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Aug 17 2012

Fashion Friday: “The soaring heights and the greedy, murderous depths”: ceepolk

I’m taking a semi-break from blogging this week: mostly doing reprints, event announcements, cat pictures, street art pictures, reposting interesting comments, and so on.

So for this week’s Fashion Friday, I’m re-posting this comment that ceepolk made on last week’s Fashion Friday piece on fashion and money. It was an exceptionally insightful, extraordinarily beautiful piece of writing, and I thought it deserved more attention, so I’m pulling it out in this post.

I get you about fashion. I love it. I’ve always loved it. for as long as I can remember I have engaged with clothing – as a child I would look at coffee table books of fashion, the history of fashion, and current magazines. I wanted to be a fashion designer when i grew up. And I was poor. Well, I still am.

i get you about how fashion is art and art costs money. I have tried to explain to people that the extensive wardrobes they worry about maintaining and changing every season taints their perception of what clothing is worth and why I always, always refuse to make anyone a single piece of apparel, period, because fashion is a complex skill and skills cost money. I’m happy they love the whateveritis that I’m wearing that they think is beautiful, and that some of them are gobsmacked when they discover that I made it, but they ruin the conversation quickly by expecting me to use hard won years of skill and practice to make them something and they offer to pay for the cost of materials (and often estimate a price that isn’t even half that.)

I’m happy to see a post on the deeply complex implications of fashion. I have never found a clear answer that ties up all of the influences, intersections, and interstices in grosgrain ribbon in the colour of your choice (mine shall always and forever be imperial purple no matter what Pantone declares is in this season.) Fashion, more than any other art, has taught me how to enjoy something that is inherently and permanently problematic. And the best I can do is this –

Alexander McQueen was an artist. He combined the beautiful and the political in ways that make my heart pound and my skin shiver. I can say the same thing about a lot of artists. I never stop being aware that fashion is and has always been steeped in classism and sexism and racism, that fashion has unbelievable influence on our individual self-image and regularly shapes the image of human beauty.

A color wheel and a sartorial task that requires it is is better than most drugs as far as i’m concerned. The woman who made my panties is exploited and at risk of violence and rape that she has to endure just to keep that job, and she has that job because white western capitalists have dismantled every worker protection fought and won here. I move through cosmetic, fabric and yarn stores in a meditation that I think a lot of artists can understand. I engage with it and everything starts to flow in a series of beautiful moments, because i love these things. Millions of people over centuries have suffered and died because a certain cloth, a certain shade of a certain hue, a certain shell or stone or animal bone was the object of desire. I love the finished work of fashion, and I love making clothing, I love being able to look at a finished garment and *see* the structure and components that make it.

Fashion is as true an expression of humanity as any art could be, because it expresses the soaring heights and the greedy, murderous depths in every thread, no matter what you wear or how it came to exist.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    …Oh…

    I get it now.

    I’m very sorry, but I’ve completely skipped all your Fashion Friday posts. And now I realize I’ve missed out on something of value.

    Thank you, ceepolk, you just made my world a little bigger.

  2. 2
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    That truly is amazing and insightful. Applause!

  3. 3
    KT

    McQueen is such a great example. One piece of his which I think exemplifies fashion as art is the red gown in the first photo at this link: http://leberpr.blogs.com/lovepr/2009/03/mcqueen-fashion-throwdown.html

    It is a piece of art that is very easy to see and feel. The top of the gown is very tailored and structured and the print is a very traditional and straitlaced houndstooth pattern. As the bodice flows into the skirt, the fabric and cut becomes loose and flows into big poufy waves while the houndstooth transforms into birds. It is at once a gorgeous gown and an expression of a transformation from restriction to freedom. It is very much art and worth every penny just for its existence.

    I am envious of those who can do this for themselves. My grandmother was an artist with needle and thread,who made award-winning quilts, but I never had the knack for it. I deal best in the intuitive and imprecise so I turned out a gardener and cook. I don’t ever feel like I am making art but I sometimes feel like I’m doing magic instead. ;)

  4. 4
    Marcus Ranum

    Ever see the book of fashion photos by Skrebneski?? It warped me.
    If you’re into fashion, this is died and gone to heaven stuff…
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Haute-Couture-Laura-Jacobs/dp/0789200228/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1345303920&sr=8-3&keywords=skrebneski+fashion

  5. 5
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Speaking of fashion, apparently denim shorts were declared unacceptable sometime recently.

    1) anyone know if this is true?
    2) what the FUCK?

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