To my great surprise, my roommate got me Fashion Box for Christmas. This book includes “all key wardrobe pieces that are accessible and never lose their appeal”. It draws attention to these items and highlights cultural icons that have worn them.
On the first page, there’s two quotes:
“Fashion is one of the ways in which human beings sacrifice the external to the public domain, in order to safeguard their inner freedom more completely.” -Georg Simmel
“Fashion fades; only style remains the same.” -Coco Chanel
Antonio Mancinelli, who wrote the introduction Icons of Style: Our Desires Made Real, talks about individualism and how a sense of fashion expresses oneself, but also strengthens their distinctiveness. These next two sentences really caught my attention:
“Georg Simmel saw [fashion] as the coming together of two opposing tendencies that coexist in every individual: on the one hand, we feel a need to conform; on the other hand, we also want to differentiate ourselves.”
“But this division between the individual and collective also has another dimension: the tension between the desire for continuous change and the emotional drive to cling to certain fixed points that are fundamental and unchanging.”
Everyone, no matter how much of a non-conformist they may want to be, has an urge to fit in. The opposing desire is standing out. Simmel is saying that this want vs. need inclination makes up fashion. The other dimension of this division, is the strain between wanting new and different things to come about while at the same time, adhering to what one knows; the basics.
The introduction goes on to discuss legendary icons who have made certain items their signature. Because of this, our generation tends to correlate certain icons with specific items, yet opposed to today’s icons being “idealized” and “inaccessible”, “our new icons of style are much more human, and their attraction lies in the fact that they wear and do exactly what the rest of us wear and do, only better.”
My favorite sentence from the introduction says:
“Fashion has always been a means of escape from the boredom of the everyday world.”
I hope others see fashion this way too, because it’s so true. Think about it. Clothes present the opportunity to change how others see you, to express yourself, and to try different ideas. Fashion opens the door to creativity and makes our world more interesting.
All in all, I’m very happy to have received this book. I would recommend anyone to buy it or at least take a look at it. I can’t wait to go through the whole thing and see how people have worn the fundamentals of fashion differently over time.