No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Life Fully Lived With Fashion and Costume

People often talk about the idea of having too much focus on clothing, or concern with appearance as simply superficial. There is of course a version of being worried about ones appearance that easily would seem to fall within such a category of lacking depth. My thought though is that even in these cases the way one treats their appearance reflects a deeper sense of the person, how they understand themselves, how they see what is possible for their lives, and whether they're able to establish a sense of balance between themselves and the world, or if they might be disjointed. Chasing trends, for example, could be seen to reflect a desire to fit in, or an interest in what's hip and new. Varying ones costume regularly could be understood as an exploration not only of how one expresses themselves, but also of what it is possible for a person to express. How we get dressed operates as a site of intersection and potential transformation of the social norms we seem to be given, and the creativity that is our own. That is, how are any of us as individuals going to negotiate those norms? We cannot simply escape them. But can we play them differently than how they've simply been shown to us?

Admittedly, some of us do not want to care to any large degree about what we wear. We have a certain range or even set of clothing that make us comfortable, and that is what we intend to stick with. Even here, I claim, such a person is expressing a particular understanding of themselves, and how they want to be in the world, as well as of how they expect that world will likely interact with them. It is simply a perspective they might more readily take for granted than the people that focus daily on their costume. There are many people too though that are well aware of their appearance and manage to present themselves with fine balance and choice of how they dress as well, and yet would not seem to greatly vary it, being comfortable, again, in a particular sort of range that just might be more tended to than the people that have one exact type of clothing they stick to.

Then there are those that vary their attire regularly, and manage to live brilliantly within such variation. One of the people I most admire for such ability is Vogue Nippon's editor Anna Dello Russo. Interestingly enough, I didn't like her look when I first came upon her. She even somehow almost bugged me. As I've continued to follow her various looks during fashion weeks, however, her passion for dressing and expressing herself, and her brilliant congruence with her job as editor of a serious fashion magazine is something I greatly admire. It would seem she's stepped into a version of living an expression of the life right for her that verges on the divine. You see, I'm not convinced that there is only one, or even only a few, versions of what it means to live a good life. Instead, I'm convinced that individuals must work hard, with dedication, perserverance, and a hell of a lot of passionate joy to discover and create the good life that is right for them.

If we allow for people to stand as representations of the iconic, then I would claim that what we can see of Anna Dello Russo's life represents just such a sense of divine expression. True, I don't know the details of her individual person. But that isn't here what I am talking about. In the iconic sense, what we see of her is a woman that lives in full commitment to the life she has--editor of a major fashion magazine, passionately expressing and creating the enormous range she sees offered through the art of clothing and accoutrement.

Here are a few images of her showcasing such brilliance.

As one final comment here, I think she too shows how what it truly means to capture and live in such brilliance and beauty is no straightforward, or singular thing. (And for real finally: notice too how if you really take up what she is doing, she makes the question of "do I like what she's wearing" completely irrelevant. Simple notions of "like" having nothing to do with this reality. Finally finally: notice too, she never wears any makeup. Interesting, isn't it, considering assumptions often made about superficiality, and dedication to appearance.)

image by Tommy Ton

image by Tommy Ton

image by Garance Dore

image by Tommy Ton

image by the Sartorialist

image by Tommy Ton

And finally, her mind blowing extravaganza for the recent masquerade in Paris hosted by Carine Roitfeld at Karl Lagerfield's famous apartment.

image by Tommy Ton

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