Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shoes and fashion

click photo to enlarge
"And, after all, what is a fashion? From the artistic point of view it is usually a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish playwright, poet and essayist

Oscar Wilde's jaundiced observation on fashion will not find favour with those who design, sell and buy it. But, as ever with him, there are serious points within his outrageous and forceful remark. All fashion is transient and consequently, though "looks" re-appear periodically, it is concerned with changing the surface appearance of people and objects and coming up with a "new look". But, the simple fact is you can't do that for decades - centuries even - and always end up with something that is a pleasure to look at: so often fashion is most certainly "intolerable" in one way or another. Many people will object to this and say that fashion is fun, interesting, harmless. I would argue that it is wasteful of resources and, because its main purpose is to transfer money from the pocket of the consumer into those of the manufacturers and sellers, wasteful of our hard earned cash. Moreover, good design (not usually the same as fashion at all) is perfectly capable of investing products with innate (rather than superficial) qualities that will make us choose one thing over another. For more of my thoughts on fashion, style and design see this post called, appropriately enough, Fashion, Style and Design.

Today's photograph was taken near Covent Garden in London. What amazed me about this shop was the way the shoes were displayed like works of art or revered pieces in a museum. I was also intrigued by how similar most of them were. Clearly these are shoes that are designed to be looked at rather than worn in any utilitarian, work-a-day way. Wouldn't it be interesting to return to the shop in six months and test the veracity of Wilde's remark.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 205mm
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 1250
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On