In his consideration of the language of the fashion magazine--the structural analysis of descriptions of women's clothing by writers about fashion--Barthes gives. written by Roland Barthes before and immediately after publication of his influential Système de la mode (The Fashion System) in While the pieces in this. THE CONTEMPORARY FASHION SYSTEM BIANCA TERRACCIANO Why “ contemporary” When Roland Barthes wrote The Fashion System, he sought to.
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those writings on clothes and fashion by roland Barthes which have yet to be translated on the key writings on clothing that predate The Fashion System, in. Barthes, Roland - The Fashion System - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online. n his consideration of the language of the fashion. n. Transformation 1; From the Rhetorical to the. Terminological. HI. Transformation 2; From the Terminological to the Vestimentary Code. IV. The Levels of.
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The historian and the sociologist are not charged with simply studying tastes, fashions or comfort; they must list, coordinate and explain the rules of matching and usage, of what is constrained or prohibited, tolerated or allowed.
They must establish not the images or the traits of social mores, but the links and the values; they must accept this as the precondition for any attempt to establish the relation between dress and history, because it is precisely the normative connections that are, in the final instance, the vehicle of meaning.
Dress is essentially part of the axiological order. Doubtless what explains the difficulties our authors have in treating dress as a system is that it is not easy to follow the evolution of a structure through time, the continuous succession of balances whose elements 8 The Language of Fashion change in unequal measure.
This difficulty has been encountered at least, and in part resolved, by linguistics. Since Saussure, we know that language, like dress, is both a system and a history, an individual act and a collective institution.
Language and dress are, at any moment in history, complete structures, constituted organically by a functional network of norms and forms; and the transformation or displacement of any one element can modify the whole, producing a new structure: so, inevitably, we are talking about a collection of balances in movement, of institutions in flux. Without wanting to get into the argument over structuralism here, it is impossible to deny the central problem.
This is not to say that the problem can be solved identically, in both linguistics and dress history. But at least we can expect contemporary linguistics to provide the study of dress with outlines, materials and terms for reflection that have been developed over the last fifty years or so. Therefore we must quickly examine the methodological effects of Saussurian models on studies of dress. Langue is the social institution, independent of the individual; it is a normative reserve from which the individual draws their parole, a virtual system that is actualized only in and through parole.
Parole is the individual act, an actualized manifestation of the function of langage, langage being a generic term for both langue and parole. And then to distinguish this from a second, individual reality, the very act of getting dressed, in which the individual actualizes on their body the general inscription of dress, and which, corresponding to Saussures parole, we will call dressing.
Dress and dressing form then a generic whole, for which we propose to retain the word clothing this is langage for Saussure.
History and Sociology of Clothing 9 We must obviously be careful about extending this analogy without due care and attention. Only the functional opposition of the two levels can have any methodological value. This was spotted in relation to dress itself by Trubetskoy, who established a parallel between the tasks of phonetics and those of vestimentary description.
Dressing then remains an empirical fact, capable of being analysed with a phenomenological approach: the degree of scruffiness or dirtiness of a worn garment, for example, is part of dressing, it has no sociological value, except if scruffiness and dirtiness function as intentional signs in a theatre costume for example. Conversely, a less obvious element of appearance, such as the differential mark in a garment for married and unmarried women in any society, will be part of dress and has a strong social value.
Dressing means the personal mode with which the wearer adopts albeit badly the dress that is proposed to them by their social group. It can have a morphological, psychological or circumstantial meaning, but it is not sociological.
This is part of dressing when it corresponds exactly to the anatomy of the wearer; but part of dress when its dimension is prescribed by the group as part of a fashion. It is very obvious that there is a constant movement between dressing and dress, a dialectical exchange that is defined in relation to langue and parole as a veritable praxis.
