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Fashion and Culture

To start with, what the author discusses in the essay are the definition of fashion,the meaning of fashion and the interaction of this meaning with cultural values and finally he discusses the communication of fashion. Then author emphasizes the ways fashion uses to communicate and discussion of communication models that fashion uses by examining whether fashion is the meaning of an interaction between cultural values and visual culture or fashion is a reflection of an identity, a way to convey messages. Author mainly asks the question that fashion by itself can be a method of communication or not.

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Also supports that fashion is not a method of communication by itself, fashion needs shared meanings and cultural values to send a message. According to the author the definition o fashion is what western people wear and the important terms to use in defining fashion the western and modern, wearing clothes is not just up to a minute. She adds that we can see the link between the fashion and the social structure of a culture. For example if the culture is not civilized and immobile we can not expect this culture have a sense of fashion.

The author claims that fashion may be about bodies and by using Joanne Entwisle as a reference in transforming the fashioned bodies to cultured bodies in order to show the effect of culture on fashion. An other aspect the author uses to explain the nature of fashion is meaning. While explaining the term author avoids an account of meaning where meaning is a function of either individual intention or of clothing itself. She adds that in this essay she will use Barthes connotation because it refers work of culture .

The meaning of connotation in the essay can be called ‘all the way down’ and not build and based on anything that is not connotation. According to the author, Barthes connotational meaning is explicitly the product of culture. Since meaning is a product of cultural beliefs and values then different believes and values can generate different meanings. The author gives an example from Barthes famous account of famous Panzani advertisement to explain how different cultural beliefs and values can generate different meanings.

This example can be called as Italianicity, members of a culture who has no tourist industry,or no stereotype of Italians will not understand that meaning. Also an other result of this example is that Italians have will have a different take on ad from non Italians. So it can be said that in this example we can clearly see that culture and meaning is the terms that very related each other. A second term used to explore the fashion is communication. Basically the author mentiones about two model of communication. The first one is semiological/cultural studies type .

The second one is an approach that sees the communication as an expression, or reflection or sending and receiving a message. To start with the first approach, which argues that communication through fashion is not simply sending and receiving of messages which is ‘because meaning doesn’t pre-exist the process of communication. And meaning doesn’t pre-exist the members of cultures who are communicating,communication cannot be the sending and receiving of pre-existing message,there is no meaning until interaction between cultural values items of fashion’ says the author.

According to this model cultural values,beliefs and shared meanings are essential for communication. The author uses some proponents in explaining this model such as Collin Campbel who critisizes the sender/receiver communication model in his essay ‘When the meanning is not a message: A Critique of the Consumption in the Communication Thesis’. Also the author shares the same belief with Wittgenstein, who argues that there are no private languages nor can be, in his ‘Philosophical Investigations’.

The second model of communication is sender/receiver model in which communication can be seen as sending and receiving messages and communication as an expression . The author seems to be totally disagree with this model . The proponents used for explaining this model are Elizabeth Rouse and Joanne Entwistle. Elizabeth Rouse decsribes fashion as ’conveying an impression’ while Joanne Entwistle says that ‘the clothes can be expressive of identity’. The cases used in the essay are basically for supporting the semiological /cultural studies type and explaining the communication models by giving examples.

The purpose of the first case study is to argue that: very well known people such as George Bush,Tony Blair and Osame bin Laden don’t try to explain themselves with the clothes they wear. They know that the clothes they wear can have meanings for different cultural groups but still it is not conveying a message in simple sense. It is not about expressing their identities to public by using their clothes as described in the sender / receiver model of communication.

The purpose of the second case is explaining that how the perception of hoodies change after media provided hoodies new set of values and ideas . And it also explains certain cultural groups may construct different meaning of a particular garment. In conclusion the aim of this essay explain the nature of fashion statements by investigating meaning and communication. Meaning and communication explained by the culture. The essay concluded that meaning and communication needs culture , so that culture is a very important factor to understand the fashion, also it is important for the fashion itself.


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