Unfolding Gender

Fashion Cultures Parsons

SIKI IM PAVILLION, ARNHEM MODE BIENALE 2011

SIKI IM PAVILLION, ARNHEM MODE BIENALE 2011[1]

During Wednesday’s Fashion Cultures lecture, fashion designer Siki Im (I would rather call him an artist who just happens to use fashion as a medium combined with architecture and music) introduced his pavilion project for the Arnhem Fashion Biennale 2011 at the beginning of the presentation. Im explained to us that he wanted to create a physical space, which allowed him to evoke intangible spaces. The spaces and emotions have the same sensibility and quality that Im hopes his fashion designs conjure and inspire. This concept certainly resonates in his spring/summer 2015 collection Human/Machine, which was inspired by his love of robots. As stated by Jean Baudrillard in The System of Objects, “they [the robots] become things of which I am [Siki Im is] the meaning, they [the robots] become my [his] property and my [his] passion.”[2]

Further, Im…

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Who is a Fashion Victim?

Fashion Cultures Parsons

Dr. Alison Matthews David took us on a fabulous journey through the toxic history of dress, in both myth and reality, during her lecture Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present. If Dr. Moon revealed the truth of contemporary production of fast fashion in her presentation few weeks ago, Dr. David traced the issues of manufacturing back to the 18th century by claiming, “Clothing has been the cause of death, disease and madness throughout history, by accident and design.”[1] That struck me as particularly intriguing, because instead of being paralyzed by guilt and feeling hopeless, I felt a sort of relief from socioeconomic pressures. I was able to step out of the box and review heavy global topics from a new perspective, as Dr. David interconnected medical science, art history, material culture, curatorial practice and other disciplines in her research.

“Who is a fashion victim?” Dr…

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He, She, Me

Fashion Cultures Parsons

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Telfar Clemens Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear[1]

During Wednesday’s Fashion Cultures Lecture, Professor Christina Moon interviewed a fashion designer, Telfar Clemens, who has a multicultural background (born in New York and raised in Liberia). Clements introduced a new term, “simplexity,” as his design philosophy and emphasized the fact that his collection is made for both men and women. That struck me as particularly intriguing this week. Though he pointed out that traditional media often responds to social phenomenons slower than the Internet (e.g., Instagram), interestingly, Vogue contributor Katherine Bernard complemented his latest 2015 Spring collection by saying, “Clemens plays with gendered silhouettes and color palettes…in a considered way—he was, after all, first in the wave of designers to find the sweet spot between a man and a woman’s wardrobe.”[2]

Moreover, Clements argued that the Internet tends to normalize social categories and as a result new norms would be created. I…

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Fashion Cultures Parsons

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Design studio at a garment business in L.A.’s Jobber Market (Photo: Lauren Lancaster)[1]

In the presentation, Professor Christina Moon introduces us to the social relationships and cultural conflicts between the design and manufacturing of fast fashion in Asia and the United States, especially focusing on the memory, migration, and labor. That stuck me as particularly intriguing this week. Moon also reveals the truth, in The Secret World of Fast Fashion, that “young Koreans are the driving force behind fast fashion—a phenomenon whose rise is less a story about corporate innovation than one about an immigrant subculture coming of age.”[2] In my opinion, the arguments made both in the presentation and in the article are not simply based on a single theory and are not always directly made. This is mainly because Moon takes an open position and does not try to fit everything into one answer or category…

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Style Is A Universal Language

Fashion Cultures Parsons

In the presentation, editor and publisher Jeremy Lewis described fashion as a business (not art). That stuck me as particularly intriguing this week. It resonates with Elizabeth Hawes’ statement in Fashion Is Spinach that “fashion is a parasite on style” and “now we have the advertising agency and the manufacturer, the department store and the fashion writer all here to tell us that the past, present, and future of clothing depends on fashion, ceaselessly changing.”[1] To me, fashion is temporary and opposite to style, which is relatively permanent and gives us the fundamental feeling of a certain period in life. If, as Lewis says, fashion is a language, which we learn when we grow up, I believe style is a universal language that human beings all share the same letters, vocabulary, and pronunciation. We do not need to study a language (or fashion) to understand different cultures. Art sometimes…

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Under the Dome

Fashion Cultures Parsons

Professor Timo Rissanen introduced himself by telling us that he is committed to empowering students to make a difference in any field when they graduate from Parsons. This statement resonates with the question I raised in my last post: How do you define success? Certainly, Rissanen seconds the notion that success can come in various forms. He made me believe it does not matter if it is a single step or a small action; we all share responsibility, and together we can make a difference within society and maybe create a utopia.

Thus, today, here, instead of feeling helpless and frustrated, I attempted to become an activist like Rissanen who emphasizes fashion as activism. I decided to share a new Chinese documentary titled “Under the Dome,” produced by renowned investigative journalist Chai Jing, who used her own money – more than 1 million RMB ($159,000) – to fund the film.

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Faking It: Originals, Copies, and Counterfeits

Fashion Cultures Parsons

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Mary Ping Spring/Summer 2015 Collection[1]

In the presentation, fashion designer Mary Ping introduced both of the signature collections shown under her name along with her more experimental line titled Slow and Steady Wins the Race. To a vast extent, her hybrid identity and focus on the fundamental characteristics of clothing design within the global fashion system resonate with the current exhibition, Faking It: Originals, Copies, and Counterfeits at Fashion Institute of Technology. It reminded me that authenticity and copyright protection against knock offs are two of the most debated topics in fashion today.

I came up with questions about gray areas in authenticity when I visited the exhibition a few weeks ago. What is the intention when young, contemporary designers reinterpret signs from the original? How do they differentiate themselves and avoid establishing a new symbolic capital as well as a cultural capital within their design? Because their…

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