From Fashion to Masuerade

“From Fashion to masquerade”:

In this chapter of “Body Dressing” it is expressed how with the display of clothing obsessions, the discourse of degeneration replaced the discourse of gender (insanity as a women’s trait and perversion as a males trait).  Modern societies obsession with order turned difference into a problem. It is assumed that those who identify as different from the norm pose a threat by showing their inner self (enemy within). Fashion manifests as an illusion of embodiment, which can define social status, sexuality, gender, and achievements. Refusing to engage in the beliefs of fashion can also be a way to avoid gender issues as well as a refusal of a dual structure, which gives distinction between substance and appearance. The masquerade as said in this chapter is “based on the idea that feminity is a disguise assumed by woman to disarm the male fear of her power”. Masks also have a metaphorical aspect by being symbolic to different beliefs, ideas, protesting’s, desires and social practices. As said in the article “History of Mask Making” Masks in traditional societies are not thought of as art objects. They are functioning sacred objects imbued with tremendous power. Like fashion, masks can be used for identity construction and critique. It is also expressed that fashion can play a role in the belief of a collective effort of a mobilized (ready for war) society, with the example of Israeli civil uniforms being a carefully considered motivation to fashion presenting a new social and national identity to the Israeli at the foundation of Israel for Jews. Masquerade is also a form of sexual discourse as a clothing costume formed in France. An example is transgender dressing and costumes that are formed for arousal. By departing from male fantasies women then began to create an ambiguous cultural style as a way of being discreet in showing another sense of beauty. this is also seen as a lesbian camouflage, as a way of directing a statement to their sexuality. Masking is also applied in media representations (films)  to unstable view of gender codes and categories , but the possibility of investigating or establishing the truth (for example in “Mulan” & “White chicks” “Yentle”.  Historically masks were used as symbols of freedom by women while not trying to escape the threat of their reputation as morally excellent women playing their part in society at balls or operas. This is also similar to the half masks worn by women in England as a device showing freedom from bondage in society. The mask gave women the opportunity for women to engage in activities or motives that were denied to them. This chapter overall was guided to express how fashion and subjectivity should be theorized without identifying fashion with femininity.

Example of Masquerade Mask

Early Women suit by Coco Chanel representing Women deviation from male fantasies

An example of masking being represented in the media (transgender)


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