Tag Archives: culture

Culture of Fashion #6: Individual Identity

Assignment: Take a picture of yourself that expresses who you are. Post the photo on your blog and explain in theoretical terms (± 250 words) why the way you dress is an expression of your individual identity.

The impossible is has been asked? Describing your identity through fashion is extremely difficult, especially if you’re still searching like I am. I love fashion and by now I kind of now what I like to wear and what not, although this also changes with time. I choose a picture that was taken in spring this year. I think it shows my identity and my search for some sort of balance in my style and all through life.

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I’m wearing a sequin dress from Topshop, a pink blazer with a black bag from H&M and shoes from Sacha. I will try to describe my individual identity through theoretical concepts from Fashion Theory: A Reader.

Dick Hebdige describes style in his article Style through the rise of subcultures in relation to the normal reigning conventions about how to dress. He uses the theories of Roland Barthes and ‘The Rhetoric of the Image’. Hebdige states that his theory can be used to point out the difference between subcultural and ‘normal’ styles. Subcultures use different signs and objects that have a particular meaning and use or display them in a different context and with that, give the objects a different and unusual meaning. It’s also interesting how Hebdige describes how a subculture like punk is characterized by chaos but is actually a very structured force, it cohered as a meaningful whole. This paradox that returns through fashion history is significant in describing my style.

First of all, I don’t know if there are strong subcultures like punk or hippie’s were. I think fashion uses elements of all these different styles and has created something overruling. Elements from hip hop culture, punk, hippie bohemian and other strong forces of subculture have emerged into one big style. It’s difficult as a new generation to set yourself apart in the big world, and I think I’m searching for that balance through the way I dress. I choose this outfit because the dress is my proud and joy, I’ve worn it a lot! I think it’s fun and joyful and that is what I want to bring to everyday life. I want to set myself apart from the crowd by bringing color into the world. It’s all very black, grey, brown and blue’ish and that is just so boring! But there isn’t really a subculture I can relate to in order to force my ideology about fashion in a greater manner. I’m always somewhere in between: not part of a subculture, but to different to fit in in normal styles. Is it maybe hipster? I have no idea, I’m so lost about the whole hipster definition 😄 What do you think? How would you describe my style by looking at the picture?

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Role of Nature in Pop Music

Look and think about it! Will write an article about it soon!

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New Age Feminism

Lady Gaga; an inspiration for many. I’ve been following her for years now, and not only because her songs are like an addiction! The woman actually has some interesting cultural opinions and is very innovative in presenting a new age in culture to a lot of young people. Recently she was interviewed by a magazine called Stylist UK about her new fragrance The Fame. Little did they now they actually asked a very important question. And Gaga answered even more brilliantly.

Style UK: Can make-up and feminism ever truly be friends?

‘You know what’s so funny is, I actually think there’s a new feminism that is completely different and I don’t think either is better or worse. Any kind of feminist has valid views for herself about what it means to be a feminist, but, as a new-age feminist, I would say I quite like the transference of strength I feel by submitting to a man – being under him. I actually wrote a song about it on my album, it’s called G.U.Y. and it stands for Girl Under You. So wearing make-up, smelling delicious and having suckable, kissable, edible things between your limbs is something I find strengthening because I know that when I pick the right guy, I can let him have it. Some women feel oppressed by make-up and clothing, and here’s to them, they have every right to feel that way as well.’

Gaga refers to something as a ‘’new age feminism’’, different apparently then the feminism we had before. The word feminism is a very loaded word with a lot of negative connotations. We tend to think of women without bras who are very angry towards men, all the time. But the Lady is right; there is another kind of feminism emerging from the depths of the new generation. Maybe the women reading this can relate, I for one definitely see the point Gaga is making. It’s not a very clear point and I’m sure it can be very confusing. So I will try to explain it.

The new age feminism is actually a mixture of the pretty housewives from the ‘40s and ‘50’s of the 20th century and the feminism of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Feminists fought for equal rights for women in all kinds of aspects of life. Equal salaries, women represented in the history of the arts and free expression of sexuality. The new generation of women, born after 1985 (or something like that), developed a different position towards men. We feel strong and feminine with heels and sexy dresses: not just for the men but for us. We combine the femininity of the pre feminism era with the strong and independent position from the world of the feminists.

