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Body and Fashion Photography - Essay Example

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Summary
In this paper “Body and Fashion Photography” the author will discuss the ‘contradictions’ that surround the representation of the female body in a constantly changing form in fashion photography, especially the conventions in fashion photography…
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Body and Fashion Photography
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Body and Fashion Photography

Download file to see previous pages... Crucially, this body contains the possibility, inherent to fashion, of reinventing itself in a constantly changing form. A process of transubstantiation transforms the fleshy, organic substance of the body into the artificial, synthetic substance of the fashion garment. The separate ontological states of what is possibly "clothing" and what is possibly "body" no longer signify and in the new entity that emerges from this alchemical process, the boundary between self and non-self is dissolved. The female model then can be seen as the embodiment of fashion's imaginary. As the avatar of fashion, it is where artifice, change and imagination coalesce on the body of the model to create a new, previously only imaginable, form.
Central to my argument is the different relationship that exists between the model's body and fashion photography in the lived world and the body and clothing in fashion representation. In the lived world, this relationship has been characterized as one of co-dependency and equivalence, to the point where "dress cannot be understood without reference to the body and . . . the body has always and everywhere to be dressed" (Entwistle 2000: 324). But in fashion representation, Roland Barthes has suggested that a hier- archy exists, with fashion at the apex. Of particular relevance to this article is his explanation of how, in fashion representation, all that is natural is dissolved into the artifice of fashion.
This is a fundamentally important point as it enables the relationship between clothing and the body in the manipulated image to be viewed as an exaggeration of something that is already present in the conventional fashion image. In the lived world, this relationship has been characterized as one of co-dependency and equivalence, to the point where "dress cannot be understood without reference to the body and . . . the body has always and everywhere to be dressed" (Entwistle 2000: 324). But in fashion representation, Roland Barthes has suggested that a hier- archy exists, with fashion at the apex. Of particular relevance to this article is his explanation of how, in fashion representation, all that is natural is dissolved into the artifice of fashion. This is a fundamentally important point as it enables the relationship between clothing and the body in the manipulated image to be viewed as an exaggeration of something that is already present in the conventional fashion image.
In The Fashion System, Barthes identified the distinction between the garment that is manufactured and/or worn and the garment that exists only as representation and meaning. Put simply, a picture of a dress is not a dress. What this means is that represented (or, in his terminology,"image") clothing does not have the other potential modalities contained in those garments that circulate in the lived world ("real" and "used" clothing). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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