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During my Research and Analysis module, I’ve been looking a lot into the “Remix Culture” concept from different angles. From the birth of YouTube as the most important platform in the remix/ripping culture to my specific subject which is Fashion Remix. According to Lev Manovich, there are other concepts around what we nowadays call “remix”. In fact, “Remix” is what defined the post-modern culture and still continues to define our current generation (ripping and mash-ups are the most used practices in Art and Design in our present days). Similar practices in the past decades have helped Remix Culture get where it is today; for example, appropriation was much used to define some of the artists from the 80s who worked with collages based on other people’s photographs.[1] But here is what I want to focus on: Manovich in some way describes how this new Remix-Culture products now completely lack of meaningful content due to the speed in which ripping can be made, and what is most important, we are now seeing the ripping of the ripping where content that has been ripped is re-edited and flooded on the web (gifs are a great example of re-ripping).[2]

One of the subjects I teach at the University is Costume History in Fashion Design. Apart from being a major and fundamental source of inspiration for Fashion Designers and their collections, it is the foundation of what is called “Remix in Fashion” (see my post on Supermarket of Style). All of the clothing created in new collections in some ways rip off silhouettes, patterns, details, textures, and prints from older garments. The same happens in fashion editorials where Fashion Stylist and photographers create images that can be linked to iconic photographers as ‘homage’. In my opinion, the research on Costume History by students is used in a very simplistic way and the lack of significance pointed out by Manovich is there all the time. Another important fact is that it is really easy to have “Fashion” as a web-search topic; however, the outcome is full of wrong dated images that lead to misunderstanding when students are encouraged to do some research.

My aim for my Practice 1 Project is, on the one side, to accept and respect the Remix Culture we live in, trying to make the most out of it. If the final piece for a Fashion Design is undoubtedly a ripped piece of old contents, let these contents have the most significance from every angle. In The Fashion System, Barthes establishes three different structures for any particular garment, “one technological, another iconic, the third verbal. The technological structure appears as a mother tongue of which the real garments derived from it are only instances of ‘speech’. The two other structures (iconic and verbal) are also languages, but if we believe Fashion magazines, which always claim to discuss a primary real garment, these are derived languages, translated from the Mother tongue; they intervene as circulation relays between this mother tongue and its instances of ‘speech’ (the real garments).”[3]

What Barthes calls “technological” can be identified in Jules Prown’s Mind in Matter: An introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method as a Material Culture as “material culture” which “is also frequently used to refer to artefacts themselves, to the body of material available for such study” and “the study through artefacts the beliefs-values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions of a particular community or society at a given time.”[4] Barthes defines this as the translations from the mother tongue, the derived languages.

Costume History as a subject is directly related to this analysis where not only the technological processes in which the garment was manufactured are relevant, but the assumptions on how that garment was used in each body, its relation to other garments creating an outfit and how it is used in terms of Fashion as a sociological event, all of which work together as a system. Every Fashion student should be aware of these aspects when looking for collection inspiration and that is why I’ve chosen to create an interactive piece with Costume History clothing in order to bring relevant and practical researches behind collections.

There are designers who work in more congruence with these concepts and embracing past costumes, not only for their constructions but also for their beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions. One of these designers is Vivienne Westwood. She manages to always make a statement through political issues and she always turns to historical costumes and the ways they were used to create new fashion proposals.

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Vivienne Westwood during the 70s in Punk outfits.

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1981 /1982: Designs based on Pirate costumes and Renaissance garments.

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1990 / 1991: Pagan inspired collections where she used corsets and Rococó pieces from The Wallace Collection in London.

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1995/1996: Anglomania collections using corsets, crinolines, bustles and Harris Tweed.

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2012: Vivienne Westwood walks the catwalk on The Climate Revolution Collection.

Another designer that Manovich mentions in his article is John Galliano. He does recur to historical costumes but not as meaningfully as Westwood. He creates these enormous remixed outfits that gather so much information that they get nullified. In fact, the example that Manovich describes is perfect to see the difference between using old content to create a statement or just to make fuzz when it comes to the catwalk.

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The 2004 / 2005 collection cited by Manovich where vagabond looks, yemenite traditions and East European motifs are mixed.

As a conclusion, the graphic piece I aim to is a tool to create re-mixings (here is where the interactivity makes it appearance) but with researched garments analysed and described by professionals in the subject (that’s why I chose a Museum as my client), which will give the student the educational tools for a Fashion statement.


[1] Manovich, Lev (2007) ‘What comes after Remix’. What comes after Remix. Available at: http://issuu.com/rickyricardodesigns/docs/r_perez_p2?e=6717650/1398538# [Accessed: 1/4/2014]

[2] A great example of re ripping is the Visual Albúm released by Beyonce recently. The album contains 17 videos and some presentation videos that rip off the original ones. The web has been flooded with gifs of the ripped presentation videos which makes them a third rip of the original images. Re ripped gifs: http://www.thewire.com/culture/2013/12/wire-gif-guide-beyonces-new-visual-album/356130/

[3] Barthes, Roland (1983) The Fashion System. United States of America: University of California Press.

[4] Prown, Jules David (1982) ‘Mind in Matter: An introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method as a Material Culture’. Winterthur Portfolio. Vol. 17 (Spring, 1982). P 1-19

Images Sources:

http://www.viviennewestwood.co.uk/

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/09/16/vivienne-westwood-talks-climate-change-china-and-kate-middletons-topless-photos/

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