Tag Archives: Fashion

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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Culture of Fashion #5: Fashion is Change

A Shifting Style in Fashion

The world is always changing. Big changes like global warming develop for years when small changes like putting on a black blazer instead of a pink one take one minute. Fashion can be seen as a representation of the change in our world, of a universal and cultural shift in how we look at the world and ourselves. Fashion changes because we as humans change, whether that is an individual or an entire society.

Elizabeth Wilson described the friction between individuality and mass culture in fashion in her book Adorned in Dreams from different points of view. One statement is particularly interesting when discussing change in fashion: ‘’[…] we may view the fashionable dress of the western world as one means whereby an always fragmentary self is glued together into the semblance of a unified identity.’’[1] You can interpret this statement in different ways by using the notions of the individual as a part of the mass western world, but I think it will be more interesting to discuss how fashion for the masses contributes to an individual identity and what these fashion trends represent. The tension Wilson describes between the crowd and the individual is, I think, characteristic for fashion and life in general. We all want to fit in but also stand out in our qualities and personality. The way you want to portray your identity doesn’t just changes because different trends are featured in stores like H&M or Zara (but they, of course, have an influence) but also changes through the different stages in your life. You won’t dress the same in you teen years as you may do in your thirties. On an individual level there are different changes that involve fashion, but this always relates to a bigger structure in society. A documentary by the Dutch program Close Up relates to the notion of an individual style in relation to a bigger structure of feeling in society.

In the documentary a thirty-something woman talks about how her style in dress is influenced by society and her position within society. She interviews different women who share this style and discuss what exactly causes this style. They come to the conclusion that they want to be more anonymous in a world of digital profiles and social control. Their style is therefore very sober with black, white, blue and brown colors and simple silhouettes that cover the body. They don’t stand out in any way, but form a silent counterpoint against the digital and social control social media and governments use to influence our lives. It is thus a structure of feeling within a certain group in society that dress the same way for the same reasons. The change in emotion and perspective therefore influence the fashion we see on the streets.

I think we can describe a lot of changes in fashion this way, which I do all the time on my blog. It is a way of describing how the Zeitgeist is reflected in fashion. Wilson also says something about this in the article Explaining It Away where she actually states that too often though, the relation that of course exists between social change and styles of dress is drawn out in a superficial and cliché-ridden way.[3] I think this statement is true but too out of context and also kind of cliché. We have a categorizing nature and because we didn’t live in the twenties, we can’t describe all the little social changes that influenced the way people dress. Wilson uses the flapper dress as a cliché symbol for the twenties, but it is a cliché for a reason. It’s therefore important to acknowledge the fact that all history is categorized and generalized. Knowledge of history is important because it is another way of looking at the present, which is more important in my opinion. Why do we love the big, furry coats now? Why are heels no longer in fashion? These questions are important to answer because the social changes that are happening now can be described through fashion and, in the most perfect scenario, create a perspective of society and what it needs. Fashion is change because society changes. Society changes because the world changes and our perspective that we have on the world changes. Fashion is not only beautiful but represents the change people want in life.


[1] Elizabeth Wilson (2007) ‘Adorned in Dreams: Introduction’, in: Fashion Theory, A Reader. Malcolm Barnard (ed.) New York & London: Routledge. p 395

[2] Doc 25: It’s in the Sky. Domogala, Sarah. (2013) Nederland:  AVRO Close Up.

[3] Elizabeth Wilson (2007) ‘Explaining it Away’ in: Fashion Theory, A Reader. Malcolm Barnard (ed.) New York & London: Routledge. p 15l

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Culture of Fashion #4 Materiality of things

For this assignment we had to find some images that would show the theory of the materiality of things. We will be discussing how clothes are invested with meaning and how this value relates to people who wear them. What association comes up when you see someone in jeans, or in a fancy dress with ruffles? And can we see clothes as objects, can they have a life of their own when we insert them with meaning (connotations) when we purchase them?

1. Diesel advertisement 2013: In this picture we see a white woman, naked with tattooed arms under a Middle Eastern veil, made of denim. Tim Dant discusses the example of the blue jeans in Consuming or living with things? as a particular type of clothing that has a specific and diverse connotations. In the 50’s/60’s you maybe were rich enough to just buy jeans and wear them as leisure wear (clothing for free time) or wear them to work, which is the original wearer of denim. It was also the first item worn by both men and women in the same style and silhouette. Denim has a very liberating and western feel (just look at old Levi’s advertisement, full with wild cowboys!), which is used by stylist Nicola Formichetti in this advertisement as a statement for equal rights for women (although I don’t think this was ever a official statement). If it is his place to make this statement, that’s a whole other question. But by combining the connotations of the fabric and use of the veil this advertisement is very controversial and interesting in how we see women, identity and how this relates to clothing and even different sorts of fabric.