This passage can be seen in the broadening of a dressing object with the express condition that this broadening can be defined as a phenomenon of adoption , or even in a technological initiative taken by a clothes manufacturer or syndicated 10 The Language of Fashion producer. For example, the wearing of a coat over the shoulders, arms dangling, becomes part of dress as soon as: 1 a community makes it into a distinctive mark imposed on its members for example, Brothers of the Ecoles chrtiennes ; 2 the manufacturer provides the coats with internal straps for the arms with which to support the coat without rolling the sleeves up English system.
It must be noted that a dressing object that is at first constituted by the degrading of a dress object can subsequently transform itself once more into a secondary dress object: this occurs as soon as this degrading actually functions as a collective sign, as a value. For example, the outfit can gesture towards the using of all of the buttons on the shirt; and then a dressing object of some sort leaves the top two buttons undone: this omission becomes dress again as soon as it is constituted as a norm by a particular group such as in dandyism.
Fashion is always part of dress; but its origins can represent either of our two categories.
Fashion can be part of a dress object that has been artificially elaborated by specialists at any one moment for example, haute couture ; at another moment, it can be constructed by the propagation of a simple act of dressing that is then reproduced at the collective level and for a number of reasons. But what we can perhaps now foresee is that the link between dressing and dress is a semantic one: the meaning of a garment increases as we move from dressing to dress.
Dressing is a weak form of meaning, it expresses more than it notifies; dress on the contrary is a strong form of meaning, it constitutes an intellectual, notifying relation between a wearer and their group. Diachrony and synchrony We have already pointed out that it was necessary to distinguish in clothes between the synchronic or systematic level and the diachronic or processive level. Once again as with language, the major problem here is that of putting together, in a truly dialectical snapshot, the link between system and process.
George H. Darwin, nephew of Charles Darwin, got an inkling of this problem when he established a parallel between biological and vestimentary development, with the garment History and Sociology of Clothing 11 corresponding to an organism and the system a whole type of garments to a species.
Linguistics, for its part, is in the process of working to clarify the links between synchrony and diachrony, without yet succeeding; in other words, the science of dress, which has as yet to be constituted, has so far not carefully examined the data.
But by looking to the example of linguistics we are able to suggest two methodological caveatshistorical and sociologicalto guide us towards a definitive explanation.
We must first agree to make the notion of system more flexible, that is to think of structures in terms of tendencies rather than perhaps in terms of a rigid equilibrium. Clothes live in tight symbiosis with their historical context, much more so than language; violent historical episodes wars, exoduses, revolutions can rapidly smash a system; but also, in contrast to language, the recasting of the system is much quicker.
However, it would not be desirable, at this point, to reintroduce, into the flux of vestimentary forms, any external determinisms before having identified all of the internal factors that, within the system itself, play at least a part in its evolution. It goes without saying that dresswhich cannot be reduced to its protective or ornamental functionis a privileged semiological field: one could say that it is the signifying function of dress which makes it a total social object.
Drawing on the observations on the sign made by Ignace Meyerson,26 let us distinguish, for dress, between indexical objects and signifying or notifying ones: Indices The index operates outside of any intention of directed behaviour. The link that many histories have established between dress and the spirit of an age would be part of the indexical, if such a link could be proven to have any scientific power which is, as yet, far from being the case.
We find more reliable indexical objects in studies by a 12 The Language of Fashion certain number of Anglo-Saxon writers, where dress is treated as the index of a certain interiority.
This research has taken two directions. Firstly, it has been properly psychological in the United States , in the sense of a psychology of choices and motivations, in which attempts have been made to identify the hierarchy of motives in vestimentary choices, with the aid of questionnaires and even tests. The second direction in this research on the psychology of dress takes its inspiration from psychoanalysis, in the widest sense of the term.
It is easy for everyone to see what a psychoanalytical reading could find in a cultural object whose erotic implications are fairly obvious and whose formal characteristics lend themselves easily to symbolic interpretations; these attempts at explaining cannot be assessed without making an overall judgement on psychoanalysis itself, which is not our job here.
