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Fashion Concept. Apperception of aesthetical signs. Victor Aquino, 2001, 2006 WEA Books & Publishing Inc. Monroe, LA USA
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Lots of people, when discussing fashion, still tend to associate this to four basic items: modern clothing, new clothing, nice clothing, and expensive clothing, all related to a specific article of clothing. And those who share the same thoughts, the ones who often function as a reference guide to the object at issue, regard to a specific class of user whose features coincide to tastes and wear styles as many famous people all over the world. It shall not be mentioned, however, that the informal way of defining fashion, or refer to its users, mainly those from the artistic environment, that is entirely false, rarely true. One thing that is strongly pointed out, notably
from data recently available about this matter, is the capability fashion has on awakening people interests, even among those who seem not to be interested in it at all. Over the last few years, because of what advertising transformations has been apparently going through, causing the impression that announcements and campaigns have turned into truthful “small shows”, fashion has played an important role among them. Fashion has practically assumed the function of being present time identifier, and of such important to the trademark that, above all, shall be considered contemporaneous. Its role, notably by the clothes wore by the ones who play a role in its release, become vital to the identification of present time invariable circumstance because it is not only the merchandises presented in these announcements and campaigns only, but also the whole universe of image that shall be from present-day. However, nothing has been more adequate to showing present-day then the use of clothes, whose modernity features links to today's fashion. That is the reason why this stratagem resort is verified in all advertisement. Voluntarily and involuntarily, advertising campaigns (of any product or service) make use of human figures wearing clothes cut,
colors and modern patterns. And the relation of advertising message to contemporaneous, when it suits, is established throughout this action. If publicity turned itself into being a kind of entertainment also, in which the meaning of the advertisement converts itself to a small show, fashion has contributed to modifying the real meaning of clothes as well. And from being a wrap only, nice or not, new, old, or expensive, fashion has always been associated more to the wear need that everyone has than to the meaning of what is assumed from that which understood as absorption of fashion real meaning. Such absorption occurs, above all, from the role fashion has as merchandise because in such nature, fashion plays the role of being consumed and, for that to happen, it needs to be permanently redone. And that gets to such an extent that no one, no consumer, is entirely satisfied with the clothes they already have. Consumption, however, becomes fashion greatest justification stand. Yet, not only fashion, but also publicity are all independent processes. And the relation among those occurs strictly in the consumption level only, from something that is beyond clothes. This paper, when accomplished, due to the first proofreading of the work entitled the
same, published by CEM/Livros, also coincide with the ending of the homonymous research, accomplished between 1996 and 1999 at ECA Escola de Comunicacoes e Artes (Art and Communication School) at USP. Practically during all efforts when collecting data, in constant massive meetings with members of the task group, the main trouble during all this project regarded bibliographic options available about this matter. Often, discussions points were predominant during those meetings: what would be the nature of the tasks whose readings always refer to conclusions of specific nature and which are beyond the issue fashion, so to speak?
Beginning with the title that appeared in Brazil before the 80's, and that today is of little used in specific fashion studies, there are, alike, works that arose in the country, itself which are destined to the information of non technical content. Besides, among these and many other similar works, the one from the author himself shall be mentioned. Some of these master thesis and dissertation, as sporadic articles in several publications, are as lacking in study assignment as in using fashion as a working field. Strictly in the market diffusion field, this field is occupied by publicity, a field that publicity itself has played different roles, fashion is, more and more, exerting a mediating function of the human being contemporaneous images. This has been evident, as perceived
from the utilization of announcements and campaigns “characters” marked by a visual unmistakably contemporaneous. Such visual, of course, is identified by the use of clothes whose form corresponds to cut, colors and modern patterns, a relation that, of course, is associated to a contemporary pattern to be flowed by fashion. Thus, it shall be mentioned that it has been through clothes that publicity establishes its insertion in the limits of modernity. And, likewise, it has been through publicity that fashion is promoted to play a supporting role in marketing process, which makes it to be associated more and more to an utilitarian purpose of a marketing instrument, its more modern entertainment function.