2. The second image is an older advertisement (date unknown) from Stein & Blaine Inc. It emphasizes the identity of the clothing itself, which is interesting. ”Lets Talk About the South and Clothes the South Will Talk About!” shows that Stein & Blaine wanted to represent the American Southern identity and claim they’ve achieved that by just making clothes. It doesn’t matter who wears the clothes, if you wear it you’re wearing the South. Dant obviously disagrees with this notion because he states that ”the idea that humans interact with objects (clothes), sometimes as if they are human and sometimes because they reflect back something of who we think we are.” The clothing is just South because we give it that meaning, it is not by definition a representation of the South.

3. I have chosen the third picture because I thought the clothes play a significant role in the picture, even more then the person wearing it. We see a woman with a hairy, furry coat over her shoulders. The texture, the material of the coat is very significant because I feel it has a world of connotations on its own. I think it relates to a feeling you can have and that the coat can protect you in a way. Furry coats are very in right now and it’s also fashionable to wear them around the shoulders with you arm under the coat. Dant speaks about the social function of clothes but I think it’s also a intrinsic function that clothes can represent your state of mind. Maybe the social function can be found in the way we all want to be teddybears and cuddle our way through life? I know I want to!

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Culture of Fashion #2 A History of Silhouettes

For the second assignment in the course Culture of Fashion I had to read several chapters of the book Fashion Theory| A Reader and after that, I had to choose two images of contemporary silhouettes. I choose two images from the webshop Zara because I think they represent trends in silhouettes for both men and women.

Agnes Brooks Young describes in ‘Fashion has its laws’ different cycles surfacing in the development of fashion since the 19th century. She divides them into three cycles by looking at three types of skirts that were fashionable during 178 years of fashion development. The bell-shaped skirt and the ‘backfullness’ skirt, two types of skirts, are mainly seen in the 19th century. When the 20th century makes it’s entrance, we see these types disappearing while the tubular skirt is still in fashion. This skirt, unlike the other two types, follows the natural lines of the figure. In the 1920’s we see this simplification even more with Chanel inaugurating the ”poor style” which includes the simple black dress. Gilles Lipovetsky calls this the democratization of fashion in ‘A Century of Fashion’, which means that fashion of the day became available for a big group in society.

In the female silhouette, chosen of the webshop Zara, we can see this simple silhouette in all its glory. The black dress has a zipper around the neck which goes into a collar. The top of the dress looks very sporty, like it is almost a vest. This is also a trend in the 1920’s, where the idea of lightness and energy of sports are transported to a new aesthetic ideal of femininity (Lipovetsky). The dress is long and falls over the knees and most of the leg. The fabric accentuates the body and follows the lines of the body. This is also an element of the tubular skirt. The dress doesn’t show lots of skin, which I think is really a trend in fashion right now, but also looks comfortable and movable. It shows a perfect simplicity that so much resembles the spirit of the 1920’s: feminine in a comfortable yet covering way.

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Young illustrates (small) changes in women’s fashion every season but she doesn’t discuss the male silhouette. From what I’ve seen in fashion history, male fashion has always been kind of the same. Especially the latest fashion trends for men relate to the beginning of the 20th century idea of male fashion. You could argue that the role of women changed drastically in the past hundred years, but the role of the male wearer has been very constant. This silhouette has one connotation for it’s wearer: the businessman. I think a case can be made that the use of the suit is a reintroducing trend for the man as a dominant figure (after years of female emancipation). Ann Rosalind Jones and Peter Stallybrass argue (‘Renaissance Clothing….: Introduction’) that ”clothing is a worn world: a world of social relations put upon the wearer’s body”. With this silhouette, which shows no skin and really portrays it’s wearer as a businessman, we could say that the fabric and silhouette symbolize a certain status within society, which resembles the idea of clothing and fashion during the Renaissance according to Jones and Stallybrass. The suit has a status of it’s own and empowers the wearer. In this case I think the silhouette is modern because it is really narrow around the body and shows almost a sober version of the suit in all black, including the shirt. This creates a new dimension within the suit and with that, a new role for the businessman.

Opdracht 1.2

I could talk about this for much longer because I really think both images represent huge changes in fashion and in society. Maybe in another article, but for the Dutch readers I can refer to the article I wrote about ‘The New Man’ in Allop Magazine.

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A Nature’s Perspective: Eco Fashion

Social responsibility and awareness for our environment is a growing trend. Not only through growing our own vegetables but also in fashion, which is a very good thing! We at ALLOP Magazine really believe in the future and most of all, a better future! All kinds of worlds, whether this will be the fashion world, economic or a farm world, will have to work together again to a new and greater goal: reconstructing the world. 

In the first issue of ALLOP we will feature an interview with a student Cultural Studies and the young designer Natalie de Koning. Both, one coming from science and one from art, have a vision and are involved in the eco fashion system. It will be an interesting discussion about fashion and the future of it. 

I also did a shoot with the designs from Natalie. Some will feature in the magazine!

