Intellectual Fashion/Fashion Intellectual: Luxury, Branding, and the Glamorization of Theory
Keywords:Fashion, Philosophy, Brand, Popularization, Media
In No Logo, Naomi Klein states: “It is not to sponsor culture but to be the culture”, referring to world-famous brands that started approaching new and experimental marketing techniques. Yet, as early as 1974, Pierre Bourdieu argued that the discourse on haute couture was already a discourse on haute culture, undoing the exquisitely philosophical prejudice that collocated fashion among small and frivolous things, unworthy of observation.
This paper returns to this question through investigating the case of Gucci Aria, which used famous books of philosophy and critical theory as props. Even if this is not a novelty in the fashion world – from Miuccia Prada’s “radical chic-ism” to Martin Margiela’s deconstruction – what is new is that fashion has found itself having to study and incorporate knowledge that comes from the so-called high culture usually aimed at a niche audience of intellectuals. This is more than the attempt of lifestyle branding to address social and political movements’ vindications as part of the social corporate responsibility strategy. What is the purpose behind selling theory itself? How can this exploitation carried out by fashion brands be read as a way of popularizing high culture? Are fashion designers playing at being organic intellectuals and is conspicuous consumption finding its new goal?
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