On a day-to-day basis we all take in a vast expanse of often tedious, mythical fashion ads. Blitzing through glossy spreads or passing by stupendously large billboards, we have swift encounters with the fashion industry much like those during a speed-dating session. Each encounter is a chance for us to fall madly in love and go to absurd lengths to acquire what our hearts desire. All things considered, the imagery perpetuated by the fashion industry holds an ineffable power over our hearts and minds.
So, what happens when you dissect the power residing in fashion imagery? And how does the language we use to describe such imagery or the depictions of fashion itself help imagine fashion? These questions guided photographer Anneke Hymmen and art director Kui Hiroi’s investigation into the mediated landscape of the fashion industry. Of which the results can be gazed at in contemplation during the exhibition Remodeling, on view at the Melkweg in Amsterdam until the 14th of May.
The careful display of their exploratory work addresses themes of fashion and imagination, and how words and image add to the value we attach to fashion. Fashion engages for much part in myth-making, where fashion does not merely involve the physical object but also the sensation—smell, touch, image—and description of its materiality. In fact, it was through the aid of words and images that clothes transitioned into fashion as phenomenon.
Still to this day, fashion editors around the world operate as modern-day poets, using the art of describing fashion to paint ambient and amicable pictures in their readers’ mind. By use of a rich fashion vocabulary they adorn fashion images with value. Take this away and tailor the imagery to consumer’s own descriptive contemplations of it; you’re left with a worldly different depiction of fashion than the one pushed on by some major fashion houses.
For Remodeling, the creative pair asked a set amount of volunteers to describe fashion ads using their own vocabulary and frameworks of reference. Key phrases and words were then taken from these descriptions and re-appropriated to construct new images. The result is telltale signs of how commercial ties and set beauty ideals can be potent in creating fashion imagery. The new arrangements of images, narrated by a number of Dutch authors, are compiled into a book—becoming almost a perfect double feature, in which you’ll have the opportunity to look into the world of fashion. A world that you’re familiar with but may not yet have paid proper attention to.