Cold, Coldness, Coolness: Remarks on the Relationship of Dress, Body and Technology

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The article deals with the origins of the attitude of coolness in relation to body and dress in the beginnings of the 20th century. For the first time, the appearance of coolness can be noticed in the context of technology and army: aviation and cars. In these contexts, coolness contributed to a new kind of military (male) representation in affecting deeply bodily posture and behaviour. Corporal strength was becoming less important instead mastering of nerves and skillness were demanded as future qualities. Also the appearance of dress changed. Leather and fur were favoured as materials. Since then, these materials belong to the surrounding of technology (bikers) and contrast with the hard, firm material of technical surroundings. Material and technology are experienced through special bodily feelings which transform the traditional social perception of dress into a sensual perception of dress as immediate surrounding. In the future, it will even more strongly articulate a new syntactical feeling between the human body, fashion and environment, in which the traditional aesthetics of the body will perhaps no longer play an important role. Women are admitted to the technical sphere as decoration or in order to calm down cultural fears of technological innovations. However, the fashion press makes them familiar with modern materials and thus includes them in the process of modernity.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • 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.
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