THEOREM[A]: The Body, Emotion + Politics in Fashion

New Polimoda publication spotlights leading figures of contemporary fashion


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Polimoda launches THEOREM[A]: The Body, Emotion + Politics in Fashion, a fashion publication ideated by Danilo Venturi and published by Skira Editore. Formatted as a series of interviews conducted by author and curator Filep Motwary, the text probes the minds of legendary figures in contemporary fashion, from Hussein Chalayan to Jean Paul Gaultier, Pamela Golbin, Iris van Herpen, Harold Koda, Michèle Lamy, Thierry-Maxime Loriot, Antonio Mancinelli, Suzy Menkes, Violeta Sanchez, Valerie Steele, Jun Takahashi, Olivier Theyskens and Viktor & Rolf, to investigate the dressed body as a political statement.

Below, an excerpt from the book’s foreword by Danilo Venturi with an introduction by Filep Motwary.

FOREWORD, Danilo Venturi

What interested us was the direct testimony of human beings exactly as it is, and to place that at the centre of focus. There was no need to filter, copy and paste, quote, and pretend to be authors of philosophical macro-systems. It’s the same approach that we use as educators. We can provide themes, models and tools, but in the end what we really want is that the personality of the students come out, eventually to the point of contradicting and amazing us. A book of interviews teaches us that there may be different languages, approaches and opinions on the same subject, although the interviewees all come from the creative industry. For me this is a small lesson of tolerance and an education to respect diversity.

If in Momenting The Memento we talked about Fetish, Monsters and Bridges, this time we wanted to focus on Body, Emotions and Politics. In the digital age the body experiences a great contradiction. Photoshop is the new cosmetic, the body is modified, and flaws are corrected, so the body is enhanced and somehow, augmented. On the contrary, our body is seen more in social networks than in the places where we find ourselves physically. The body here doesn’t sweat, the image is flat, artificial and cold, so the body is somehow exposed but not lived, and therefore denied. And the paradox lies right in the fact that the more our image is swiped the more it is denied.

Moving from different premises we arrived at the same conclusion as Hussein Chalayan, when he showed that the more the dress gives way to nudity the less nudity is interesting, at the point that only a glance could give us back the emotion denied. What really matters is the space in between, that game called fashion that makes the difference between a helpless animal simply in need to cover itself to survive and the human being as an uncanny entity, evolved in all its splendour and ferocity. Reproduction and survival, Eros and Thanatos, are still the main engines of all our emotions, fears and wishes. Fashion is the stage where these engines are shown.

Each era has its dominant themes and fashion readily reflects them. The quest for a more sustainable world, the equality between genders as well as between people and freedom of expression, are what make us understand how the dressed body is a political statement in the same way as our actions. Fashion is entertaining, it helps us to live more lightly, it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Nonetheless, fashion as a reflection of the society is also a privileged lens to see things more consciously. Perhaps that’s why we insist on doing it, following it and commenting on it. Perhaps this is the reason why I wanted Filep Motwary to write this new book. The necessity to sharpen the focus on the interlinked trilogy of the body, the mind, and politics is what he has seamlessly managed to question in this provocative series of interviews.

Filep Motwary in Paris - photo by Astra Marina Cabras

Filep Motwary | photo © Astra Marina Cabras
PREFACE, Filep Motwary

THEOREM[A] as the title of this book, was chosen as a metaphor for fashion and its psycho-synthesis, based on the three terms “body, emotion and politics”, as analysed by the pioneers, academics and designers contributing to this book, through interview testimonies.

These conversations were conducted either by phone, in person, Skype calls or email. My emphasis is on the body, collecting (perhaps) contrastive thoughts on its essence as well as how it is perceived; the vital element of emotion (as the key to longevity or poetic reality) and lastly the politics surrounding the current state of the fashion industry, as we (think we) know it.

The participants were selected for their professional integrity, their body of work and vast knowledge of historical and contemporary fashion, their gaze on fashion, and their contribution as a whole […]

Throughout the process, I insist on certain questions, trying to gather individual views on similar matters.

THEOREM[A] - Viktor & Rolf

THEOREM[A]: The Body, Emotion + Politics in Fashion was published by Skira and is available for purchase online. An additional interview with Nick Knight will be made available exclusively on the Polimoda Journal.