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The camera follows artist Silvia Calderoni inside an apartment as she practices yoga dressed in a lace outfit, an absurdly aesthetic experience that includes a monologue in which Paul B. Preciado analyzes the effects of binarism on a television screen. Are we looking at a transgressive film (paid for by Gucci and directed by Gus van Sant) or is this the longest commercial in history?
Although the revolutionary power of fashion is unquestionable, with personalities like Franca Sozzani investing part of her career in it, the way in which this industry co-ops activist discourses is full of contradictions. The normalization of normal bodies supposes, for example, the mere correction of violence perpetuated by its own standards. It is equally absurd to use the word “sustainable” in business formats that have gone from producing two collections to launching up to ten a year (clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014).
This month we have offers four very different visions that examine the trend towards activism in the fashion world. Jesús Nebreda analyzes what happens when Balenciaga’s most radical anti-outfit infiltrates the Met gala. Elena González examines the depth with which feminism has marked the last stage of Dior. The designer Raquel Buj shares her work and forms of production in an interview in which she talks about bio-fabrication, technology and crafts. And, finally, Sorcha Brennan develops an approach to the performativity of social aesthetics of luxury.
Despite the fact that the historical role of fashion in the liberation of women and in the visibility of the LGTBQ + community has been courageous at times, the ways of dealing with some issues accentuate the superficiality of the market. The capital of a brand grows along with the ethical values it projects, such that its rebranding becomes a mere tool that, in most cases, neither attacks nor criticizes the system, but rather perfects and legitimizes it.
And then there’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose genius allows her to use the codes of any platform to amplify her discourse and reach audiences that might not otherwise know of her political engagement. Although we do not know exactly what Mark Fisher would have thought of his outfit at the Met, certain memes that emerged from Tax the Rich perfectly define the way in which this market has appropriated activist discourse. These memes embody more creativity than the entire collection Jeff Koons made for Louis Vuitton, which represents, by the way, a system that exploits people throughout the world and which uses art merely to give a more sophisticated sheen to products for a very exclusive audience.
(Cover photo: Paul B. Preciado in a still from Something that Never Ended, Gus Van Sant for Gucci, 2020.)
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)