MINI POSTS No.1: On fashion ‘metissage’


I have been silent for too long, time taken up by teaching, researching and simply living. I am back ‘on popular demand’ with brief but intense little posts. Out on a regular basis from now on.

One image – an object, a painting, a phrase, something which in a nutshell contains the spirit of, this is the idea.

The beautiful and exotic young ladies in this photograph grabbed my attention. They represent an ideal – western – of elegance made of fine silk and organza, fit for a soiree in Paris during the Belle époque. Yet they are thousands of kilometres away across land and sea. It doesn’t matter where they come from. They are the product of colonial culture or rather a colonized culture. Their own land subjected to modes and taste from another world. The young ladies do their best to fit in, their western style clothes are fine but not quite right, for example they are not wearing the required waist-clinching corset. Their local tailor has not seen the real thing and is little acquainted with contemporary French fashion magazines to really get the look right.

…Or maybe local tailors had evolved a new form of fashion ‘metissage’, the art of mixing styles and cultures. The final effect is alluring, familiar, yet  edgy and suspect. Makes me think of recent work by the intensely talented  Wales Bonner, where whole collections are reflections on race, gender, culture and the possibilities of ‘metissage’.


Wales Bonner AW 2016-17


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