Fashion / orientalism / the body (New Formations 1, Spring 1987)
Author: Peter Wollen
In the early decades of the twentieth century, decoration and ornamentation in fashion came to be seen as signs of decadence. A new modernist body emerged, functionally attired and desexualised; simultaneously, a ‚Äòless is more‚Äô approach was seen in the world of the visual arts. Then came Orientalism, popularised by Paul Poiret‚Äôs famous Arabian Nights-themed party and Diaghilev‚Äôs Russian Ballet production of Scheherazade. This Oriental approach lent itself to Freudian interpretations and had despotic and sado-masochistic undertones, although Poiret claimed that he was the ‚Äòslave‚Äô to those who wore his designs, not their¬†master.