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Reclaiming the Substance of Clothing: The Surreal Spectacle of Lady Gaga

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Asbjorg Dunker

If we consider clothes and fashion primarily as objects to looking, we fail to understand the embodied activity they are subject to, and thus we fail to understand how significant clothes can be in bridging the interior world of a being to the exterior world of being.

‘In certain almost supernatural inner states, the depth of life is entirely revealed in the spectacle (Baudelaire in Bachelard 1994:192)

An artist like Lady Gaga amplifies the truth in the above quote. Lady Gaga does not only master the spectacle, she masters the art of dressing and in doing so she materialises profound meaning and thoughts. “The exterior spectacle helps intimate grandeur unfold,’ says Bachelard (1994:192), as he explains how, in the spectacle, the vast world and the vast thoughts are united. “For this grandeur does not come from the spectacle witnessed, but from the unfathomable depths of vast thoughts’ (Bachelard 1994:192).

Before Lady Gaga, no other art movement has embraced fashion and its instruments as surrealism. Touching on the imagery of woman, but more significantly touching on the correlation between the world of real objects and the objects of the mind (Martin 1987). For the surrealist, fashion became the most compelling friction between the ordinary and the extraordinary, between body and concept, between artifice and real. Through fashion the surrealist vision and faith was connected between the everyday and the exceptional, by which they came to “identify the insurrection art offers to daily life (Martin 1987:9).

Considering fashion in this light enables us to consider clothes and the act of dressing, as facilitating exposure of ourselves, our thoughts and thus shape aspects of our life. Clothing thus has no superficial meaning, as they enable us to articulate certain areas and aspects of human life. In fact, matters of fashion are particularly powerful in their implications exactly because of this close and intimate relation to human beings.

Through my practice as a style consultant, I realise that the real art of the stylist is to teach the clients that the choices they make when buying and wearing clothes can have a profound effect on their personal experience of a given situation. To teach these clients the true connection between the act of dressing, their inner voice and the way the world perceives them as an individual is to enable them to achieve a greater fulfilment in their lives. The transformation of individuals into one, who can choose to become their own spectacle, is the pinnacle of my practice.


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This Work, Reclaiming the Substance of Clothing: The Surreal Spectacle of Lady Gaga, by zbeck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license.