Dangerous Liaisons: Art, Fashion and Individualism
Author: Radford, Robert
Source: Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, Volume 2, Number 2, May 1998 , pp. 151-163(13)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Journals (formerly Berg Journals)
Abstract:Throughout commentaries, there has been an almost unquestioned belief that an essential feature of the nature of art is that it should demonstrate endurance and truth. Fashion has been represented as art’s “other”. Until relatively recently it has acquired no laudatory history, no museum of example, no philosophy or critique. It seemed that fashion totally conflicts with concepts of permanence, truth and authenticity. However, this system of values has recently shifted, now that postmodernity and the demonstrations of the New Art History have exposed the insecurity of art’s ideas and have established a widespread cultural permission to recognize the new authenticity of fashion, in the sense that it reflects and communicates the values and anthropological truths of contemporary experience. Increasingly critics and curators are convincing us of the growing proximity between the practices of Art and Fashion. Radford argues that art has been progressively taking on certain qualities mainly associated with fashion, namely seduction, ephemerality, and discrimination within a genre; but doubts that an equivalent transition has emerged out of fashion’s relations with art. He compares art and fashion in terms of visual culture, material culture, economic function, and sociological function. The article concludes that fashion conquers and infiltrates all areas of social, cultural and academic enterprise. Inevitably art is subsumed within these processes; but to maintain its distance and purpose it retains resistance via irony and skepticism.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1998
Fashion Theory takes as its starting point a definition of “fashion” as the cultural construction of the embodied identity. The importance of studying the body as a site for the deployment of discourses has been well established in a number of disciplines. Until Fashion Theorys launch in 1997 the dressed body had suffered from a lack of critical analysis. Increasingly scholars have recognized the cultural significance of self-fashioning, including not only clothing but also such body alterations as tattooing and piercing.Fashion Theory provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for the rigorous analysis of cultural phenomena. Its peer-reviewed articles range from foot-binding to fashion advertising.