By Llewellyn Negrin (auth.)
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Additional resources for Appearance and Identity: Fashioning the Body in Postmodernity
As he writes: The preference for casual clothing is symptomatic of the new age of individualism . . [It] mark[s] the rise of neonarcissism in fashion, the emergence of a personality more insistent on individual autonomy, less dependent on standards of prestigious display, less concerned with competition and obvious social differentiation in appearance . . It expresses less a position in the social hierarchy than a desire for personality, a cultural orientation, a lifestyle, an aesthetic outlook .
As Hollander writes: It is tempting to . . subscribe to the notion of a universal, unadorned mankind that is universally naturally behaved when naked. But art proves that nakedness is not universally experienced and perceived any more than clothes are. At any time, the unadorned self has more kinship with its own usual dressed aspect than it has with any undressed human selves in other times and places, who have learned a different visual sense of the clothed body. It can be shown that the rendering of the nude in art usually derives from the current form in which the clothed figure is conceived.
While this freewheeling play with appearance may appear liberating insofar as it highlights the culturally mutable nature of identity, at the same time, it carries with it the danger of a total dissolution of the self as one’s identity becomes completely subsumed by the changing mélange of masks one adopts. The “undercoding” of items of dress in postmodern culture, though potentially emancipatory in freeing up the fixity of meaning associated with the clothing of earlier periods, can also lead to a nihilistic experimentation with style for style’s sake in which the various sartorial assemblages signify nothing beyond themselves, and in which one loses one’s sense of self.
Appearance and Identity: Fashioning the Body in Postmodernity by Llewellyn Negrin (auth.)