A Fashion Exhibition



Fashion cannot be rationalized as a language either: the symbolic values placed on items of clothing are too arbitrary to be relied upon for clear consistent meaning like in language. When someone uses the six letter word “poison” I can be confident that they are referring to something that shouldn’t be consumed if one wants to remain healthy, but I cannot be nearly as confident in the significance of someone holding a briefcase: it may provide clues to their profession, lifestyle and tastes, but these are not clear messages, and if the woman holding the briefcase is donning a mow-hawk, tutu and Chanel tweed jacket, what is the meaning then? The context may provide us with more clues, and may alter our impressions, but doesn’t get us any closer to a reliable meaning. The briefcase alone may evoke an adjective like “seriousness” in the onlookers mind, but her outfit may suggest “anarchy”, but neither the briefcase or the complete ensemble say, “I have a serious agenda to tear down the government, and I love jazz” - symbolism in Fashion isn’t so specific. There is no established system in Fashion to organize its symbols like words in a sentence to create a message neither.

Written by Cynthia Howard co-curator of BEAF Fashion showcase.

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