Fashion at the Edge

Spectacle, Modernity, and Deathliness

Caroline Evans

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What do images of illness, vampirism, wounds, and addiction say about contemporary fashion? An unexpected discussion of fashion and its relation to deep cultural anxieties

Recent experimental fashion has a dark side, a preoccupation with representations of death, trauma, alienation, and decay. This intriguing book looks closely at this strand of fashion design in the 1990s, exploring what its disturbing themes tell us about consumer culture and contemporary anxieties. Caroline Evans analyzes the work of experimental designers, the images of fashion photographers, and the spectacular fashion shows that developed in the final decade of the twentieth century to arrive at a new understanding of fashion’s dark side and what it signifies. Fashion at the Edge considersa range of cutting-edge contemporary fashion in unprecedented depth and detail, including the work of such current designers as John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, and Viktor & Rolf. Contrasting images by photographers like Steven Meisel, Nick Knight, and Juergen Teller are also reviewed. Drawing on diverse perspectives from Marx to Walter Benjamin, Evans shows that fashion stands at the very center of the contemporary, and that it voices some of Western culture’s deepest concerns.

Caroline Evans is reader in fashion studies, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London. She also serves on the editorial board of Fashion Theory.

“Evans grapples with extremely interesting issues, such as why fashion imagery has become so dark and decadent. Her choice of contemporary fashion imagery—and her juxtaposition of these images with similar themes in art—is brilliant.”—Valerie Steele, Director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

“A compelling line of reasoning here, not to mention some incredibly knockout pictures to ensure the best of both worlds.”—Susan Corrigan, I-D Magazine

“Sensational viewing. Well worth the space on your bookshelf.”—Gemma Hayward, Independent Magazine (UK)

“An astonishing analysis of the new designers who produced clothing, runway shows and promotional photography that reflected the psychic and physical trauma, emotional and social disconnection, and generally less happy side of the materially self-satisfied dot-com years. This is fashion by designers who knew about Situationism and the Frankfurt School.”—Jerry Cullum, Artpapers

“If you like your fashion weird, wild and, ultimately, wonderful, then Fashion on the Edge is a must-have addition to your library. Prepared with photos of fashion at its most extreme, this book by Caroline Evans puts into context some of those things that, over the years, have made even the most devout fashionphiles scratch their head in wonder.”—Pamela Klaffke, Calgary Herald

Fashion at the Edge conforms to very high production standards and the selection of plates makes up a valuable record and distillation of an end of the century movement that will always be recalled as having had a genuinely distinctive character.”—Robert Radford, The Art Book

“Caroline Evans has raised the bar for fashion theorists worldwide.”—Alice Cicolini, Biblio

"...an intriguing look at the industry's darker side.  In the context of apocalypse, trauma and death, it shows fashion attempting to voice our deepest cultural concerns."  - Lucy Davies, Daily Telegraph

"Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity and Deathliness (Yale) published in 2003, an instant classic of modern criticism, commentary and elucidation which anyone interested in the wellsprings of fashion creativity in the past dozen years or so should possess and read.”—Colin McDowell, The Business of Fashion

ISBN: 9780300124675
Publication Date: December 13, 2007
334 pages, 9 x 11
100 b/w + 100 color illus.
ADDITIONAL MATERIALS

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Modernism and the First Fashion Shows in France and America, 1900-1929

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