"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." Coco Chanel
In the T-straps of Eleanor Roosevelt I believe that "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." In Edwardian ankle books I remember the fight for women's suffrage. In leather Oxfords I remember the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that civil rights are the birthright of every citizen of the United States.
I call them the human arts: fashion and domestic architecture. Fashion may be superfluous, but it does not follow that the fashionistas of the world are superfluous. There is a dialog between the ideas and the fashions of a time.
I once wrote a somewhat facetious paper on the parallel history of Renaissance soles and souls. As a student of history and of ideas, I see clothes as linked to the ideas of their wearers. Fashion has long been used to signify membership in a group, to separate tribe from tribe, to separate the patrician from the plebeian. Fabrics tell us about native crops and cloth production methods. They tell us the history of labor--homespun or factory produced. The proliferation of dyes tells the story of colonization. And tailoring choices tell us about a culture's sense of modesty.
Fashion is a language we use to dialog with ourselves, with those around us, and with the past.