Friday, June 11, 2010

Fashion, lingerie and shadows

click photo to enlarge
"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish playwright, poet and author

Wilde's sentiments, you suspect, would not be shared by most people today, so effectively have we been brainwashed into believing that new is better, that being fashionable is desirable and makes us desirable, and that anyway it is inevitable so we might as well enjoy it.

Fashion is, it seems inevitable, but that doesn't mean we should enjoy it or that it is intrinsically enjoyable. I think we sometimes forget that its sole purpose is to part the public from their money, and fashion shouldn't be confused with "styling" or "design". I've sounded off elsewhere in the blog about the idiocy and wastefulness of the fashion for bottled water, the stupidity of the public in paying more rather than less for clothing that has large adverts for the manufacturer plastered all over it (watch the current soccer World Cup spectators for mind-blowing evidence of this), and the craziness of the fashion for jeans that are artificially aged and torn before you buy them for a sum of money that is greater than you'd spend on a new, undamaged pair.

However, yesterday, when I attended an exhibition at The Hub, Sleaford, of women's underwear with my wife (I definitely needed to add those last three words in this sentence!), I was reflecting on the amazing discomfort that women put themselves through in the name of fashion. From the 1920s bras designed to minimise the size of the bust to the 1950s Playtex rubber corset that claimed to reduce the size of hips, there seemed to be no form of self-torture that wouldn't be sold and bought in the name of fashion. And when underwear wasn't being purchased with the intention of making parts of the body smaller, it was manufactured with the opposite in mind, as with the wired uplift of the "Wonderbra", or the bra that had inflatable sections to increase the apparent size of the bust at will, amply demonstrated.

Well, the ups and downs (and ins and outs) of female fashion was very interesting, and the exhibition was certainly worth seeing, but as well as illumination about the history of female undergarments, I was also pre-occupied with the possibility of finding an image with which to feed the blog. This is the one that caught my eye, a mannequin and its multiple, overlapping shadow, the result of the strong display lighting. The image looks a little like an example of "colour popping", but it isn't, as a close inspection of the shadows will reveal.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 8.8mm (41mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.5
Shutter Speed: 1/60
ISO: 320
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On