a way of thinking where emancipation from a matrix of perceiving and acting is of crucial importance because, as the philosopher himself puts it: emancipation starts “when we realize that looking is also an action that confirms or modifies the distribution, and that interpreting the world is already a means for transforming it, reconfiguring it.” [28] It is also in his schemata that the artifacts and the images are fueled with an infinite capacity to generate meaning. Thus, their mute speech demands ever new efforts as to be deciphered, and always hold within the capacity of rearrangement. In this context, the ambivalence of fashion is not to be thrown away, because it is through its double nature that fashion always seems to escape us and what makes it still opened for politics – for the appearance of that which was excluded –, for other discursive proponents and not least, other ways of being in the world, inscribing and carrying out bodies.

Readers may find it difficult that numerous referential studies and interesting works cited, like Gertrud Lehnert’s Räume der Mode, together with the authors’ expanded works give rise to language barriers for non-German speakers, but this also emphasizes the increasingly vibrant interest in fashion of this connected community of authors. The study of fashion has emerged relatively recent and is still to gain its proper place among academia. Traditional weighty writings of fashion fell mainly into philosophers’ boat where criticism and moral criticism played the main part, associating fashion with the frills and the frivolous, the ephemeral, or the artifice. The aesthetic regime recognizes the consequently blurred lines between domains and disciplines, and as such opens up less constrictive spaces of writing in the first place. In other words, the aesthetic regime works towards a perpetual democratization of subjects where issues which were not considered to be significantly relevant now share their own part. Thus, even if the articles of Aesthetic Politics in Fashion are critical of fashion, they do not condemn it. Rather, they emphasize how specific changes of images and practices put on the appearance of liberation but remain no more than a mask which puts in place another distribution.


February 27, 2015

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