This week as I continue to evolve, with the help of my readers, an identity driven conception of personal style I am struck by the importance of context. I am thinking about it’s use as an an analytic lens with which to expand the way I look at at a fashion show or a collection or even images on Instagram. Context, as was evidenced by many of the comments I received, was a force to be reckoned with as it exerted a power that led to the abandonment of one’s personal expression through fashion or it facilitated the expression and development of it.
Inspired by the two articles in the bibliography designed to stimulate critical thought, it becomes clearer to me that the context that an image or an outfit appears in is full of meaning, perhaps even more than the actual garment, as proposed by Barthes. It gave me a clue about a more nuanced way to think about “where” I am taking my pictures and what I can say beyond the outfit I am wearing that day. This is a situation where I have known this idea to be true but I am knowing it now at an even deeper level.
Creating much buzz this week. Virgil Abloh was appointed the first African-American creative director of a major Paris fashion house, Louis Vuitton. In his interview for Vestoj, he talks about how he designs his clothes in a way that forces you to think about the context of the object not just the object itself. He makes clothes that “reference what you may already have in your closet”, as his example. He is a man that understands that humans are always contradicting themselves and that is the nature of things. His clothes on a Paris runway are an example of a contradiction.
In a different but similar way Barthe references context when he makes the statement,
In short, the woman who wears fashion finds herself asked four questions: Who? What? Where? When? Her utopian garment answers at least one of those questions.
For our project of identity driven style those questions are at the heart of it. In the photo I post this week I am looking and feeling relaxed. I am in the new cafe that opened right down the block that is filled with light, good coffee and a bathroom (my closest Starbucks does not have one) and that is where I write and think these days. My jeans are worn and comfortable, my jacket fitted and sharp with soft florals slashed by red stripes. I am in my element here in this humble place, because it is where I create. Today this outfit is my “utopian garment” in my context answering at least a who, what and where question.
What is an example of one of your utopian garments? Which question does it answer?