We don’t need a man, we choose to be with a man and let him have it. It’s debatable whether this is really the case, but I really think we choose to look cute and sexy because we want to feel good for us. But we also want to look good for men because it feels empowering to sweep a man of his feet. Because let’s face it: we love the strength and masculinity of the opposite sex. Women are weird creatures (I totally agree, I think I’m weird too) but I think we have a nice balance going on here. The more interesting part of this development is: where does this leave the boys? More on that later, I have to go paint my toenails now!

 

– Gracia Visscher

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Obama: the re-elected meta (modern)

Today was a big day for the United States of America; actually also for the rest of world! Obama or Romney for president? For a while the two men were going head to head but finally Obama took the lead and America chose its president. Four more years! As excited as I am about the re-election of Barackie, my cultural glasses are never off. During the acceptance speech I realized that the president is (my) human example for the metamodern state of being. Hopeful, but realistic.

The first campaign for the election of Barack Obama in 2008 was inspiring. Obama was the symbol of hope, a light in a dark and cynical nation on the edge of depression. With big dreams and promises Obama grew as a favorite. The next four years, the White House was his home, and change was on the way.

Whether he kept is promises is debatable, this is not the matter I want to address in this article. The most interesting part of Obama’s stay in the White House is the development he made between the first and second election.

You could say that Obama now reflects the metamodern mind by being the combination and constant ‘’battle’’ between modernistic hope and postmodernistic deconstruction. A lot of specialists in politics spoke today about the more sober and realistic view the president reflected in his speech. They all declared this to be a direct effect of the difficult four years in the White House. This realistic and grounded view was mixed in the speech with the hopeful future Obama so believes in.

As I said in the previous article: I will explain my inspiration for my cultural observations soon. And without background information about metamodernism, this article can seem a little vague for the readers. The most important thing to remember about Obama and (in my opinion) the relation to metamodernism is the balance and two-faced structure between romantic hope and imagination versus a realistic and grounded worldview. The United States is, as Obama stated, one big family. A romantic idea that is needed for a country that is still in the spirit of change. We can’t just believe in the big story without the realistic and (often) negative situations people are in the back of our minds.

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source metamodernism: http://www.metamodernism.com

 

– Gracia Visscher

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Neoromantic tunes

The history of music is probably the most interesting part in the history of our culture. Generations have been listening to music to free their souls, to get a feeling of understanding from their idols. And a lot of idols have come and gone. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé: they all represent a movement in culture (especially in youth culture) and perhaps also different genres in music. As we move into the 21st century, a new movement has been spotted that refers to a tradition as old as America: the folk and blues music. What better example to explain this movement then the biggest hit at the moment: Mumford & Sons.

As my blog grows, I really should explain where my motivation and inspiration for these pop culture observations is coming from. I will describe it in a different post, but for now I will lead you to the following website: http://www.metamodernism.com. A total description of metamodernism and neoromanticism will follow, for now I’ll explain it briefly in relation to the Mumford & Sons hype.

Mumford & Sons is a band from London and are life and kicking since 2007. Their first album Sigh No More went multiple platinum in the US and the UK. And with a new album out (Babel) they are back on the road, back where they belong: live and communicating with the audience. This aspect of live performing fits so well with the boys that they recorded some songs on Babel live: ‘When you’re in a room with headphones and microphones and no one else, you play it quite differently to how you play it live’, so Mumford says.

Neoromanticism in 21st century music is a very interesting thing and a lot different then the big Rihanna hits we hear on the radio. But it is winning territory with the hugeness of Mumford & Sons in 2011 and 2012. One element of the neoromantic ‘’genre’’ in music is the search for authenticity in the music. A lot of artists are looking for this authenticity in the use of instruments like a banjo, mandolin and piano, played with a rhythmic style based in alternative rock and folk. A less mediated form of expression is also being used by Mumford & Sons.

