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[Symbiotic labeling] - Karl Lagerfeld for H&M.

There is something in fashion garments that shines in our eyes when we look at a new garment or especially when we see it worn by someone we think looks beautiful. We can still feel it when we touch the garment in the glossy store, and even as far as when it (strangely enough) fits us well in the dressing room. But somehow it just slips from within our reach after a week or so, and after some months somehow the garment looks dead there in the wardrobe, as if it nourished from the light of the flashing cameras and glossy paper in the magazine, and now has decomposed in the darkness of the wardrobe. When we encounter old clothes in museums they are as dead as any corpse and maybe just as tragic. This old skin of identity is not only a loss of someone's status but also the loss of the dreams and possibilities that once where woven into this fabric in front of us.
This feeling is something real - it is a mystical transformation that concerns us all, and we all come across daily as we drift with the winds in the system of fashion.
And we can feel the system surround us. We can see it everywhere. Even without reading the magazines or consuming the commercials we constantly see it's effect on the people surrounding us. We always happen to see the "beautiful people" in the latest outfits, and seeing ourselves in the mirror becomes even more tragic for every time.
As the famous fashion genius Karl Lagerfeld made a collection for H&M the "high" and the "low" met and the sugar-coated and sexy dreams of the catwalk was suddenly made possible for everyone.
At the 12th of November 2004 the H&M stores were chaotic as the collection was raided by hungry fashionistas. This date is historical in very specific sense - by making the "high" affordable for all there is no longer any excuse for us not to be as sexy as the "beautiful people". We are to blame for our lousy appearance. We are to blame for our social misfortunes. We are to blame for not being one of them.
As a comment to this historic change an action took place at an H&M store. Labels were added to garments from the Karl Lagerfeld collection, acting as symbiotic labels commenting the new role of these garments in the fashion system and the effect on the future wearers.
Labeling the simulation: Floating on the surface of the technical (physical) garment is a thin layer of ever changing simulation. A surface full of non-verbal signs and an ephemeral coating of semi translucent gloss that communicates to the mythical fashion system that binds us to the social world. This surface is constantly cleaned and kept shining by the flux and changes in the fashion system, thus wiping out every trace of unwanted history and reminiscent prejudices from last season.

["I want things to change […] in fact I detest the past"]

In a system of constant becoming this surface is the most real in the garment, and thus the technical garment, the fabric and actual quality, is the last thing we buy in the moment of transaction. By saying I am not the same we also skip a troublesome question about where we actually come from - and who we are to make these judgments about the world and our fellow citizens.

["I am never happy about myself."]

The system is constantly moving ahead of us and thus put us in a situation where we are about to lose our own image, since it is on the way of being "un-modern". So in this system we are consuming objects which show our path and heading - about who we want to be, never who we really are. Solidified image is doomed to be "out" soon, so we better keep up the pace of change.

["I have survived so many […] and float in a dimension where no time exist"]
Public service: Creating symbiotic labels that acts as parallel comments to Lagerfeld's collection to "the masses" at H&M, and thus acts as mirror from theory attached to artifacts in a system of mass-consumption creates public service in a true meaning.
Hidden messages: the labels acts as old notes left in library books or fortune cookies, as small found messages that acts as comments to our relationship with the artifact and also life in general. The moment of finding the message is the key for this kind of communication, added as another layer of meaning - or maybe more as a deciphering of this layer which lies over the surface of these specific clothes. Lagerfeld's ideology is a layer over the garment which we consume and use in our communication - though most of it we don't actually read or understand - it is like another radiant gloss over the surface of the garment. Now it has a small text, putting words on some of the features that we actually consume.
Comments to the machines: The labels are not sewn into the garments but attached to the washing instructions commenting the wearer's relation to the simulation and the fashion machine (as Barthes was calling the fashion magazine a machine that creates fashion) - just as the washing instruction is informing about the relation between the wearer, the technical garment and the washing machine.

["I rinse myself from everything so I can stay perfectly clean, like a white sheet of paper"]

These new washing instructions are re-readings of the mythical instruction for how to treat the garment in the social world. And hopefully makes us think again about our relation to the fashion system.
Dream sizes: Karl Lagerfeld broke with H&M just shortly after the release of the collection since the company had made the garments in what H&M usually had seen as "normal" sizes. Lagerfeld does not make garments for big people but only for the ones thin enough for residing within the concept of beauty. So the collection for "all" was not created for all - but for the ones ready to act and live under discipline to be within the borders the "beautiful".

["I am a person that loves shopping clothes. And I am not happy in anything except Dior."]
 
the Symbiotic Labeling action took part at H&M in Malmo, Sweden in November 2004 and is a part of the >self_passage< project.
the quotes are by Karl Lagerfeld from an interview in Bon magazine Nov2004.

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