Former students of mine might recall that we used to read selections from John Berger’s Ways of Seeing in class. I can’t remember a time when we made it very far into the text. The discussions would grow so animated that we’d read a few pages and then lose the lesson in endless spirals of debate. Certainly, not the model lesson, but good fun all the same. Anyway, the movie preceded the book. (and that is a sentence that English teachers do not get to say very often.) Take a look at the four part series which aired on the BBC in 1972.
Men’s fashion presents an exciting mixture of both the political and the aesthetic; aesthetic because the way all fashion excites the senses; political in the sense that Mary Louise Pratt means it: the body is a contact zone, a social space in which culture meets and grapples with itself.
Looking at sites like MaleFashionAdvice or shows like Queer Eye makes me think that now more than ever men are liberated to openly embrace fashion—or more precisely—liberated to now speak of the conscientious fashioning of their appearance. It wasn’t so long ago that GQ was an industry magazine meant for the wholesaler and haute couture was the language of the privileged class. In some ways we have see the democratization of exclusiveness, if for no other reason than it is better for the bottom line.
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