Alongside the 2012 SHOWstudio Shop exhibition Selling Sex, SHOWstudio launches a unique project under the provocative title Fashion Fetish. Created entirely by women working in fashion - including Ruth Hogben, Daphne Guinness, Liberty Ross, Rei Nadel, Asia Argento, Aimee Mullins and Dasha Zhukova of Garage magazine - these fashion films, performances and multi-media pieces make a comment on the fusion of fashion with fetish, a contentious and provocative subject. Each piece will be accompanied by an essay by a female writer, each written in 'response' to a specific film. One piece will be released each week for the duration of the Selling Sex exhibition, and beyond.
If, historically speaking, a fetish is a manufactured object which has magical powers, or one that people are irrationally devoted to, fashion is a veritable fetish-factory of 'It' shoes, 'Now' bags, and garments that magically propose to make your life indefinably better. On a less abstract level, fashion has been obsessed with sexual fetishism for centuries. The subtle constraint of the corset, the snugly-gloved hand, a shiny boot of leather - all staples of the well-dressed man or woman, and equally the well-equipped Sado-Masochist. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Pandora's Box of fashion fetish was blown apart - from Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's proposal of 'rubberwear for the office' in their seminal London boutique SEX, to Gianni Versace's sanitised 'Bondage Chic' of 1992, to the power of John Galliano's 'Sado-Maso' haute couture collection for Christian Dior in 2000, designers articulated the sexual peccadilloes of a select few across the international catwalks. It's fetish as fashion.
Fashion Fetish hands the power entirely to female fashion professionals, asking them to address the notion of Fashion Fetish and examining their individual visions of women. In contrast with Selling Sex, which reimagines the female relationship with sex, Fashion Fetish focuses on a woman's relationship with clothing. Although as fashion historian Anne Hollander has asserted, the nude in art always wears 'The fashion of her time' - fashion's influence can be felt across the naked flesh, her body as 'fashioned' as a corseted ball-gown. Dressed or undressed, this project offers a clear field, a blank canvas and an open mind to a selection of some of the most important women working in fashion today - designers, stylists, models and image-makers - inviting them to present their own interpretation of Fashion Fetish. Their visual interpretations of the Fashion Fetish theme are then used as the inspiration for a host of female authors, journalists and cultural commentators to 'unpick' fetish in a series of accompanying essays, each written to correspond with a particular piece.