ABSTRACT

In Britain and the USA, as in many other western capitalist countries at the beginning of the twenty-first century, fashion and clothing present curious and ambiguous profiles. From one side, the profile looks attractive and seductive. Newsagents’ shelves groan under the weight of style and fashion magazines, which offer glossy advice, to both men and women, young and old, on what to look like and how to look like it. The High Streets and malls of these countries are filled with more or less confident fashion and clothing franchises, staffed by more or less snooty assistants offering more or less exclusive gear to the more or less discerning consumer. Online versions of companies such as Lands’ End provide the chance to construct a virtual ‘you’, kitting yourself out with potential purchases (go to ‘My Model’ at www.landsend.co.uk and www.landsend.com). Television shows with tricky graphics, eclectic taste in music and enthusiastic presenters offer make-overs in provincial shopping malls and interviews with glamorous-looking fashion designers. Other television productions, often with 1920s’ or 1930s’ graphics and music to match, have offered frock design as serialised, if not always terribly high, drama. Between the shows, companies like Gap and Nike advertise their clothes with swinging choreography and pop groups. The world of fashion design made one of its periodic appearances in Hollywood film in 1995 when Prêt à Porter, a story of designers, models and consumers, was released. Daily newspapers, conservative and liberal alike, set aside whole pages and employ journalists to offer their opinions concerning the ideal size of female models or to present the latest in latex. And, inevitably, in their turn, some of these models, presenters and journalists become household names, fit to offer their endorsements of other household names in magazine and television advertisements.