The garments worn by the models are influenced by their bodily individuality, which affects the institutional value of fashion, dissolving the main objective of the communicative contract. In this regard, Barthes distinguishes between the real garment, that is the structural institutional form of the garment corresponding to a formulation in line with Saussurean language, and the used garment, the dress that is actualized, individualized, and worn, which is associated to speech.
The pose can be exaggerated and not canonical, but it also derives from the nature of the dress. This is a Judeo-Christian perspective that sees the dress as divine punishment penalizing original sin, but it may also apply in a society where dressing oneself concerns strategies of appearance, the negotiation of identity, and the expression of social differences between individuals. Certainly, the fashion system has contributed to making local cultures poorer by taking the place of ethnic fashion systems, but it has also meant that, due to creolization of elements of other cultures, different semiospheres meet and coexist in different collections.
In addition, the cover-girl coincides with the fashionable body, as an institution, and in her case the structure corresponds to the event. Besides, the fashionable body is inextricably bound to the body transformed by garments. Structure and event do not have to be opposed because only their union creates meaning. Certainly, not all bodies will be fashionable or transformed, but, in one way or another, fashion exercises an unlimited power in signification.
The obsession with a fashionable body is justified by the hegemony of visual texts dominated by the cover-girl and by the vast numbers of articles and tutorials, off and online, and TV shows like Ma come ti vesti?!. These have developed the relationship between the fashionable body and transformed body in the firmest terms of agreement with the enunciatee.
The body manifests its intentions and reflects the Zeitgeist through the garment. The body sets up a level of expression Violi , and therefore it renders as necessary a series of gestures, movements, postures, facial expressions, and glances, and considers them as elements of the level of expression by assigning them signified meanings.
The body is both the operator and formulator of this level of expression and acts in intersubjective space. The body spreads its signified meanings and increases their comprehension, setting up a climate of interaction. The body is not only a logical operator of transformation, nor a discursive figure, but its role in the process of the production of meaning is set in discursive practices and cultures that define it according to the complex configurations of meaning that the body produces in discourse.
The poses and postures of the models are, therefore, figurative canons The Contemporary Fashion System semanticizing the dresses worn; they facilitate a passage from praxis to gestural communication that establishes symbolic or semi-symbolic relationships between expression and the content of gestural communication to produce meaning. Gestural expressiveness, as social gesture, is endowed with a capacity to modalize bodies and dresses. Each pose assumes a different rhetorical function according to the context of the image, the typology of the dress, and the historical moment.
Every movement of the body or expression of the face expresses the contract set up between the enunciator and enunciatee and of their passionate trajectory. Poses can express messages towards an addressee or internal emotional states that render meaningful fashion and its contexts of use.
In order to express this, the body must ultimately become the thought or intention that it signifies to us. Poses and gestures are a simulacrum of face to face communication, of a hic et nunc, and of the context and situation of use: the bodies of models show what dresses signify and transmits what one feels in relation to them.
Gestural expressiveness represented in fashion reportage has a fundamentally rhetorical role in the persuasive communication of texts; it ensures a passionate engagement between addresser and addressee. Gestures and poses are correlated to the typology of the dress, its functionality, and its aesthetic improvement, contributing to an enhancement of the morphological relationship between dress and conveying the meaning of this to the enunciatee.
There are collections of female poses that models and photographers must know how to master to give value to a dress and magnify its qualities. Poses are useful in emphasizing the physical characteristics of the models and minimizing their defects. Fashion reportage is not a simple accompaniment to a visual text, Bianca Terracciano or an essential recording of the garments being worn, but a declaration of a determined state of things, of its axiologies and, above all, it is enunciation.
The traits of the photo-shoot relate to the dresses, accessories, and backgrounds, both from a plastic and a figurative point of view. Navigation menu Personal tools Create account Log in. Namespaces Page Discussion. Views Read Edit History.
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