ART 302: Reading #4

Status, Power and Display

from Fashion, Desire, and Anxiety by Rebecca Arnold

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S T A T US

“Members of the upper class fought to maintain status by asserting their superior taste and financial strength, through elitism of couture. However, the esclating power of images has meant that previouslt excluded groups now seek to create “imagined” status for themselves through construction of styles which mark out their own territory, immune to the taunts from their supposed betters.”

S O C I A L   P O W E R

“Dress can be used as an indicator of group identity, including all those who adhere to particular tenets of taste and style, but this necessarily excludes anyone who does not adopt the groups dress codes. This can apply at street level, where sub cultural groups create visual identities that reflect their ideals in opposition to those in both the mainstream and other contemporary subcultures. It can also be seen at high fashion level where, for example, wearing couture brings with it connotations of elitism and wealth that exclude those unable to afford such luxuries.”

S Y M B O L S  O F  P O W E R

 “This healthy cocktail confers a strong sense of sexual power on the fur coat. In both pro- and anti-fur advertising, the notion of women is invariably conflated with that of wild animal. While this may undermine the moral stance taken in the images created by the anti-fur organizations. it adds to the appeal of real fur for many women (and, significantly, many men), created an aura of unbridled sensuality, the fantasy of power tinged with the cruelity of the kill. Andree Collard wrote in Rape of the Wild, that the fur industry is eager to connect hunting, fur animals and women, arguing that women are ultimately made submissive in this role; “In reality, she is the prey being bought down. She and the fur animal – one alive and the other dead — are one and the same. Even when man does not actually hunt animals, his success is still reflected in the kill.”

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