Ultrastile, Ultra Violence: A Chapter From The Book "Fashion, Desire And Anxiety"

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Ultrastile, Ultra Violence: A Chapter From The Book "Fashion, Desire And Anxiety"
Ultrastile, Ultra Violence: A Chapter From The Book "Fashion, Desire And Anxiety"

Video: Ultrastile, Ultra Violence: A Chapter From The Book "Fashion, Desire And Anxiety"

Video: The RAW Report 9.22.21 2022, November
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Today In the publishing house "New Literary Review" Rebecca Arnold's book Fashion, Desire and Anxiety. Image and Morality in the 20th Century”. On account of the fashion historian Arnold, courses at the famous Central Saint Martins and the Courtauld Institute of Arts in London, essays on Sofia Coppola and the new femininity, as well as the role of violence in fashion photography, a book on New York women's fashion of the 30s and 40s and the image "American wife" in the 50s. Arnold is equally interested in fashion and pop culture, body politics and feminist theory - which in the history (and history of fashion) of the XX and XXI centuries cannot be separated from each other. We are publishing a chapter on power, violence and consumption on the catwalk and the silver screen, where Quentin Tarantino, Brett Easton Ellis, Alexander McQueen and Emile Durkheim are links in the same chain.

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Ultra style, ultra cruelty

Clothing can act as a disguise: a person dressed in a certain way will appear to be more influential than they really are, belonging to a particular social or cultural group. Fashion and consumption can also soften the monotony of existence, the pressures of work, and the oppressive anonymity of life in the big city. In the last decades of the twentieth century, people tirelessly looked for satisfaction in shopping, they were constantly attracted by images that promised a new, better life and the opportunity to create new identities for themselves, but these images also carried cruelty. A person was reduced to a faceless consumer, assigned to one or another group, depending on the standard of living, and he was looking in vain for individuality in the market, which was scrupulously stratified and developed following predictable trends.

Bret Easton Ellis' novel American Psycho (1991) is very clear about the feelings of dissatisfaction that can develop as a result of the desire to conform to strict visual codes. The book was condemned by many, both for its detailed descriptions of the murders and for ridiculing the empty world of consumer obsession. The big city in this novel is a hell that the media and modern technologies have turned into a postmodern illusion of life, where the main thing in communication is the dress code and knowledge of electronic novelties. The book drew on a growing number of images of violence, including in high fashion, a trend that became a pivotal in the 1990s. Easton Ellis' novel subtly mocked glamorous violence in film and fashion, with realistic depictions of violence interrupted by manic notes about the clothes and accessories of the killer and his victims.

The author has created a dark parody of the 1980s 'sex and shopping' novels. The main occupations of his antihero Bateman are sex, shopping and violence, he constantly consumes and himself becomes an object of consumption. While some aspired to portray the 1990s as a decade of New Age, writers such as Douglas Copeland and Easton Ellis have explored urban life. Easton Ellis' novel details the insanity of a wealthy young man working on Wall Street and suffering from a mental disorder: he is trapped by conspicuous consumption, and his self-loathing and hatred of others lead him to increasingly monstrous acts of violence. He obsessively lists the smallest details of each character's clothing and gives them more importance than their characters, reducing the personality to designer labels: “Evelyn stands at the kitchen counter of light wood. She's wearing a creamy silk Krizia blouse, a tweed, rust-colored Krizia skirt and just like Courtney's silk satin d'Orsay shoes.Easton Ellis's characters have lost their own identities and are hiding behind the same clothes because of this, and this leads to constant confusion and, as a result, to anonymity and apathy, which allows Bateman to commit murder after murder.

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In the last decades of the twentieth century, people tirelessly sought satisfaction in shopping, they were constantly attracted by images that promised a new, better life

This nightmare story is a satire on the anxieties that dominated at the end of the twentieth century, on the fears of getting sick, becoming poor or defenseless, from which people tried to shield themselves with consumer dreams and the belief that a rich life would follow the right fashion, that appearance would overcome the emptiness of reality. Ultrastil replaces the heroes of the novel for the satisfaction of work or the joy of home life and is directly related to violence. While designer items - modern totems of power and status - are in place, the mask of respectability also holds. The combination of a controlled appearance - a toned body in the gym, a healthy tanned face and impeccable suits - and the everyday bestial violence of the novel is shocking, as is the lack of any repercussions for Bateman. Many angered that the antihero was not punished according to his merits, although the last phrase of the novel emphasizes the hopelessness of being imprisoned in this destructive whirlwind: "This is not an option."

