Critical Fashion Practice

Critical Fashion Practice : From Westwood to Van Beirendonck

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There is a new form of design practice within the contemporary fashion industry which is active in complex forms of social commentary and critique. While fashion in the modernist era has shown signs of criticism and subversion, these were either in the form of subcultures or perversions, such as punk or BDSM styling. Today, however, these genres have been absorbed into the fashion industry itself, meaning that "critical fashion" is now far from limited to the subcultures from which it came. This book explores this new space for criticism within the popular fashion sphere to demonstrate how designers are disrupting conventions, challenging beliefs and stirring change from within the system itself.

Critical Fashion Practice considers a range of contemporary designers across the globe, from the US to Japan, whose conceptual designs embody this critical language, including case studies such as Rei Kawakubo's deconstructive silhouettes for Comme des Garcons and Walter Van Beirendonck's sadomasochistic menswear collections, amongst other key players such as Miuccia Prada, Vivienne Westwood and Viktor & Rolf. Arguing that the rise of critical fashion coincides with a noticeable decline in the criticality of art, Geczy and Karaminas go beyond slotting fashion into previously established art theories. Conceiving a new cultural role for fashion that affords insight into identity, class, race, sexuality and gender, this book shows how fashion can not only reflect and comment on, but can also be a part of social change.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 232 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 12.7mm | 443g
  • Bloomsbury Academic
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 27 colour and 18 bw illus
  • 1474265529
  • 9781474265522
  • 873,379

Table of contents

Introduction: From Subculture to High Culture

1. Vivienne Westwood's Unruly Resistance
2. Rei Kawakubo's Deconstructive Silhouette
3. Gareth Pugh's Corporeal Uncommensurabilities
4. Miuccia Prada's Industrial Materialism
5. Aitor Throup's Anatomical Narratives
6. Viktor and Rolf's Conceptual Immaterialities
7. Rad Hourani's Queer Agnostics
8. Rick Owens' Gender Performativities
9. Walter Van Beirendock's Hybrid Science Fictions

Conclusion: How Fashion Conquered Art

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Review quote

Geczy and Karaminas have again written an essential book that pries open the critical context of contemporary fashion. Using clear language, they dive deeply into cultural and fashion theory to soundly shore up their research and interpretation on the modernity of male and female fashion and its relationship to the body, gender, art and design. Importantly, this book links history and theory with an understanding and acknowledgement of the craft and industry of making clothes. Read it and think. -- Alexandra Palmer, Senior Curator, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada Thinking through the work of key contemporary practitioners from Vivienne Westwood, Miuccia Prada and Rick Owens, this book looks beyond the image to present new frames of reference to both the fashion enthusiast and informed scholar. Richly textured and resourced, this incisive and penetrating read presents fashion as a philosophy, provocation and cultural touchstone. Critical Fashion Practice is a cerebral tour de force and a must for anyone who has ever suspected there is more to fashion than meets the eye. -- Nilgin Yusuf, Creative Director, School of Media & Communication, London College of Fashion, UK Focusing on a handful of contemporary fashion designers whose collections in many ways challenge and critique societal norms, Critical Fashion Practice will prove indispensable for anyone teaching and/or studying fashion - or for anyone seriously interested in fashion, for that matter. Just as in their previous book on art and fashion, Geczy and Karaminas again have managed to write about fashion in a most refreshing and engaging manner, here offering nine theoretically astute yet surprisingly accessible case studies that will appeal to a large and varied audience. -- Louise Wallenberg, Centre for Fashion Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden This superbly crafted, diligently researched and provocatively analysed study is essential reading for all students of fashion and those of the many other disciplines that reveal our culture: art, social sciences, anthropology, media studies, gender studies and philosophy. I award its authors a standing ovation as they soundly reinforce fashion's place in the sphere of serious academic study. * Fashion, Style and Popular Culture * Geczy's and Karaminas' approach to contemporary fashion is highly refreshing. Their book sheds a new light on the work of some of the most iconic and intriguing designers of the past decade, and adds to the emancipation of fashion as a serious field of academic study. It is a must have for anyone working within the field of fashion theory and fashion writing. -- Kaat Debo, Director MoMu-Fashion Museum, Antwerp Scholarly yet accessible, Critical Fashion Practice offers a close critical and contextual reading of key, late 20th-century designers' oeuvres; its innovative theoretical analysis and in-depth case studies make this an original addition to the field. -- Emmanuelle Dirix, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and Antwerp Fashion Academy, Belgium
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About Adam Geczy

Adam Geczy is an artist and writer who is Senior Lecturer at Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney, Australia

Vicki Karaminas is Professor of Fashion and Deputy Director of Doctoral Research at the College of Creative Arts, Massey University, New Zealand
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