In our first constellation lecture of the term we were introduced the the concept of analyzing fashion in its cultures and subcultures . The deep connotations and significances of each item of clothing or jewelry. Our main focus in the lecture was on Madonna and her outfit worn on her 1990 ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour.
In the tour Madonna wears an outfit created by famous fashion designer Jean Paul Gautier. Our task was to analyse what styles the outfit drew from and what elements were original to it. And explain the likely reasons behind these choices.
We first looked at the pinstriped, navy pantsuit. A classic symbol of traditional masculinity, a working man’s outfit. The implication is clear, a feminist statement on the part of Madonna, she is wearing a man’s clothing. The cuts in the chest of the outfit are also significant. They slightly reveal the undergarments, highlighting Madonna’s breasts and revealing femininity.
Part way through the show, Madonna removes her pantsuit to reveal what’s been lurking beneath. A pink, silky corset. It radiates femininity in sharp contrast to the pantsuit. However, it does not conform to the traditional context of a corset. A corset was an undergarment to pull in a woman’s waist and lift her bosom leaving her chest rounded. Madonna is sporting a conical bra which achieves precisely the opposite effect. The sharp aggressive appearance denotes feminine power.
Another aspect of fashion is style over substance. The suit is a statement. The holes cut out serve no practical purpose and actually inhibit the practicality of the item. The same goes for the corset that does not function as a corset would traditionally and does not function at all as underwear as it is clearly being warn over the trousers.
Everything in fashion comes to the fore within a cultural context, an outfit such as Madonna’s was a controversial talking point in 1990. But in a more conservative era, it would never have been permissible. Fashion pushes boundaries but can only reach so far before it is quashed. Fashion is also a response to current cultural, social and political shifts. In this period, rights and acceptance for the LGBT community were in their infancy and Madonna was a powerful advocate on their behalf. Her outfit reflects this, confusing and muddying the waters of what are given to be traditional gender roles.
Despite never being particularly in tune with fashion, being a generic jeans and t-shirt kind of person. I feel this topic can relate to my practice in that fashion is a constantly evolving phenomenon in culture and is encompassed in the broad spectrum of design in the same manner as Graphic Communication. The ability to analyse the reasons for change can translate into my area of design and allow me to better understand the field I am entering into.