“Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it - that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing - an actor, a writer - I am a person who does things - I write, I act - and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”—Stephen Fry (via mercurieux)
So... what youre saying is fuck the fashion system?
No, yes, and maybe.
The opportunity to study beauty, fashion, and dress as both material and visual exists. It’s out there. They’re evidence of systems and processes — both the social and economic. They can be areas of critique, contemplation, and creation.
Yet most of the time fashion is perceived as purely visual. It’s mostly written about in the form of storytelling or recording. And I’m sick of seeing fashion and dress simply recorded, described, or analyzed. Because fashion and dress isn’t just about icons, designer collections, institutionally accepted historical styles, or isolated to the cut-and-sew and marketing of labels. Beauty, fashion, and dress have the capability to be engaging and challenging.
Across the board fashion reveals both the visible and the invisible. It ranges from objects and images that can be seen, to the layers of meaning, as well as reflections on perspectives and experiences. If you’re talking about the workmanship of courturiers you need to discuss the workers in our studios and factories. Fashion is as much about content as it is process, and concepts as much as tangible objects you can touch and feel.
Fashion has long been a gendered term, interest, and practice. Due to its focus on the body it’s considered trivial, vapid, and intellectually insignificant (at best) and very unlike its counterpart the brain which is masculine and paramount. The classic definition upheld by those like Barthes is fashion as an institution, where dress is an encompassing term for the decoration of the body. And it’s crucial to acknowledge fashion as the exploitative and oppressive institution it‘s always been (i.e. fashion has long been a tool for colonialism). As our relationship with words like “fashion” develop we need to discuss what the very meaning of these catch-all terms like “style,” “dress,” and “beauty” even mean.
But we need to understand that fashion/dress no longer have to look upward to be relevant or important. That beauty, fashion, and dress are viable creative and theoretical practices. That they no longer need to be legitimized or justified by linking themselves with art. That they are enough on their own.
So I think it’s important for young people to realize there are no boundaries with how you can study, destroy, create, and discuss beauty, fashion, and dress. If working for a magazine or starting one is a dream or goal of your’s, then put together some zines and set up shop at a local book or zine fair. Ask local bookstores if they have a zine section or if they’d be interested in carrying your’s. i-D, Dazed & Confused, and many more started out as small community zines. There is the opportunity for zines, magazines, community clothing drives, installations, parking lot flea markets, performances, presentations, startups, and interactive spaces.
The ways we can communicate about garments and dress are infinite, it’s literally boundless. And their importance is far wider then the narrow and secluded parameters that they’ve been assigned, and then upheld by gate keeping.