Keffiyeh

Although it is not completely related to the reading and its moral, “Money has no smell” triggered a connection between the treatment of the Kente cloth African caps in comparison to the Palestinian Keffiyeh. The Keffiyeh is a traditional Arabian headdress that is commonly used by peasants in Palestine. It was initially used by men protecting themselves from the sun and the sand blown by the wind against their faces in the desert. Then, in the 60’s, the Palestenian resistance movement popularized the Keffiyeh to a more international extent. This grew even more around the year 2000 when the Keffiyeh became a trend among various cultures. The scarf was initially used for political reasons internationally, to stand p for the movement going on in Palestine, but as the scarves production became mass produced, more and more customers buying it became less informed of its meaning, and more concerned with its look. It soon became a common accessory used by celebrities, rappers and “trendsetters”. The Keffiyeh was seen everywhere, as a scarf, not as a headdress. A variation of colors started hitting the market, every color imaginable. The origins of the colors were used to suggest certain political parties, through the use of red, white and black, now they are used in order for sells to double.

The reason I was mostly reminded of this specific trend was because of the Ghanian reproduction in China Town and the question commenting on whether the clients wondered about the authenticity of the kent cloth. The origins and meanings were lost in translation and the production and reproduction became more important, losing value in the meaning of the item and turning it into an object bare of importance. 

Anthropologie

When you first walk into Anthropologie your senses are immediately pleased. From the very beginning the store is set up to give you a pleasurable experience. An attendant is placed at the very entrance just to say hello, they do not follow you around or force you to look at clothes that yo do not want to look at. They just recognize you as a customer and as an individual entering their store. The store is filled with “homey” smells and the decoration is wooden and laid back. You immediately feel as if there should be a fireplace somewhere in the store. A sense of comfort envelopes the whole space. You feel like you are shopping at home. I can see why people like to shop there, the environment is very pleasing and you immediately feel comfortable. A customer feels like they can spend as much time as they want there. There is no pressure to shop, you shop at your own leisure, and I feel this is a store that is very successful with customer service for that very reason.

…and then there was hierarchy

While reading Sze Tsung Leong’s “…And then there was shopping” I was immediately intrigued by the amount of shops versus churches, universities, hospitals, museums, etc. Having this information put so bluntly really struck me as interesting as it created a visual in which shopping literally takes the lead among all other cultural and behavioral aspects of humans. I have always been very much aware of the so called “shop-a-holics” but until now, I had not realized what an influence shopping had on a bigger level. Shopping seems to have set the bar not only as a dominant activity, but also as a cultural reflection of society. The things that one choses to surround themselves with generally represent the kind of person one is. Once upon a time, a person who visited various museums around the world, and could afford an education at a private university was automatically assumed to be a cultured person. Someone that was well travelled, relatively wealthy, and had a certain recognized level of education. Now, a person of the same background can prove their social status by the shirt on their back. The first example I related this with was actually from New York City.. tourists.

Having grown up outside of the United States there is one particular situation which struck me as intriguing. Apparently, it is not cool to wear Abercrombie and Fitch once you are past middle school in the States. However, in Europe, Abercrombie and Fitch is sold to a completely different crowd ranging from kids to teenagers to adults. It is very common to see women of a certain social group wearing Abercrombie and Fitch in Europe. The reason for this difference is because before Abercrombie was available in Milan and London, owning an article of clothing from that store and wearing it showed others that the person wearing it had traveled to the States. This automatically gave one the status of having traveled far, and a trip to the States in order to go shopping is not cheap, so that meant this person must be of a higher social class.

Tourists mostly come to NYC with the intentions of shopping. Shopping is the new metric system used to evaluate class levels and hierarchies.

“Visual Anxiety”

These readings cover material that is very close to the work that I surround myself with as a fashion photographer on a daily basis. For this reason I found it very interesting to read, as well as compare to the comments that my classmates have made in reaction to the readings.

Its very true, sex sells. Its been like this for years, and it doesn’t seem like it will change any time soon. However, this is what I find so fascinating about advertisement. The body of a woman is used to sell material off of it. Viewers are literally guided to want the clothes and jewelry off of that model, one does not find a connection with the model in the image, but rather a desire for the lifestyle that the clothes accommodate her with. Over the years, an on going dispute has gone on between men and women.. to embrace this, or to fight against it?

In the essay written by Stephanie Sadre- Orafai, she describes the selection and marketing of models while circling around the idea that the body has turned into a form of media. Idioms of beauty, desirability, and justice are taken into the hands of casting directors, and it is up to them to label the young men and women that walk into their doors with who they are, and what their body could sell. Models have turned into human hangers and coat stands. Deciding what is beautiful was long pulled out of the consumers grasp, and in its place was put the dictated acceptance of “beauty” from an extremely photoshopped billboard or glossy magazine page.

The media makes money off of this “beauty”, and consumers blindingly accept that this is what they must look like in order to fit the norm or be catalogued as desirable. While advertisements are made to make you believe you are different from the rest and you are free to make your own choices, the sex behind them screams so loud its almost become too common. Viewers face sex every day, in magazines, in window displays, on billboards, on the television. Sex has almost become banal.

Yet there is such a fascination with the human body and the exploration of self, that society can’t help but react to it. (Which I personally believe is what photographers and advertisers want) Whether this be in a negative way or positive. Sure, woman are constantly being objectified in images and used as sex symbols to sell clothes off a rack, but women have also grown to WANT to be seen as a sex symbol. The models are just doing their job, they are told to pose in a sexy way, and they do it. Younger generations are now also learning to pose this way, to carry themselves in a certain way in order to fit in with their friends. Fashion is affecting the younger generations, teaching them to be a certain way through the use of photography. Images are the easiest thing for young minds to soak in, they are provoking and influential.

Who decided what beauty was? Even in the 19th century, photographs were used for exploration of the body, scientifically as well as artistically. It seems that photographs always agree on a certain body type that they want to fix into their composition, but the origin of this decision is never clear. As women allow themselves to be influences by these sex symbols they so often see in the magazines (and claim to be offended by), they constantly fall into self transformation. Whether this is to conform with who society is telling them to be, or not to be, the media has found a way to manipulate visual markers through an uneasy sense of “heightened awareness, yet distrust of appearance”. How come the origin of appearance is so rarely talked about?

The woman body is constantly exploited, willingly or not, but so is a mans. Men are constantly used as background toys or props in fashion shoots. Yet, this is not a taboo subject, and is usually put on the back burner. Using a persons body to sell something in a fashion photo is extremely interesting, but what intrigues me is the unwilling fascination that comes from the viewer.

Japanese “Lolita” Goths

As I’ve always had a slight curiosity for this subculture, but never had the chance to look into it, I figured what better time than now?

 

The style of these women makes it seem as if they have stepped straight out of a comic book or an animation. As I looked further into this subculture to find out the significance for this specific look, which may seem like a costume to outsiders, I realized that much to my surprise Lolita fashion isn’t for the young but rather symbolizes the “eternal innocence and purity associated with childhood” within grown women.

 

The full look is worn on any day of the week, to casual every day events such as grocery shopping. Lolita is an evolving fashion composed of short puffy dresses with Victorian like frills and tights. There are atleast four categories; sweet, gothic, punk and classic.

 

While these different looks can be mixed, they are also accessorized, depending on their category, by make up (heavy eyeliner, pink wigs, glitter, etc) and wigs (depending on what the woman wearing it wants to convey)

 

The individuals in these groups create events among themselves called “Lolita Clubs” in which they organize events to meet for tea in parks (for example). They interact as a group and tend to stick together as they spread the word with their festive representation of their past and their present.