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Friday, May 30, 2008

Tome After Tome

After recently returning to Berlin from busy Paris, I began to enjoy life again. That is, soaking up the sun on my balcony, grilling nori-wrapped tiger prawns and diving into fashion books. Here, my essential summer reading, starting with Lars Svendsen's "Fashion Philosophy." While those two words don't usually sit side by side, the Norwegian philosopher seems to be a secret fashionista, particularly smitten with the freedom of expression the populist art form offers, even if he admits the magic is superficial. His analysis runs from Beau Brummell and Oscar Wilde to H&M and Martin Margiela, and includes huge, almost hysterical sentences like "Fashion can be used as an indicator of the process of civilization, because an awareness of fashion indicates self-awareness." Other books on the subject include Roland Barthes' "The Fashion System" and Georg Simmel's "Philosophy of Fashion," but they're rather dated. Ulf Poschardt's "Anpassen" seems too marginal (perhaps because it's available only in German), while Jean Baudrillard's and Pierre Bourdieu's approaches are too critical. After the long death-march of classic French theory, as in fashion, all eyes could soon be on Scandinavia.

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