Another interesting aspect in the Mumford & Sons story is the name. The band stated that the name was meant to invoke the sense of an ‘’antiquated family business name’’. The idea of a little family business seems very grounded and familiar versus the big city London where the band started. This two way feeling is the core of the metamodernism en neoromanticism: the feeling of a small community within the consciousness of a big world. This is exactly what music should do during a concert: unite the band and crowd as a small family within the big world, creating hope and imagination.

 

 

– Gracia Visscher

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Filippo Minelli

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Nature meets Culture, the neoromantic age

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Photography: Escape in a romantic world

The ‘’new’’ medium photography comes, like painting and film, in many forms. Advertisements, instagram pictures, newspaper pictures and fashion photos; they’re all made with a certain purpose. The main element of photography when it became popular in the beginning of the 20th century was to capture the truth, that moment in time in the world. But like other forms of art, photography has its trends and feelings too.

Like my title reveals, I would like to place photography as a medium in our time. I can do that with quite a lot of material, but I will give three examples of romantic photography. They all are very different and are used in a different way, but are all important nonetheless. First up: Instagram.

Instagram is ruling the (digital) world at the moment. Profile pictures, feet in the sand, a Starbucks coffee: everything is getting instagramed. Photos look like they were taken in the ‘70s or when there was no color yet. With all the digital technology: why do we want a picture that is less clear and crisp? One word: escapism. Instagram gives us the opportunity to give our world a look we will never see in the real world. It’s a form of making the world more beautiful, more interesting and more romantic. The filters from Instagram are literally filters for our daily life. The real question, I think, is: for whom do we use Instagram? Do we just want to look interesting on Facebook or is it really an escape and an attempt to make your world more beautiful?

Another aspect of the world of photography is of course fashion photography. Every month the shoots in Vogue and other magazines bedazzle us. A lot of pictures are about selling clothes, but I see another quality that really problematizes the line between art and ‘’normal’’ photography. An example is the photographer Tim Walker. Tim Walker makes a lot of independent work but he also works with fashion magazines like Vogue. And what he creates are worlds we all can escape in. It’s not just about the beautiful clothes but also about the story. It sucks us in and it makes the world more beautiful. It is a romantic escape from reality, but also a romantic value you can make your own in daily life.

The last example I want to give has to do with both examples above. In our digital era it’s very easy to buy a camera and make pictures of the world exactly as it is. In that way, the goal of photography hasn’t changed at all! A growing group has turned their back on the technology and is doing it the old school way: Lomography. This phenomenon has become very popular and plays a big role in creating memories in a romantic way. Cameras like the Diana or Fish Eye camera are made to make the world look more beautiful and interesting. I’m the proud owner of both and take them on every holiday and sometimes just in daily life. The roll of film and the lens make a picture that is individual and personal. They romanticize the moment in the photo. With this romantic filter we can always look back at the pictures with a sentimental feeling and think: what a beautiful world I’ve seen.

The real question in this article is: why do we need all these help? Is the world really that ugly on it’s own? Some people might think it is, but the world has never been more beautiful. The problem is the eye of humanity. We can’t see clearly enough trough all the filters of worries, work and wrong. We have become incapable of seeing the world in all its glory. The trick is to stand still, to look out of your window instead of looking at your screen and just see, look, feel the world. Escapism is not necessary; looking through a romantic lens is something we all can learn again.

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– Gracia Visscher

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Caravaggio & Dolce: Drama in Fashion

Since the birth of the modern time people have had the urge to dress themselves with a personal style. Clothes became a form of liberation for mankind, especially for women who could dress without a tight corset or layers of fabric. Fashion has had many forms during the 20th century, but also many functions and trends. Now, as we’re moving further into the 21st century, fashion mirrors the feeling of nostalgia, romance and volume I find necessary to share: Drama.

For me, fashion always has been a way to escape the (sometimes) boring daily life and not only live in a dreamy and colourful world, but also brightening the world around me. Often I get funny looks about my daring combinations but it’s a way to bring colour to the often-grey urban life we function in. Fashion seems to agree with me on this subject. Vogue, aka heaven, produces the most romantic, glorious and dreamy photos and with that offer us ‘common’ people an escape. Although we love and need this escape to the perfect dressed world, I feel the time has come to bring this romantic world to live!