Fashion is a transitory incorporation process of patterns and models of clothes, which occurs in a cultural transition determined by the velocity of elements, that come in and out of people daily lives. These elements, or attributes, numbered in thirteen, are conjugate among themselves according to the predisposition in which, voluntarily or involuntarily, creators, raw material producers, dealers, brands, and users, all of those interact. Such attributes, which includes clothes cultural, social and behavioral nature, however, determine the aesthetic pattern from those it is created, produced, marketed and used. The attributes that interferes in the clothes pattern and models transitory incorporation process, as it is established, interactively, a meaning to utility of the term
fashion, also condition the respective process. They are: (1) fantasy, (2) rupture, (3) newness, (4) youth, (5) modernity, (6) originality, (7) transitoriness, (8) triviality, (9) luxury, (10) beauté, (11) style, (12) utility, (13) consumption idealization. However, it happens that these attributes activate fashion generating process, no matter who or what creates it, they also arise conditioned by correspondent functions which emerge from their own circumstances that makes them to interact to themselves. Fashion is a transitory incorporation process of clothes patterns and models, guided by thirteen distinct attributes: (1) fantasy, (2) rupture, (3) newness, (4) youth, (5) modernity, (6) originality, (7) transitoriness, (8) triviality, (9) luxury, (10) “beauté”, ( 11) style, (12) utility, (13) consumption idealization.
(1) “Fantasy” While Lifestyle A constant among fashion writers, specially among those who published their works by early the 90's, that is the relation they do between this and history habits. However,
fashion is, when considered modernity, conceived from the definition now outlined, corroborated by the transitoriness in which it comes in and out in the consumers’ idealization context. Although some writes, like Breward, for instance, consider that there are connections between fashion and the manipulation of the human identification by clothes, we shall never, of any kind whatsoever, infer a consumption “idealization constant” in the middle age, in the renaissance or even in the early 20's due to some references that would conduct to imitation on the clothes use. Although this would have happened, the permanence of patterns and the nonexistence of productive processes, which would allow renewal creation in contemporaneous patterns, beyond competition of the whole marketing process (including publicity), imposes a modification in the meaning for the term fashion. Not only in the “dream” aspect on the clothes use, but also in the “funky” aspect, very peculiar comprehension is established and that is the idealization universe from consumers. As perceived, idealization and fantasy are separated by a thin line, nearly unnoticeable. Fantasy is nearly a projection of itself over the context of one other, when idealization is the context incorporation of the
other when choosing and purchasing a piece of clothes. In this particular matter, as deduced from Elements of Style, fashion can be one alternative or the other.
(2) Rupture While Signalization Of Changes Nothing happens just by any chance, not even the maybes and perhaps. Everything is positively transformed into selling impulses, turned over to trademarks advantages, material, colors, patterns, designer names, type, and styles. By the end of each item cycle, everything converge to the improvement of a global process. One exception, however, shall be made. If everything converge at the end of each cycle, for the improvement of commercial opportunities, as to the improvement of the whole global process, at its start everything happens because of divergences. Most of the time the type and style appearing take place due to the reaction of the existing standards. It has been through the aggregation means that market, when taking these type and styles of
“protests”, turn itself into models whose innovation, fantasy, use, and so on, establishes it while fashion. The term “style”, much more than the term “type”, assumes herein the same meaning of its utilization in art, specially because fashion representations on its market are no more than disentailed initiatives of the subsequent marketing process. Mostly, models creation (when they are effectively disconnected creations from the productive system of collections produced by industries), are result of designers individual works. Those, when working on what should be a disconnected creation from industrial interests, would be producing art. “The conception that each new style represents a reaction to its precedent is specially plausible to modern artists, whose works are frequently the answer for another work that they consider their free projection of an irreducible personal feeling, but that should make their style competitive to others, by having the obsession of originality to their work as an evidence of their honesty. Besides, the creators of new patterns in the last century, nearly had to fight over the ones who used old fashioned practices; and many historic styles were formed in conscience opposition to the other practices - renaissance contra gothic,
baroque contra mannerism, neoclassic contra rococo etc”. Rupture is a manifest that, from initiatives of one o more creators, determines changes. Changes in the fashion style is the visible alteration in the design pattern, material used, color and so on. Rupture is the modification of the existing standards. Would rupture be then the conception of lines that neglects patterns and definitions of the style on the clothes use? Yes, because from conceptual modifications that transform itself to prior generalization of use. Then, In fashion any change shall be understood as prior modifications produced by itself over creators and consumers. Rupture is, above all, the attribute that lead fashion to the top of what is new, in short, no rupture with prior patterns, - therefore “old fashioned” -, would displace other patterns as old as familiar.
