This salon event, organised by Jonathan Faiers, Dellores Laing and Debbie Malynn, was held at the picturesque location along the canal at The Barge House.
It was the perfect venue for an “underground” collaboration of writers, curators, historians, artists, actors, musicians designer-makers and other innovators involved in fashion.
Presentations were interspersed with fabulous food, performance, film, music and art, making the experience memorable.
The main aim of the event was to create a dialogue across a multi-disciplinary group to discuss the fashion industry, and how the sector has become lack-lustre since the emergence of online purchase and social media.
The day started with a film by Andrew Groves, University of Westminster, who showed a thought-provoking film about how social media develops our trends, which in turn creates a lack of intimacy and engagement with fashion itself.
Anabella Pollen (University of Brighton) gave a fascinating talk about her research into The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, described as intellectual barbarians of the 1920s. They dressed in extraordinarily designed uniform clothes with showed references to Japanese kimonos and Robin Hood hunting clothes.
The clothes were meant to symbolise a Utopian ideal, a sub culture that was focused on physical and mental well-being.
Best known for his role as Fashion Editor for BLITZ magazine, Iain R. Webb gave us an interesting talk about his work as fashion designer, journalist and curator, showing that fashion can be an effective vehicle for expressing political views.
Catherine Spooner, Lancaster University, gave us a riveting presentation on ghostly apparel and how the fashion industry has used this representation to create mystery and contradiction in the media.
Emeritus in Visual Culture, Barry Curtis, discussed the many ways in which fashion provides memories of the perfect moment. The time travel we experience through fashion photographs give us glimpses of the past and possible inspirations for the future.
Throughout the day plenary and discussion sessions provided opportunities for dialogue. Elizabeth Wilson, author of Adorned in Dreams, was a catalyst in directing us to see clothes as a method self-expression.
She expressed her observations that the ‘hunt is gone’ and the excitement of fashion system did not function as it once did. We have too much choice resulting in apathy and a focus on comfort rather than beauty.
The idea of the Death of Fashion raises many questions about how we engage with the new fast fashion designs on the high street, and the lack of innovation on our catwalks. After all style, rather than fashion, is timeless. Individuals adopt styles that suit their personality, rather than following the latest trends on social media.
Andrew Groves showed us examples of communities online that through collaboration and emotional connections come together to create new fashion designs that are meaningful for niche groups. Secret tribes, that identify with one another through shared endeavour. They are showing us a new way to prevent the death of fashion.
What made this event really unique were the performance pieces. Before lunch Eve Ferret gave an entertaining repartee and song, presenting us with her Fondant Fancies, then after lunch Dahc Dermur V read three texts from Roland Barthes, Elizabeth Hawes, and Giacomo Leopardi.
As a finale before the screening of Frances Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black, Chicks on Speed performed an especially composed new work Corporeal Breakdown Fashion Circuits.
For more information about the salon series please contact Jonathan Faiers.