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Surrealism in Fashion Elsa Schiaparelli and Yang Du - Essay Example

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In this essay, I will argue that fashion, and its essential interest in fragmentary, hybrid and shifting ideological productions is perhaps one of the most critical vehicles for historiography and art of mass proportions. It is on the site of the body that fashion finds its canvas…
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Surrealism in Fashion Elsa Schiaparelli and Yang Du
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Surrealism in Fashion Elsa Schiaparelli and Yang Du

Download file to see previous pages... The essay "Surrealism in Fashion Elsa Schiaparelli and Yang Du" analyzes fashion and surrealism. The paper looks at the shift from the manifestation of the ‘future’ in the historical past to near subsequent dream world of Surrealist response, whereby the future as depicted in Salvador Dalí’s distorted timepieces in Persistence of Memory, removes the logic of ‘progress’ prior Modernist movements toward an organic incorporation of technology, rather than mere orchestration of the future. Influenced by both conventions of Italian Futurism and French Surrealist aesthetics, Elsa Schiaparelli’s designs in speak to this moment of transition in Inter-War History. The second half of the essay is an examination of current theoretical debates on the cumulative, and necessarily disjunctive quality of cultural productions, or the so-called “crisis of representation.” Following Walter Benjamin’s notions of ‘Ur’ history, where things of the past leave their traces for further reproduction in the future, I will draw on the visual technologies of advertising imagery of Europe’s inter-war regime(s) to access fundamental links between capital, political ideology, technology and the bodies of fashionistas. Thierry Mugler’s work is a candid and cheeky derivative of this history; making fun of fascism whilst promoting its aesthetic as impenetrable, yet sexy. In both of these fashion designers’ work, inscription of power on ‘the body’ through haute fashion culture, serves as a historical trace.


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The emergence of Surrealism within fashion, for instance, was marked by the birth of parallel aesthetic cultures in commercial advertising, and especially the incorporation of art photography. The first coherent movement dedicated to aesthetic pastiche, Surrealism set the tone for later movements like Deconstruction.

The first half of the paper looks at the shift from the manifestation of the 'future' in the historical past to near subsequent dream world of Surrealist response, whereby the future as depicted in Salvador Dal's distorted timepieces in Persistence of Memory, removes the logic of 'progress' prior Modernist movements toward an organic incorporation of technology, rather than mere orchestration of the future. Influenced by both conventions of Italian Futurism and French Surrealist aesthetics, Elsa Schiaparelli's designs in speak to this moment of transition in Inter-War History.

The second half of the essay is an examination of current theoretical debates on the cumulative, and necessarily disjunctive quality of cultural productions, or the so-called "crisis of representation." Following Walter Benjamin's notions of 'Ur' history, where things of the past leave their traces for further reproduction in the future, I will draw on the visual technologies of advertising imagery of Europe's inter-war regime(s) to access fundamental links between capital, political ideology, technology and the bodies of fashionistas. Thierry Mugler's work is a candid and cheeky derivative of this history; making fun of fascism whilst promoting its aesthetic as impenetrable, yet sexy.

In both of these fashion designers' work, inscription of power on 'the body' through haute fashion culture, serves as a historical trace intended to transcribe the collection of next season's ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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