And it seems that the fashion world has picked up this need of romance. I’ve been following the multiple fashion weeks for some time now, with awws and oohws all over. Although I’m all about looking forward (already thinking about my spring look for 2013), I really like the aim of the fashion designers for the fall/winter feel, which is: Drama with a big letter D. I will give you an example and explain why fashion is such a big mirror to our society and how this relates to the past.

A trend I want to explain is the return to the baroque era. The famous baroque pattern with lots of curls has been spotted on dresses like you see below from Dolce and Gabbana. Also in more accessible stores like H&M is this trend represented. A lot of jewellery reflects the mind-set of drama. You want to and have to be noticed with this trend, it’s all about emotion, drama and beauty. The baroque era was not different from this fall jewellery. Buildings, paintings and even music were dripping in effects, curls and patterns. To explain the resemblance of our fashion today and the baroque era I want to compare the dress from Dolce & Gabbana with the famous painting from baroque painter Caravaggio, The Calling of St. Matthew.

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This may look like a weird comparison but it actually makes a lot of sense! When we take a good look at the dress we see a deep black covered with gold discs, pearls and little gold stones. The important aspect of this dress is the way the gold looks on the black fabric. Caravaggio did the same thing with his paintings in a brilliant way. The dramatic contrast between dark and light make his paintings theatrical and mysterious. Like The Calling of St. Matthew is the Dolce & Gabbana dress dramatic, mysterious and at the same time just enough revealing. This is exactly what our society needs from fashion and other art forms: Drama and mystery. In our hard times where we get overloaded with bills, budget cuts and many worries we need a world to escape to. Fashion has made it possible for us to dress like royalty and just be that prince or princess this winter like we all loved dreaming about in the early years. So people: get dressed and bring that drama!

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– Gracia Visscher

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Tattooing: The Romantic Era

Art history is a beautiful and big subject to talk about. All the different ways of expression, artists and developments the arts go trough; it’s a reflection on the daily life of a particular time. New media like film and photography made their way up the art historical story and are now ‘known members of the club’. One visual and probably most ‘human’ form of art has yet to be acknowledged by the art world. Me first: Tattoos!

Tattoos are, as now many people think, a very personal form of art. It doesn’t hang in a museum, it’s a part of someone’s life. As the owner of 6 tattoos I can say that the pictures on my body are a part of my life and me. It is a microform of art: reflection of the daily life of one person. Like sculptures and paintings, tattoos have been around for while. It goes back about 5000 years, mostly developing in old tribes and Japan. The popularity of tattooing in the west and modern world, I think, with the Sailor Jerry designs. The big pirate ships, naked pin up models in black and grey with accents of red: it doesn’t get more classic then that. From this point the tattooing world has experienced some trends with the ultimate down low: the ‘90s tribal.

Tattoo artists of the new age are not just hiding behind a tattoo machine or a big portfolio. They consider their work ‘art’ and want to show it off like painters have been doing for years. It’s less about the customer’s wish (The Tasmanian devil is kind of old fashion maybe?) and more about the artwork and freedom of the artist. Having the honor to get that work on your body. It’s a very romantic and subjective idea to trust an artist with your body and be a canvas. But another romantic trend in the tattooing world is the concept of the tattoo, which comes with the artist element of tattoo artists. A lot of tattoos from the past are mostly from a very standard design, a stencil that has been printed out many times. Examples are the butterfly, all the Sailor Jerry designs (although these are classic), the tribal form and many others. Maybe they have been done in a slightly different way; the subject is often the same.

An example for this new generation of tattoo artists is Peter Aurisch. Working in Berlin, the Internet fills up with the most amazing unique and fascinating tattoos. One thing that he does, and some other tattoo artists like Xoïl, is using color in a very watercolory way. It’s not about keeping the color between the lines but making it slightly less ‘’perfect’’. This gives the tattoo something romantic in a way it is almost drawn on you, like it’s always been a part of you. Another technique that’s very interesting, but also done by other artists, is the abstract lining in the tattoos. It doesn’t look clean and crisp, but it looks that much more interesting. And: all the lines matter.

