American University
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Killer Couture

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posted on 2023-08-03, 12:18 authored by Sarah Caffey

For the past several years I have spent most evenings in a similar pattern. I come home, change into pajamas, make a cup of tea, and idly read about one of two things: women’s issues, or women’s fashion. It has been impossible to avoid noticing the potentially contradictory nature of these interests, a conflict that plagues me with an uneasy guilt when I fantasize about purchasing a dress that was mass-produced in India or attempt to enjoy a fashion show that presents an unending stream of extremely thin, extremely white, extremely underage and extremely underpaid models. That fashion utilizes oppressive systems and produces oppressive messages is hardly a secret, but despite this, and despite my interest in social justice, I am not someone who hates fashion. I am not capable of being someone who wishes to dismantle the fashion system. I am too passionate about fashion both as an art form and a means for personal expression, and I am constantly forced to ask myself whether there is any ethical way to indulge this passion. Is it possible for me to joyfully participate in the fashion system and perhaps one day even work in the fashion industry without sacrificing my feminist and humanist principles? Killer Couture arose as an attempt to engage academically and artistically with the aspect of the fashion system that I personally find most troubling: fashion’s relationship with the body.



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