Sunday, February 28, 2010

Long Live McQueen

Kawamura's chapter "Fashion as an Institutionalized System" discusses the hierarchical structure that forms in the institutionalized system of fashion. This hierarchy is created by adding "social, economic, cultural and symbolic capital" to clothes, creating elite and luxury clothes.

So what gives a fashion designer an "enduring reputation"? According to Kawamura, the designer can't have just short-term success--to lose relevance means you no longer have the status as a designer. This means that you have to continue to put on shows, make clothes, be a part of the French trade system--otherwise who is going to remember you? Certainly not the suppliers or professionals who previously provided you with workmanship.

This reminded me of British fashion designer Alexander McQueen's situation. After McQueen's tragic suicide just days before this year's Fashion Week, everyone was wondering: what's going to happen to his fashion label? While the designer was certainly memorable--his alien-esque runway models and mile high, lobster hand-looking heels shocked the public--his line was still new, his name was just beginning to become world-reknowned outside of the fashion sphere, and his label actually didn't make that much money (launched in 2001, he didn't break even until 2007). While he had a "symbolic capital"--unique aesthetic--which brought him much status and fame, his line in question was not fully established yet. While Gucci Group has been announced to be continuing McQueen's line, it is not guaranteed to be successful without the personality of its original designer, which I believe to be its reason for success and fame. Only time will tell if socio-cultural-economical capital is enough to keep the label going without its amazing designer.

An update on the challenge: I still haven't bought anything...I'm waiting until Spring Break to do all the shopping my heart desires with friends from back home.

Amethyst Wang
Blog post 9

Kawamura, "Fashion as an Institutionalized System"
NYTimes Article "Alexander McQueen Line to Continue"

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