(3) “Newness” While Necessity From a very peculiar point of view, although Paul Valéry's saying is accepted: “la mode étant l'imitation de qui veut se distinguer par celui qui ne veut pas être distingué, il en résulte quelle change automatiquement”, we can not deny that fashion is innovation. The search for what is new, always important on conducting consumers and creators on seeking unusual patterns, can be considered as a law fundamental to fashion. The development of materials themselves, allowing the exaltation of newness in the market, ended up consolidating the principle of the attribute “newness” in the fashion process. Actually, this matter has been recalled in some contemporaneous work about such issue as a provocative to consumption curiosity that ends up consolidating - although transitorily - the consumption of new models. That is why the newness attribute convert itself to stratagem when style is related to high fashion. Often, if lacked of several other attributes inherent to it, such activity teamed up to style, which is high fashion, can mistake when classifying one another, a kind of trap that has caught many authors into it. It is not for being high fashion and being associated to attributes only, such as elegance and (mostly)
fantasy, that newness holds the meaning of this attribute. Some authors, however, although not evidencing this perspective, somehow excepted the mistake when considering productive function as chic of the elitist clothes production.
(4) “Youth” While Problem That which would be considered positive to a certain point from fashion process, resulting from the attribute “youth” constant in elements that lead to creation and clothes consumption, sometimes is converted into highly arguable data in the respective study. Thirty years ago, a seventy-year-old man, who would have come from the countryside to a big city, such as Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, when facing media, such as television, would certainly find out a new way of entertainment. But entertainment for this old man would be completely dissociated from TV's commercial
basic function that has always been “selling”. In this meaning, he would even apprehend announcements of audio and video, however not being sensitized by them. A character in such condition would hardly be a good audience for TV's commercial support. He would rarely acquire products of any kind, assumed any disposition in the purchasing of products of any nature, touched by publicity acts. Such data, very well known not only from marketing “experts” but also from publicists dedicated to the understanding of their work outcome, measured media action over younger audience. That is, the focusing on publicity efforts are addressed to a young audiences. Then, it can be assumed that fashion itself is bonded to the same age universe. Likewise, it should come to mind that not only rupture attributes but also of newness and modernity are more related to the youth consumer profile.
(5) “Modernity” While Circumstance Present-time is the component that implies in turning fashion into something “new”. As expected Baudelaire, “modernity” is the transitory, breaking, contingent; it is art's aiming, being the other everlasting and unchangeable. The concept of modern/modernity, transmuted onto post modern/post modernity, in fashion it comes to be somehow poor to establishing a present-time condition that is inherent to it. Because of that, this concept is not going to be discussed herein. Thus, in which concerns, the attribute of modernity is also fundamental. Contemporaneous society configuration, from its huge urban centers, in “tribes” assumes characteristics that make it understood by means of a “hegemony” of present-time. Often, fashion hegemonic present-time is part of a creation that is based in youthful conceptions. Therefore, styles generated upon the idea of “futurist”, such as “warp”, “cavern”, “club land” etc., are no more than newness generation that consolidates respective fashions. But newness in fashion shall not be related to bizarre effects from unusual incorporations only. Some of them, as we may
say, resulting from incorporations somehow considered artificial. Newness might be committed, for instance, to a certain way of clothes use. Meaning this, there are terms and classifications for a series of events. Expressions such as “casual dress and corporate success” also as “personal style”, “causal look”, or “casual wear”, are no more than the incorporating and reincorporating of newness. Being modern, in fashion, has nothing to do to the term “modern”: being actual.
(6) “Originality” While Base This attribute is the condition in which fashion is consecrated to being the condition of the designer's creation. While in industrial production, being or not resulting from similar creations, the impact occurs from other attributes in the designer's creation - that is responsibility of the stylist him/herself - that is resulting from what is new and concomitantly original.
When checking on clothes invariability that prevailed up to the 50 an evidence of high fashion was noticed as being the only way of market producing impact by the unusual and newness. Although corresponding market, reduced and close, has provided social curiosity throughout creation (while clothes being of original patterns), the originality demands, when it takes place, is much more bonded to dissemination support of the work made than to the support of its creation so to speak. Originality, in this meaning, turns to be fashion foundation. That happens because it is an attribute that determines the process from a conceiver. An artist? Mostly yes.
