[In]Tangible: Redressing Fashion

My brilliant course mates on the MA History and Culture of Fashion course at London College of Fashion have resurrected a previously disused course blog because we felt that it would be a great opportunity to showcase our research and interests. Our editor, Gaba, and picture editor, Julie, have implemented a brilliant redesign (which I keep thinking about stealing for this blog!), and we’re hoping to publish two articles a week (Thursday and Thursday).

We re-launched at the beginning of November under the name [In]Tangible: Redressing Fashion. To coincide with Amy de la Haye’s wonderful exhibition, Coco Chanel: A New Portrait by Marion Pike, Paris 1967-71, at the college’s Fashion Space Gallery on John Princes Street, the theme of the first month was Ground Breakers. Articles varied from Teleica’s examination of Rick Owens and the ABWs, to Giuppy’s analysis of Anna Dello Russo as a fashion icon (or victim), and Olexa’s look at the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher.

My own blog post went live last week too, “The History and Culture of The F-word“, which summarised ideas I wrote about in September regarding the definition and perception of fashion.  I’m really interested in how people connect with and define the term ‘fashion’. Particularly individuals that perceive it as something frivolous or unimportant, yet appear to be fully clothed.

We’re just about to launch next months theme, so if you’re interested in fashion, style, dress history or cultural analysis please do take a look at [In]Tangible and let us know what you think.

Fear and Clothing

When I tell people that I study the History and Culture of Fashion I experience everything from eye-rolling to audible snorts of derision. I’m not pretending that I’m studying medicine, aerospace engineering or quantum physics. I’m choosing to study a cultural phenomenon, and writing about it as a scholar. Of course I do understand, and anticipate, this reaction to the “F” word. It’s just clothes, right? How can clothes mean anything? The term “fashion” has so many definitions and the industry encompasses so many disciplines – journalism, buying, visual merchandising, PR, retail, designing, modelling – that for those who don’t understand the business of fashion it’s difficult to shake the image of Lady Gaga out of people’s heads.

I think people scorn fashion because it seems frivolous and unimportant. At the beginning of the documentary The September Issue, Anna Wintour tells the interviewer, “I think what I often see it that people are frightened about fashion; because it scares them or makes them feel insecure they just put it down. On the whole, people that say demeaning things about our world I think that’s usually because they feel, in some ways, excluded or, you know, not a part of ‘the cool group’, so as a result they just mock it…There is something about fashion that can make people really nervous.” Later Wintour explains that her siblings, one of whom is political editor of The Guardian, Patrick Wintour, think that what she does is, “very silly”.