The most romantic element of the new generation of tattooing is, I think, the special band between artist and customer. Because of the uniqueness of the tattoo and the work that has put in to it, the artist and canvas create a special band. It is a piece of his art in your body and there is nothing like it on the planet. We all should be a canvas for these great new artists and maybe make an art history for ourselves.

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Romantic comedies: The big change

Romantic comedies have been a source of entertainment since the eighties, bringing us nothing but happy endings and fairytale journeys of two individuals meeting each other in a big, crazy world. But the world didn’t stop moving and changing since the great ’80s. Now, moving further into the 21st century, I (and maybe you too) am seeing a big difference in romantic comedies made today and the classics we know from the past. A shift in the focus and core of the romantic comedy: the couple.

We all know the romcom feeling: a sigh, a smile and a warm fuzzy feeling when you leave the cinema. Movies like Pretty Woman, Notting Hill, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle are made to give you this exact reaction and the best part is: it totally works! These movies, classic as they might be, have a standard narrative that’s useable in any romantic comedy: boy meets girl / chemistry / something goes wrong, the world practically ends / they make up / live happily ever after. The happy ending is the most important and almost a criteria to a good romantic comedy. Without this element, the romantic comedy basically becomes a romantic drama. We just don’t get the warm and fuzzy feeling! If the perfect Julia Roberts can’t live happily ever after in Notting Hill, how on earth or WE going to get it?! Not to worry, happy endings still exist in the 21st century.

Today we can look back at the classics from the ’80s and ’90s with almost a feeling of sentiment. The innocence of the movie stars with the big smiles, the perfect guy; let’s be honest with ourselves: We know better by now. The most impossible relationships are build in these movies, and yet they seem to work out great. But how do they develop once the couple is settled down, get’s married and have children? This part of the romance is often invisible in the early romcoms. This has changed with the new generation of films in the year 2012 like The Five Year Engagement, The Vow, Friends with Kids and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. All these new romcoms focus on the couple, the family, the institute of marriage and basically keeping yourself and your relationship sane trough these life changes. For example: in The Five Year Engagement we follow a couple from the beginning of the film to the end. They get engaged and try to make a life together, as hard as that can be. Trouble and discussion come along, but in the end they make it to the altar and ultimately live happily ever after.

I’m hoping you start to see the big change in romantic comedies over the last 20, 30 years. We began in the ’80s with two individuals coming together and starting a life. We always assumed that this life was going to be a long, happy and vital one. The new generation of lovers apparently need a different kind of happy ending,  a more hard and realistic one. We need to see if there still exist something like being happy with the one forever. A very basic and straight forward explanation can be given for this observation. Our generation (I’m talking about the people who are now young adults like me) had to grow up with the big concepts of not only marriage, but also divorce. Divorce has become a topic in a kid’s life on a daily basis. You were lucky if the divorce curse didn’t came knocking on your door. Romantic comedies like Notting Hill and Sleepless in Seattle  were just not good enough, a little unbelievable. After all, two individuals starting a life together was easy. The happy ever after part turned out to be the hardest part. The warm and fuzzy feeling disappeared as we know knew the dream couples in movies may not be together and happy forever.

With the introduction of romantic comedies such as The Vow and The Five Year Engagement we know have an example of how a ”real” happy ever after looks like. Trouble in marriage, family and relationships are common, but with hard work and dedication to your husband/wife and family you can live happily ever after. This is the example we all can relate to in times of divorce and dreams. I want to look at a movie and think: yes, marriage will not be easy. But I am willing to work as hard as I have to, to be with the person I love and to live a happy and long life. With this movies, where the happy ending is still a big part of the formula, we all dare to dream again. To dream about that marriage of fifty years, to dream about a big family and to dream about the happy ending. With a realistic and sometimes maybe cynical logic in the back of our heads telling it may not work out. Realistic dreaming: the trend of the decade.Image

 

 

– Gracia Visscher

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