As the centre of fashion is no longer dictated by one city, but is, in fact, a global panorama configured from the personalities of satellites like Milan, London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, primarily, and to a lesser extent Sao Paulo, Antwerp, Berlin and Madrid, it seems logical that the venue from which fashionable objects, silhouettes, and trends are dispersed most be portable and accessible.
Dimant, Elyssa, ‘From ‘’Paradise’’ to Cyberspace: The Revival of the Bourgeois Marketplace,’ Potvin, John, Editor, 2009, The Places and Spaces of Fashion, 1800-2007, London and New York, NY: Routledge. p: 233
Distinctions between fashion systems obscure their interrelationships and interdependence. Not only have fashion systems become internationalised, so too have discourses surrounding fashion. Thus consumer fashion simultaneously draws on discourses of exoticism, the primitive, orientalism and authenticity. While these terms reiterate distinctions between western and other fashion systems, in fact their deployment crosses such boundaries although it is geared towards specific conditions of social interchange and environments. In this process, exotic impulses merely allude to sites of difference, insecurity and transgression in each cultural milieu.
Craik, Jennifer, 1993, The Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion, London and New York, NY: Routledge. pp 41-43
One system goes; another takes its place. To assume that the fashion system born at the Court of Empress Eugénie would continue without change seems absurd, and yet this is the premise on which the myth was resurrected after World War II. The European class system is gone, the economic model is gone, and the social structure that allows the investing of authority in a few voices is also gone – but only from the Western Hemisphere. Out of Russia, China, and India, new versions of bourgeois society are emerging, basing their systems and fashions on the mythical media-model of Western society.
Aspelund, Karl, 2009, Fashioning Society: A Hundred Years of Haute Couture by Six Designers, New York, NY: Fairchild Books. p: 267
The quotations above all consider the changing structures and systems of the fashion industry and the culture out of which these derive. The conference Fashioning the City: Exploring Fashion Cultures, Structures, and Systems to be held in London in September 2012 seeks to consider, or perhaps reconsider, the changing and developing dynamics of the fashion industry in the 21st Century. The staging of this event comes at a highly significant time in the development of the fashion industry as the structures and systems of the industry as we know and recognise them today, based around a network of five ‘’Fashion Capitals’’, namely Paris, London, Milan, New York, and Tokyo, is being increasingly challenged by innovations in technology, processes of manufacturing, and a reconfiguration of what we have come to think of as ‘’Fashion Cities.’’ As Lise Skov and Marie Reigels Melchoir (2011) assert, the fashion industry today is becoming increasingly decentred and ‘’poly-centric.’’ For example, symptoms of this include images from catwalk shows which can now be broadcast live and disseminated globally, off-shore manufacturing puts into doubt the authenticity and true value of fashion products, is it still possible to trust labels such as ‘’Made in Italy’’ or ‘’Made in Britain’’?, while cities such as Amsterdam, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Dakar, Seoul or Sydney, amongst others, are increasingly asserting themselves as ‘’alternatives’’ to the ‘’Big Five’’ Fashion Capitals, with their own distinct fashion cultures. This conference is a part of a much broader and ongoing research project, of which my own PhD research into what ‘’makes’’ a Fashion City is perhaps just the beginning. Investigating the cultures, structures, and systems of the fashion industry the aim of this conference and exhibition is be both a catalyst to (re)considering these cultures, structures and systems and to act as a platform to create an open, interdisciplinary forum in which such matters can be debated. The legacy of this event, to be documented through this website which will continue as an archival resource, together with accompanying publication(s), aims to inspire and to stimulate further such events and critical analysis across an inter-connected and inter-dependent, globalised, ‘’poly-centric’’ fashion industry.
Nathaniel Dafydd Beard, Conference Convenor
South Kensington, London, January 2012
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