QUESTION: Fashion historian and theorist Ulrich Lehmann wrote that “fashion only exists in representation”. Keeping this statement in mind, analyse one of the two given fashion images, using theories from 3-5 readings in the required and/or recommended reading lists to support your analysis of the meanings in your chosen image. In your essay, you should bring in at least one other image to help to explain your understanding of the main image.
Nowadays, fashion is not about the tangible quality of garments as fashion images are more accessible to the consumer than the actual garment itself. Images reach a wide group of people through billboards, television, newspapers, magazines, websites, malls, cinemas, and so on. We understand ads because we have been habituated over the years to understand the overall theme at one look. On looking at a fashion image, we know what it is trying to sell and we just ignore it if it does not tempt us. However, a lot of planning goes into the making of one advertisement, or ad. This can be better understood by studying advertisements by Sisley, a fashion brand of Benetton. The essay proves how every aspect of an advertisement, connects with another and plays a significant role in conveying messages to the spectators.
We are attracted to some advertisements because either they sell a product, which tempts us, or they have a unique design that appeals to our senses of sight or sound. There are others, which we understand the meaning of, but we ignore them as we come across so many of them. Art critic John Berger, who explains the role of advertising and publicity in his book, Ways of Seeing, wrote that there is a high number of visual images, which confronts us daily in city lives. Advertising has the highest concentration of visuals that we come across (1972, p.129). If we observe the dress in a visual image, we get to know the meaning behind it. Fashion editors Mary Roach and Joanne Eicher who explained meanings of dress in the book, Dress & Identity, wrote that dress is not only the garment itself worn by the individual, but includes every body modification from head to toe. Dress includes shoes, bags, accessories, adornments, tattoos, piercings, make up, hairstyle and even perfume (1995, p.114). Every object worn and in a particular color will convey a message to the viewer.
We dress according to the social event that we are attending. It would be inappropriate to wear shorts and fit flops to a festival or a traditional costume on a working day. Fashion historian Joanne Entwistle, who analyzed the relationship of dress with society in The fashioned body: fashion, dress, and modern social theory, wrote that “we dress to be accepted in a social environment and inappropriate dressing gives a feeling of being criticized (2000, p.35). The meanings of dress are instilled in our minds so much that we are subconsciously making these decisions everyday in our lives.
Dress is not superficial but has deeper meaning. On...