Aware Art Fashion Identity

Royal Academy GSK 02.12.10 – 30.01.11

Aware demonstrates how Art and Fashion amalgamate to show that clothing is a powerful instrument for communicating identity in many different ways.

I was particularily struck by Alicia Framis installation in the show.

Alicia Framis addresses social components in contemporary living. Her work highlights shifts between different cultural heritages and the emotions of fear and tensions linked to intercultural dynamics. For this piece she collaborated with several fashion designers to make up dress designs using the Chinese flag the very fabric and emblem of China.
I visited the show with a friend over on holiday from Beijing and on viewing Alicia Framis work I found him to be quite shocked at seeing the flag turned into fashionable wear. ‘That, he said, you could not show in China, it could be seriously dangerous to do so.
In Europe and America I have seen many celebrities from pop stars to actors pledge their nationalism by wearing the flag. But China went through a phase of militant anti-fashion ideology during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. This bleak time for Chinese fashion began in 1949 and lasted 30 years. Years on the country is one of the biggest if not the biggest exporter of fashion garments in the world. The textile industry is one of its fastest growing economies and rose by 35% in November over the same period last year. Rising living standards in China have meant an increasing interest in style and fashion awareness. Yet paradoxically it is foreign western labels like Gucci, Louis Vuiton and Channel that are much preferred over their own lesser-known emerging designers. Conversely many western high-end designers have included Chinese influences in their catwalk shows.
Below is an image that was taken in the streets of Bejing by Ken Wang resident stylist and fashion correspondent to this blog.

I am fascinated by the outward developments as seen in attire and fashion of the current political climates. In fact the assimilation of opposites, the merging of skills and styles from different cultures should promise richer ideas and diverse creations and above all new identities.  I am watching the space!
China is a nation that has 5000 years of history. It is one of the oldest civilizations and hence has an incredibly rich tradition of dress. The delicately embroidered robes with symbolisms of old and the manufacture of cotton fabric and silk goes back millennia. Major differences between traditional Chinese tailoring skills and western tailoring skills used to be in the cutting of the fabric. The early twentieth century, also constituted a golden age for China, many Western merchants came to Shanghai; they brought with them the distinctive western influence of molding with darts and cutting western suits. This changed the styles of Chinese dress to a mix of Western and Chinese. The modern Chinese tunic suit or so later called the Mao suit was invented replacing the old traditional robes and style of dress. Then later following on from years in isolation the country’s Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. Today again China lives through a golden age where global influences and new ideas and technologies are being integrated and amongst much else also create new styles and new ideologies of fashion. Exciting times!

The Law on the National Flag of China as follows:
“People’s Republic of China’s Law on the National Flag” Article XVIII: the national flag and its design must not be used for trademarks and advertising, it shall not be used for private funeral functions. Article XIX also sates in public, intentionally burning, mutilating, insulting such as trampling on the flag of the People’s Republic of China shall be held criminally accountable. In a less serious case, public Security Ordinance penalties will be imposed by public security authorizes such as detained for 15 days.

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One Response to Aware Art Fashion Identity

  1. Photographer says:

    Sounds absolutely fascinating, clearly so much talent to be seen! Thanks for sharing!

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