(7) “Transitoriness” While Permanence On the other hand, “permanence” of creation in fashion, for being style, is highly volatile. And what remains from the process is a near “record” of its transitory importance in the market of type and styles in use.
When we read that till World War II the types of men's clothes were “practically stuck” in time, we wish to figure out, for sure, what “stationary” aspect of fashion determines a condition of nonexistent. Even in nonexistent fashion, the creation condition of original pieces does not exist and, consequently, nothing of transitory. “La distanza tra “Vogue” e le altre riviste si nota già nei titoli: sicuramente dietro a tutti c'è il modello pubblicitario, ma, mentre in “Vogue” la soluzione è spesso quella del titolo breve e pulito. (...) Per l'uomo le stesse accumulazioni puntano molto di più alla descrizione psicologica, e avremo piuttosto il tipo “aut”, dal tono molto decisivo: “classico, elegante, impeccabile, oppure estroverso, desimpegnato, “new style”. They are, of course, the originality conditioning that guarantee, in fashion, any creation as being real creation. But they are also, above all this, the conditioning of transitoriness that certifies new things variation in the same universe. It means that the ideas of “classic” and also of “new style” can be, at the same time, original, stylish and, excessively, transitory.
(8) “Triviality” While Consequence One aspect that constrains when reading, studying and discussing fashion. It is related to the “triviality” attribute. Even so, being the inconvenience circumstance stood out by the uncomfortable facing this subject in a “least noble” way, we shall consider that fashion is, especially for being style, transitory. And being transitory (there is no way of being off this attribute), is trivial. As trivial as the concern to “etiquette” on what clothes to wear in specific occasions, is the concern to “elegance when sleeping”. Of course elegance, in part, surely has to do with triviality. However, not all elegance is, necessarily, trivial. The clothes tonality, cloth type, garnishes details, hair cut, shoe shape, can be indicatives of intentional triviality - just like the “good taste”. Rarely, however, the triviality attribute that is imputed to the process of fashion has something to do with this. Insist on the use of specific ornaments, indispensable when conducting to a appearance personal option, can be trivial as long as the consumer does that to suit the other fashion followers. It happens that, if the first circumstance, involving an apparent personal habit (even
being fashion or not), triviality attribute is not noticed; but in the second yes. But it is exactly because of a habit that has nothing to do to fashion that there is no involvement with it, in the first one. And precisely because the next initiative has nothing to do with personal that it is trivial and, consequently, part of process of fashion. It means that it is, in short, from the lack of trivial habit commitment that it is configured to the respective attribute, consigning its practice in meaning of main concept.
(9) “Luxury” While Ornament Here, a problem can be seen. A problem of semantics nature. That is not only about luxury. Luxury itself can be completely dispensable in fashion, being it generated only by incorporation and use of materials extremely expensive (and for this reason inaccessible), or by the use of brands that, mostly because is
“not available in exorbitant prices.
Another main aspect of this attribute is the relation condition between fashion process and what breaks this out. Such breakout can be as originated by the creator of fashion (or conceiver), the stylist, as by those who embody top designer names assimilation. Therefore, in the engagement of the most important designer names that composes international fashion scenario today, the most expensive ones, or top designers who share this stand out condition to their correspondent Maisons. Who could possible say that only from its reading the attributes “luxury” does not stand out? A simple reading about them reflects what they really mean: fashion. Thus, “luxury” as long as elegance, or triviality are important name components such as Berardi, Blahnik, Blass, Cox, Farhi, Gianfranco Ferre, Ferretti, Bella Freud, Dolce & Gabana, Ghost, Guinness, Versace, Gertrude Stein, Betty Jackson, Janson, Joseph, Donna Karan, Keogh, La Croix, Ralph Laurent, Julien Macdonald, MacQueen, Isaac Mizrahi, Red or Dead, Rykiel, Jil Sander, Paul Smith, Valentino, Georgina Etzdorf, Wakeley, Westwood, Calvin Klein. with Isn't it this attribute, “luxury” that will, no doubt, represent fashion main
ornament!? In fact, that is why the creator, being or not responsible for what is expected so the clothes become fashion, ends up characterizing clothes themselves. Market motive, consumption fidelity circumstance, process unchangeability intangibility need, permanence guarantee while process, this attribute apparently dispensable, is extremely essential.