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Photographer: Kimberley Bleeker/ Model: Jaleesa Koelen/ MUA: Naomi Roepers/ Styling: Gracia Visscher/ Designer: Natalie de Koning

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Onion Layers of Fashion: A Third Space

What is my style? This question has been holding me captive for the last couple of weeks. What is my style? I can honestly say that as a stylist and a young 20 something woman, I have no fucking clue what my style is. I like pink, sequins and, pink sequins I guess? Lena Dunham, the voice of my generation (at least for me), knows exactly how I’m feeling. It is the era of the Third Space. Nothing has a definite meaning but it shifts and changes with every minute.

Since modern time (and maybe even before that) people have had the urge to categorize everything: from different kinds of human species 200 years ago to ‘’my style’’ today. This way of understanding the world is almost impossible to escape; we are raised and imprinted with this method. Fashion has always been a way to express our own identity and in a way, a desperate attempt not to fit in. Especially now, with all the different subcultures coming together and all the fashion that comes with it melted along, it’s difficult to really understand and find a vision on fashion.

The same thing I’m experiencing in my styling. No specific style is appealing to me, nothing that’s cut out and clearly categorized is good enough. We live in a time where categories are the inside layers of an onion and we have to mix and find our way through the layers. Right now we are in a denim layer, as you can see in the newest edition of the Dutch Vogue (and many other magazines). These layers can be peeled of but also glued back on when we want to (got the soothing picture of gluing onion rings together right?). The meaning of style, and therefore my style, is never done and clean cut. Like my own life, it is a wandering process and never completed. When I’m done with one project, I already think it’s ridiculous so I run towards the next project. Never satisfied, always in a search for style.

Could it be the age thing? Are we at an age where we just don’t need to know yet? Are the twenties a third space for style and everything else in life? These are confusing times, and sometimes it can be quite intimidating not knowing what’s coming your way and how you feel about it (like Uggs). But maybe we can get used to not have an immediate definition on style, people and trends and just remain in the third space. Everything in the open and accessible, like the internet. You can add layers, avoid layers (like Uggs) and remove layers: construct your own meaning. I think that’s the perfect way to style your life. 

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Primary Fashion at the Oscars

No prints. Just clean colors with interesting fabrics. The ladies at the Oscars almost all chose for 1 color dresses: the one even more beautiful then the next. The primary colors are very important this year. For me it resembles a need for clarity, cleanness and a new start. No more prints and difficulty but straight forward, positive and hopeful! I will be posting an article about this trend soon, it will be published along with photos I styled in Envie Magazine. Back to the Oscars:  here are some of my favorites!

ImageAnne Hathaway in a beautiful soft pink Prada dress. Love the softness en romanticness of her look, with the awesome short hair!

ImageFan Binbing wowed me with this amazing eyepopping Marchesa. Absolutely love it ❤

ImageSolange Knowles at the Vanity Fair after party: breathtaking in Pucci

ImageSally Field is just amazing in Valentino! Way better then Jennifer Aniston if you ask me.

ImageNatalie Portman looks like an angel in this white dress (White people, I tell you! Color of the year!)

ImageKelly Osbourne seriously looks amazing!!!!! Love this

ImageI mean. Come on. She looks awesome!!

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Black Bird in a Silver Sky

I don’t have a lot of time at the moment, so the article writing feels a bit behind. However, I can finally put this pictures online because they have been published in a magazine! Photographer Melissa Houben, make-up artist Kelly van Etten and myself as the stylist shot this amazing girl named Britt. This was her first shoot ever, she is 11! We did a very angel like look and a darker version with dark eyes and purple chalk in her hair. I think the pictures came out amazing! Britt did so well and she loved it, that’s most important. Maybe we have a new Daphne Groeneveld on our hands!

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Photography: Melissa Houben http://www.melissahouben.nl                                                          Make-up Artist: Kelly van Etten http://www.kellyvanetten.nl                                                   Model: Britt van Maanen                                                                                                Styling: Gracia Visscher GV Styling and Writing

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Jean Paul Gaultier Heaven

For once I’m very happy to live in the Netherlands! The first exhibition that shows the work of thirty years Jean Paul Gaultier is in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, and of course, I was there!

I have written a review on the exhibition for the site 8weekly.nl, but it is in Dutch. I just wanted to share with you here that is was amazing. The exhibition shows a lot of personal stuff from the fashion designer like sketches, polaroid photos of him and Madonna and videos of the many many fashion shows. Multi media was smartly worked with by projecting moving faces on the mannequins. They looked at you, blinked with their eyes and even sung. It was awesome! If you are by any change near or in the Netherlands, this exhibition is certainly worth the trip! I might go again, want to experience the wonderland of Gaultier one more time! The exhibition can be visited until the 12th of May!

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Gracia Visscher

http://www.kunsthal.nl

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The Dream Coat

The Dream Coat

Thank you PomPom Vintage for this amazing coat, love it!

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