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Fashion: From attitudes to poses

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Borrowing some of Aby Warburg’s methods from his Mnemosyne Atlas, this paper experiments with an anti-linear, non-teleological method of writing fashion history. It investigates fashion movement, gesture and pose, and their afterlife in images and objects. It thus looks at the intersection of time and the gesture, particularly in relation to the idea of the ‘now’, a central organising principle of fashion. To this end, it juxtaposes images of the body in motion from a wide range of sources, including scientific photography, etiquette manuals and fashion magazines. Spanning three centuries, though not chronologically, the images show a range of activities: not only fashion posing, but also tennis-playing, duelling, dancing, military marching, social gestures, and going to the races. The paper proposes that each image is charged with some quality or attribute that is also immanent in one or more of the others, even though they have no causal or temporal relationship.
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Keywords: fashion; gesture; image; movement; pose; time

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of the Arts London

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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  • Philosophy of Photography is a new peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of photography. It is not committed to any one notion of photography nor, indeed, to any particular philosophical approach. The purpose of the journal is to provide a forum for debate on theoretical issues arising from the historical, political, cultural, scientific and critical matrix of ideas, practices and techniques that may be said to constitute photography as a multifaceted form. In a contemporary context remarkable for its diversity and rate of change, the conjunction of the terms 'philosophy' and 'photography' in the journal's title is intended to act as a provocation to serious reflection on the ways in which existing and emergent photographic discourses might engage with and inform each other.
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