A take on fashion

September 29, 2020

Dr Marco Pecorari is Program Director at the MA in Fashion Studies at The New School Parsons Paris. He is the author of Fashion Remains. Rethinking Fashion Ephemera in the Archive (Bloomsbury, 2020) and the co-editor of the forthcoming volume Fashion, Performance and Performativity (I.B. Tauris 2021). He is also co-founder of the Paris-based Festival Printing Fashion.

How does the current crisis impact the relationship to clothing and fashion? 
Beside the devastating economic impact that this crisis will have in the fashion industry, I’d like to think in positive terms and suggest that the crisis has also created awareness of the emotional role of fashion and its capacity to empower ourself. The restrictions we all suffered, I believe, made us aware of the impact of clothing and getting dress as self-fashioning, a practice of care and even a therapeutical practice. While we forced to remain at home, our daily practice of getting dress – or not getting dress – evidenced our special bodily, identarian relation with garments and showed how fashion is a referential imaginary of aesthetics for us all.

How does/can fashion play its individual expression and liberation role in our changing societies?
Clothing have historically been adopted as symbols of liberation because of their capacity to materially and visually embody ideals. This role will continue to push the role of fashion both in the production and consumption practices; and especially in the definition of the self. I like to think that fashion has the capacity to penetrate the everyday and this is happening today more than ever. Thanks to image diffusion via social media, fashion is becoming a forum for self-definition and resistance. Brands and systems are today challenged on everyday basis on issues of inclusivity and equity of race, gender and class. I think these changes have really emerged from a social need and necessity to see fashion as a more than an exclusive and lucrative field but rather a space of empowerment for the self and cultural encounter.  

Can you mention a piece of clothing, a collection, or an image that would embody fashion special role in 2020 for you?
Beside thinking of the mask as a symbolic of object of sanitization of society, I honestly can’t think about one specific image or piece of clothing. So, I rather mention a collection of snapshots of Zoom classes with my fashion students. This collection shows the traumatic shift we lived but also reminded me of the importance of the collective. It was incredible to see what students decided to wear, their strength and belief in the power of fashion. These images do not only showcase the importance of fashion to go through these tough periods but students’ belief in thinking and rethinking the fashion systems in the time of the pandemic. These snapshots will remain for me a symbol of trauma but also resilience and hope. 

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