(10) “Beauté” While Flavouring If the previous attribute there is a problem of semantics, willfully to establish the term real meaning, this new attribute will not be any different. The term “beauty” does not mean much on establishing the meaning of the attribute that ultimately shall be seen as a condiment of the process. “Beauté” synthesize in a high range of meanings related to creation that, turned into fashion, becomes the clothes you wear. Or, best, the clothes used by famous characters
mostly young and pretty who draw the whole world attention. And they do that by being what they are and, likewise, for wearing what they wear. When it is said that: “the pleasure for women in looking at their multifarious images is recognition that their feminine identity has always been elusive and somewhere else; men are finally recognizing that their own dream of a self-empowered subjectivity is better conceived of as merely an ideological ruse”, it shall be added that, being male or female, no one wishes to look ugly. This is the reason why all styles shall be fed of this attribute. Even though the clothes are hopelessly ugly. Because fashion is fashion, and the patterns that establish what is pretty or ugly regarding the clothes wear. Not in its intrinsic parameter. It means: clothes to be considered pretty must be engaged to fashion.
(11) “Style” While Idealization If no one wishes to look ugly, the way that leads to becoming pretty then turns out to be elegance. Elegance that, as seen, is an essential attribute to fashion process. Thus, being inserted into fashion for any use that follows the attributes exposed, people acquire new conditions that distinguish them among the ones that are stylish and the other that are not. Idealize elegance patterns that are world generalized, no matter the physiologic, ethnic, cultural, or religious conditions, become a-hardto-solve equation for fashion creators. Therefore, not often consumers themselves will, generally, adequate themselves to creation formulated far beyond social and cultural reality inserted. More and more people engage this conflictive world, in which pattern standards find no average parameters among consumers. Idealize elegance for others, when these are millions of people, from different social classes and originating from many different cultures, may become to be impossible. Yet, professionals from the world of fashion have developed complex systems to generating models that begin to making use of colors as a matter of change.
Blends radical variations so they can be used indiscriminately is the starting grid for consumers that no matter their personal physiologic conditions, idealize pattern and nominate themselves to being inserted in the fashion process.
(12) “Use” While Dysfunction State that this attribute is a result of marketing conditions can nearly be considered a heresy. However, fashion has no utilitarian function at all. Its role is to break out consumption. In any kind of taste, in any body built standard, regardless consumers' gender or age, considering or not its process attribute, fashion exists today for breaking out and preserving clothes consumers. Not taking this into consideration would not considered heresy. But stupidity.
“One of the most considerable and representative areas of popular culture postmodern theory are style. Although it remains unorganized in all institutional meanings, the study of style as a cultural practice has produced some significant analysis of postmodernism effects in the more intimate general and disseminated dimension of sociocultural lifestyle. Système de la mode, by Rolan Barthes, was perhaps the first inspiration attempt to comprehend fashion functioning as language, with its own rules and structures; the subsequent works tried to base themselves in Bathes' findings on explaining fashion specific patterns in the postmodern contemporaneous world”. That is what it has been a repetition of authors who haven't yet understood that fashion is a process, like that, inserted in the market, with the objective of diffuse concepts and, collaterally, sell the corresponding merchandise. In this sense subsist a use dysfunction, because any clothes piece is an integrand part of a fashion pattern, for this reason only, is extremely dispensable. Like fashion disposes of the same transitoriness and dispensability attributes. That is, it does need not to be fashion so that clothes are wore; however, all consumers idealize this apparent “utility”.
(13) “Consumption idealization” While Effect Of The Process The consumption idealized from any merchandise is always an artifice, in which the “consumer is dragged to the fateful objective of purchasing goods he/she will not use”. For some persuasive reason, consumers will definitely fall into the traps “spread by publicity catching the obligation of dispensability”. Terms such as “seduction”, “manipulation”, “disorientation”, present in most works originated from authors who will never work in operational marketing activities, represent a logic prejudice; not against market, but against the human being who, eventually, is also consumer. And that's because everyone knows what he/she wants. Depending on their availability, he/she buys whatever he/she feels like. Think opposite to this, is also a stupid way of facing world and a fake will against people. It is said, however, that the “consumption idealization” present in the fashion process, is part of a situation in which the respective consumption maintains this activity cycle. Also, does not matter much the nature of the model consumed because what it really matter is that act of purchasing is somehow frequent so it justifies the process continuity.
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