Fashion as Art: Salvage Beauty

I hope many of us visited the Met this spring/summer to view the exhibition organized by the Costume Institute showcasing many of Alexander McQueen’s famous runway masterpieces. I believe that Lee Alexander McQueen was an art but instead of painting he expressed himself through clothing. Often his works were based on historical events as well as political and sociological views.

Here is a link that does a walk through of exhibit just in case you missed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rgiyk_oPE-E

Pricing a Look

I found Pricing Beauty Chapter one most interesting of the reading for this week. Probably because I am mystified by the rail thin women designers employ to promote and sell their clothing designs. Also, I understood that models are signed to agencies that set up their appointments and take a cut of their earnings, but I was surprised how big of a cut the agency takes. What baffled me was what set the girls I see in campaigns for my favorite designs from the all the other girls aspiring to be them. I thought it always had to do with their ‘look’ and maybe a bit on who they knew. Never did I imagine that their personality and networking would account for so much. I guess it makes sense, since all of the girls around about the same build and there are only so many different variation in their face. Once again, we are working with signs in a system.

What different individuals value as beauty sets the price tag for the model. I never realized how much that relates to art, especially with current artist. When art is put into galleries, the gallery takes a chuck of what ever the art sells for. To get into a gallery depends on who the artist know sand that is based on where their work has been showed before. From there, the artist develops social connections and then much of their current success springs from there. Again, for current and upcoming artist. So Mears was right, models are truly cultural products. And the more their world is left hidden the more we buy into the idea that they are genetically superior, rich, and live a life of fashion and glamour. While even the models we see in our favorite campings may become rich, their lives are not full of glamorous tales.  And, for every ‘winner’ there are thousands of girls who spend their youth looking for their ‘Big Job’ and many end up in thousand of dollars in debt in search for the glamorous life. Even Mears admits to being caught up in the glamour and not wanting to quit in hopes that she might actually make it in the industry. It almost reminds me of wanting to be a fashion designer. We know the obstacles in our way and not to mention the thousands of others that want the jobs just as bad as we do but, will most likely make or break us will be what others price our ‘look’. Looking outside in, we all seem crazy for desiring this.

 

Plástica

As I read the journal by Alexander Edmonds on the enormous plastic surgery industry and how it is view as a treatment or even a cure to low self-esteem. As a result of this common belief, plastic surgeries are paid for by Catholic charities as well as Federal funding in a time where their public healthy care system is in many ways failing. Also, the private practices of plastic surgery are found everywhere, even in poor communities because to have ‘simple surgeries’ is a sign as middle class. Although in Brazil, the middle class is the minority among social classes. Often times these surgeries are to make the patient meet social standards to better fit and society.

This reminded me of a short documentary I saw about double eyelid surgery in China. At this point, the market has been made into a production line and is often is a tenth or even twentieth of the cost it would be in the United States. The patient go into the clinic, fill out some paper work, wait in a long line, and then go in for surgery that day. No consolation, not meant a doctor prior. Many Chinese are opting to get this surgery is fit the more western standards of beauty and this reminded me so much of the woman, Naci, who wanted to get rhinoplasty after loosing her job. Then her nose was described as an ugly ‘negroid nose’. That the standards of beauty seem to be more based on race rather than actual shapes of the body. And this I feel breaks the Brazilian idea that beauty is accessible, even to the pour, because it is unrealistic to change someone’s natural origins through surgery to fit in.