Violence has become entertainment since the 1960s James Bond films, such as From Russia with Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964). The dexterous and even adventurous image of agent 007 cemented the connection of sophisticated fashion with the main male accessory, the pistol. Dynamic action and successful witticisms made Bond a hero that many wanted to emulate. His calm, well-groomed image in an impeccable suit somehow neutralized the very impact of cruelty; he removed Bond from the monstrous reality of murder, agent 007 remained always untainted, untouched by the horrors of the battles in which he took part.

The playful representation of violence has continued into action films, a new mainstream genre, and has influenced many areas of culture. Everyday theatrical brutality was reflected in fashion. The jeans brand Soviet in 1995 released an advertisement in which a young model licked the barrel of a gun; the obviously sexual overtones made the image even stronger. Increasingly media-savvy consumers quickly grew tired of fashion brands and trends, and violent imagery thrilled by adding a touch of danger to a particular brand or outfit. In 1996, at the Red or Dead runway, models walked the catwalk in tight sheer garments decorated with black lines, under which satin bras were visible. The models' bloody white gloves and knives in their hands contrasted with elegant accessories, black veils, elegant handbags and neat shoes. While designer Wayne Hemingway said the collection was his protest against France's nuclear tests in the Pacific, the shocking motives of violence in a fashion show, not social protest, attracted media attention, as always. To some, this development of fashion seemed to be a symptom of the decay that was sweeping across popular culture. Margaret Thatcher saw this as evidence of licentiousness: "The younger generation grew up in a pernicious atmosphere, where they were taught that everything is allowed in the name of freedom."

In the 1990s, in general, there was a lot of talk about the fact that children and adolescents are shown too much sex and violence, especially when they criticized computer games. In this light, the character Lara Croft from the PlayStation game Tomb Raider is symbolic - a girl with seductive forms and many weapons. Although her image has incorporated many of the features of earlier comic book heroines, such as Tank Girl (Tank Girl), it was he who became cult and began to be used in photo shoots representing the latest styles of haute couture.In the June 1997 issue of The Face magazine, Lara Croft is depicted in a tiny Gucci bikini, an Alexander McQueen suit, with Uzi accessories - she combined erotic fantasies of sex and power, in her image, ultra-style was combined with the threat of ultra-violence. There are many sites devoted to her, on which, however, her figure is mainly discussed. Overall, this image, illustrating the enduring fascination with violence in a stylish, eroticized way, had a huge impact on popular culture and was even used on the U2 PopMart tour.

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Depictions of violence and their acceptability have been constantly questioned in the name of art or commerce

Quentin Tarantino uses the same postmodern violence in his films, stylish and ironically exaggerated. “Tarantino said that cruelty is just another color of his palette. There are so many quotes, parodies and irony in his films that it looks like the truth: everything is deception, everything is fiction. " Indeed, both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction reflected the nostalgic stylizations of the 1990s prevalent in the fashion of the time, but this irony made them even more controversial, as portraying extreme cruelty and drug abuse in a half-derisive manner worried too many …

Tarantino saw that sophisticated clothing from agnès b. makes the appearance of his characters sophisticated, and combined elegant outfits with sharp, slang speech - thanks to this, his characters seemed very "cool", although most of them were just petty criminals. The manner of dressing, gestures and speech style from his films were copied by many, the narcissism of his male characters was interrupted by sudden bouts of excessive violence, clothes were stained with cinematic blood, emphasizing the instability of feigned coolness. But this apparent instability did not diminish the appeal of Tarantino's looks, which became the starting point for a slew of fashion shoots in men's magazines like Arena that sought to embrace this imperturbable, brutal style.

Some viewers tended to confuse fictional cinematic imagery with the perceived rise in violence in reality, further complicating the debate over representations of urban crime. The desire to maintain a semblance of control over life, to look calm and confident within defined, enduring identities led to a fashion for simple silhouettes and structured, crisp styles that lent prestige and significance to violent movie characters and obscured the chaos of city life. Both consumers and manufacturers wanted to experiment, new ethical rules in the blurred zone between the real and the fictional were constantly challenged. Clothing companies, merchants, photographers and designers have pushed the boundaries of what is permissible more and more in order to attract the attention of increasingly sophisticated consumers, tired of being overly exposed to visual stimuli. This means that depictions of violence and their acceptability have been constantly questioned in the name of art or commerce. As Durkheim wrote: “The feverish, insatiable pursuit of the imaginary devalues ​​existing reality and makes it neglect. People are tormented by the thirst for new, not yet experienced pleasures, not experienced sensations; but the latter immediately lose their salt as soon as they become known."

Photos: Lions Gate Films, United Artists Studio, Miramax Films

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