This book represents the voices of scholars, fashion designers, bloggers and artists, who speak to the pervasive nature of fashion in matters of politics, history, economics, sociology, religion, culture, art and identity. Dialogically open, the volume offers a broad apprehension of visual matter in the global contemporary context with fashion at its core, exploring its metamorphosing, media-oriented and ‘disordered’ modes of being in the early twenty-first century. The book’s contributors consider topics of universal import stemming from the realm of fashion, its dissemination and impact, from institutional, corporate, collective and individual perspectives, reflecting on the morphing, interchanging and revolutionary quality of the visual realm as the basis for continued research in fashion studies. Contributors are Shari Tamar Akal, Jess Berry, Naomi Braithwaite, Claire Eldred, Sarah Heaton, Hilde Heim, Demetra Kolakis, Sarah Mole, Lynn S. Neal, Laura Petican, Cecilia Winterhalter, Manrutt Wongkaew.
In the late 1960s, Arte Povera artist Marisa Merz asserted a process-based object as the foundation of a practice rooted in the politics of artistic labor. Her Scarpette, tiny shoes knitted with copper wire or nylon thread, were neither functional nor coldly conceptual. Her colleague Alighiero Boetti contemporaneously launched a geopolitical project that left aesthetic decisions up to his Afghan and Pakistani collaborators, women highly skilled in the craft of embroidery. Both Merz and Boetti had defaulted to a predetermined order, a repetitive action, a system, as a way of marking their engagement with the transhistorical and universal processes of everyday life. Their works evoke the mani sapienti of fashion and design ateliers – the painstaking handiwork hierarchically positioned somewhere beneath the maestro’s vision – and align the 1960s Italian avant-garde with concurrent advances in craft and design. What is to distinguish Merz’s knitting and Boetti’s outsourced embroidery from Ottavio Missoni’s zigzagging knitting machines? Largely unbeknownst to contemporary fashion consumers, Missoni’s iconic knitwear was born of found machinery, capable of generating one motif that by default, became its hallmark. The repetitive, systematic processes of hand-stitching, sewing, and embroidery associated with the fashion industry became the mechanisms of radical aesthetic engagement. In the post-World War ii era, Italian artists and artisans alike had ‘opted out’ of a trickle-down dynamic in aesthetic experimentation. Conceding to a predetermined system – knitting, embroidery, machines – they defaulted to order and revered the mani sapienti processes of Italy’s fashion industry in an interdisciplinary, non-hierarchical socio-cultural practice.