Monday, February 1, 2010

Deconstruction & Fashion

by PeiRong Zhou

According to Martin Mcquillan, deconstruction is the rethinking of the conceptual and non-conceptual foundations of the western tradition. It examines the way in which Western thought is structured. Jacques Derrida suggested that Western thought is structured in terms of binary oppositions, the separation of conceptual material such as Man/Woman; Black/White equally. However, these terms are not true opposites since one is always privileged over the other. An example he gives would be the concept of speech as more important than and as logically prior to writing. Another example from Helene Cixous exhibits the advantage of a masculine characteristic over feminine ones and how such binary oppositions are not the way things are but how is perceived by western though.

The privileging of terms is called logo centrism. It divides the world into a binary system of oppositions and proceeds to change the weight and importance of on both sides of the world and ends up with a way of thinking which makes thoughts impossible without an appreciation of the ‘inherent’ superiority of one term over the other.

Deconstruction suggests that opposite concepts are constructions. Yes and no are words that represent opposing feelings but the words themselves are not opposites. Black and white represent associations that change from culture to culture.

Deconstruction, Mcquillan thinks, reminds us of the different perceptions of each individual of the world. In an example, the term ‘Here and now’ is never identical to the actual moment in which one was referring to. He also mentioned that logo centrism is a form of metaphorisation. All words are metaphors in which a word could bring about images of things closely related to it and that the successful maintenance of this depends upon users of language to be ignorant about it.

For deconstruction to take place, the binary must be reversed, as showing that binary opposition at work is necessary. Deconstruction is a false opposition working, however, stopping it would restore the inequality and there would be no changes towards the unequal system in the first place. Therefore, it is necessary to remove the whole system of binary thinking and binary logic which is the only way the binary is said to be undone.

Comme de Garcons, 2006, the design combines two opposing aesthetics giving both a presence but denying either totality. Both aesthetics are in play with one another.

However, deconstruction shows that it is impossible to escape from logo centric thinking as escaping from it requires thinking in a way not yet though of and the only way to think in another way would be to think in our current logo centric mode of thought. Similar to the unconscious, it would be part of our conscious once we recognize it. To escape this logo centrism would lead us to back to logo centrism. Hence the beginning statement of deconstruction is an impossible method as while deconstructing, one is still constructing. See Alexander McQueen deconstructing here.

In Deconstruction:The making of unfinished, decomposing and re-assembled clothes, Allison Gill explores and dissects the meaning of ‘deconstruction’ in Fashion as well as philosophy, fueled by the writings of Jacques Derrida. She begins with the start of deconstructed fashion, enabled by experiments in architectural design following the Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition at MoMA in 1988. Both design forms share a range of similar concepts such as structure, form, fabrication and construction.

The transparency of forms in Comme des Garcons and Maison Martin Margiela, 2009

She states that deconstruction in fashion is somewhat like an auto-critique of the fashion system, revealing the draw and attraction of fashion such as the glamour, fantasy and exclusivity and technical aspects such as form, stitches and fabrication. Deconstruction, in a literal level, conotates the reversal of construction, thus the unfinished or destroyed look of garments. Deconstruction was first seen as a rebellion against fashion in the 80s and the acceptance and movement into the domain of fashion was deemed contradictory and deconstruction was seen as another superficial trend.

Karl Lagerfeld, Dries Van Noten, and Hussein Chalayan, F 2009

In the second part of the article, Gill wanted to suggest that there was more to the association of dress and deconstruction than a wish to destroy functionality. The deconstruction style in the recession zeitgeist was more of a reflection of issues related to a particular time period, hence decaying garments to economic recessions.

The general definition of deconstruction as a practice of undoing construction would mean the liberation of garments from its function, which is not applicable. Her point is that deconstruction is the dressed down version for it’s application to fashion and that fashion could possibly have a prescribed function.

Margiela, Spring 2009

Derrida refuses to define exactly what deconstruction is as that would repeat the tradition in philosophy, the mode of questioning where a name seeks to represent the essence of the subject which could be seen as the construction and basis on how something is defined in philosophy. The word ‘Deconstruction’, as the undoing of construction, is not only unable to capture the essence of deconstruction itself, but Derrida also felt that there is no definite answer for what deconstruction for this though process of deconstruction could never be fully comprehended.

Deconstructed fashion is neither purely about philosophy nor about fashion. It is a different thinking of fashion. Margiela however revisits and reconfigures fashion and that the form is always produced through fashion’s history and that the ideal form is made at the expense of history that creates the desire for that ideal and that these forms are reflections on it’s place in the history of fashion. Read more on this article here.

1 comment:

  1. This is FASCINATING. I hope it's ok but I will link to this in my paper crafts blog. I was having a hard time trying to explain what I meant (especially since it's a concept I haven't studied but just picked up on when visiting art museums and randomly reading the odd artist statement here and there)- and this is a perfect intro to the subject. THANK YOU!