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Society and Fashion in the Age of Postmodernism - Essay Example

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The essay explores society and fashion in the postmodernism era. Postmodernism is a complicated term and covers areas as diverse as architecture, fashion and technology, one should be able to list a few of its working principles without much difficulty. …
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Society and Fashion in the Age of Postmodernism
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Download file to see previous pages The essay "Society and Fashion in the Age of Postmodernism" concerns the postmodernism society. Language lost its ‘meaning’, culture lost its ‘centre’ and history found itself struggling for being, let alone authenticity. Because of the work of thinkers like Derrida, Foucault and Lyotard ‘mental structures’ began to wobble; foundational assumptions came under a cloud. What is man’s role in a society? Is not he the subject of several forces including language and discourse? Can he lay claim to any ‘Truth’ when even the hyponyms of it were being questioned? Perhaps the answer to this whirlpool of uncertainty lay in his summoning up his infinite potential of creativity for a plausible answer. The one that bagged consensus was ‘celebration’. A celebration of the joke called life. Of the absurdity called existence. Everything, including architecture and fashion, responded to this interpretation. (Postmodernism may say that there are not any facts but only interpretations, but the human mind considers this as a fact). The greatest manifestation of this new-found enterprise was in the salad that combined ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. Music strove to mix 14th century church chant with the latest in euphony. Buildings displayed gothic arches with a bunch of steel tubes to add to its effect. And in vogue were straitjackets with a naughty hint of one’s backside. Joanne Finkelstein recollects anthropologist Jonathan Friedman’s observation that in African Congo during the 70s and 80s....
The currency of the young subculture was to wear the latest in European fashion circles. Although the social and economic differences between Congo and Paris were too vast to be mentioned, the young sapeurs chose to bridge dream and reality through clothes. So much so that wearing haute couture was like realizing a dream. And this imbalance between dream and its realization, between valuing a particular object and having the capacity to possess and maintain it was a fundamental dynamic of fashion, according to Finkelstein1.
However, in the 'subcultures' of Britain which included teds, punks, skinheads and hippies the dynamic of fashion was something totally different. Dick Hebdige points out that the main aim of the subcultures was to cobble out of the available forms, a new set of genres that will free them form the manacles of tradition2. However, Hebdige admits that the commercial culture itself had the wherewithal to counter the hegemonic culture by producing for the subcultures. By marrying the high with the low, the radical with the conservative, it produced a range of clothes for the punk that is still looked upon as an act of positive aggression.
These two divergent theses coalesce to the synthesis that in fashion there cannot be a common protocol. At a time when 'consilience' is the order of the day and terms like 'society', 'identity' and 'nation' are themselves undergoing significant semantic changes, 'fashion' which is the signature of these terms in flux cannot remain steady and static. In postmodern zeitgeist is not only that fashion influences society but also that society influences fashion. Fashion becomes an ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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