Esther Leslie on Fashion

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 AnOther Magazine interviews Esther Leslie, Professor of Political Aesthetics, Birkbeck College:

“Fashion, as soon as it is brought to the world, it is already dying, picked up with everybody, and then losing its energy. Therefore, it always tends towards death, whereas style maintains itself. It is the inimitable, which stays apart from things.”

“I’m fascinated with the notion of the material. Assuming that there is a relationship between fashion and material, that leads us to the notion of materialism, and historical materialism. It fascinates me that Marx talks so much about fashion in Capital, and in other works. There is the condemnation of fashion as this meaningless, murderous caprice, particularly through the way it is so immersed in the factory system. The idea that the word “fabric” comes from the German for “factory”, Fabrik, shows how important textile production was in the definition of capitalism. There is that strong material element that interests Marx so much, and also Benjamin, who identifies fashion with reification, and deadliness. At the same time, let us think of the metaphorical resonances of fashion: the Benjaminian notion that, through fashion, something of a utopia might be possible. These notions help us think of how fashion can help disrupt the linear conception of history, and not to exist in the now, as we are required to be.”

(Photos: ‘Young Blood’ by Fumi Nagasaka via AnOther Magazine)

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