Modes of the Metropolis: The City as Photography's Fashion Icon
The world's fashion capitals - Paris, London, New York, Milan and Tokyo - have been established through a complex set of formulations that revolve around systems of production, distribution and consumption. While cities have long relied on fashion for cultural and economic domination and distinction, fashion has also adopted the city's mythologies of modernity, romance and glamour. In many ways photography has acted as a cultural intermediary between the two, playing a significant role in the branding of cities as style sites and in accessorising fashion with iconic monuments and streetscapes. Each of the world's major fashion capitals has a unique and enduring identity that has in part been established through photography. In the collective imagination Paris is poised and elegantly chic, New York is dynamic and modern and London is dignified and purposeful. In analysing magazine and advertising photography, this paper interrogates the language and mythology of fashion city rhetoric. It argues that photography establishes cities as objects of fashion, that is, repositories of ideas and meanings to be desired and consumed. These images are so successful that locations not immediately associated with high fashion status have been similarly posed so as to participate in the fashion capital's symbolic economy of style. This paper questions if in making these allegorical comparisons fashion photography creates a problematic narrative for the fashion city, where the authenticity and distinctiveness of its objects are uncertain. Alternatively, is the appropriation of fashion city rhetoric simply borrowing from a lexicon of style the serves to reinforce fashion's economy of desire? Key Words: Fashion cities, fashion photography, narrative.
3rd Global Conference Fashion: Exploring Critical Issues