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'The Fashion Body as Memento Mori' by Christopher Breward

[blockquote]Fashion moves over the body in a similar way to an explorer scanning a map, seeking out peaks and inclines, shortcuts and vistas, though the landscape itself is never fixed.[/blockquote]
Click here to read essay

As literary accompaniment to The Fashion Body film season, our essay programme takes a wider look at the overarching debates and discussions raised by the brief as a whole. To begin this season of writing, Fashion Historian and Theorist Professor Christopher Breward tackles the ideas of the fashionably-attired body as a memento mori - in reflecting the human form beneath its surface, fashion in turn reminds us of our own mortality.

A new piece of writing will be launched on Tuesday and Thursday throughout the project, throwing the brief of The Fashion Body open to interpretation from a variety of journalists, authors, theorists and historians. Designed not as accompaniments to individual films or body parts, the essay programme is specifically designed chosen to contrast with the fashion film series, and hence for their ideas and arguments to spark debate in their own right.


  1. hudson
    17:20 20 Jul 2010
    It's nice to hear some intellectual debate around these films - not sure why you don't do it more. Good to have some writing about something other than the latest shoe or handbag.
  2. harley
    23:39 25 Jul 2010
    Is the Adoph Loos you refer to the same Adolph Loos who "contracted syphilis in the brothels of Vienna, by 21 he was sterile and in 1893 his mother disowned him. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1918, his stomach, appendix and part of his intestine were removed. For the rest of his life he could only digest ham and cream. He had several unhappy marriages. By the time he was fifty he was almost completely deaf; in 1928 he was disgraced by a paedophilia scandal and at his death in 1933 at 62 he was penniless."
    If so why would you bother with his opinions here in this context...or indeed at all?
  3. someonegreat
    04:48 26 Jul 2010
    How is that relevant to a discussion of Loos in the slightest?
    "Adolf Loos was an Austrian architect and theoretician, one of the most important representatives of Modern architecture. In his theoretical and practical works he developed a concept of Functionalist architecture free of decoration, which he regarded as superficial and subjective."
    It seems that his contribution to aesthetics should be what he is judged on, not his life. After all, Vincent Van Gogh was a madman who cut off his ear and sent it to a prostitute - do you belittle his work as a consequence?
  4. AndrewSmith
    10:53 26 Jul 2010
    True, but we aren't recognizing Van Gogh as a theorist in that context. What harley is saying is that surely Loos outlook on the world is going to be morbid due to his unfortunate experiences of life, so can it really be counted as theory, or just a sad perception of the world through black tinted glasses?