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
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.
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.
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
["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.
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<
the quotes are by Karl Lagerfeld
from an interview in Bon magazine Nov2004.
> click to enlarge