Dress Code – Are You Playing Fashion?
Art and Exhibition Hall Bonn, DE
21.05. – 12.09.2021
The term ‘dress code’ refers to the rules and guidelines on how one should dress, both privately or as a member of certain social, professional, or ethnic groups. These are usually not written ‘laws’, but rather norms that are tacitly assumed and based on a social consensus and can vary according to national affiliation, religion, age or gender. Dress codes can emerge ‘on the street’: Unspoken codes that society produces and that can also be found in so-called subcultures. For example, the punk movement – which emerged in the 1970s – also developed its own dress code as an expression of political protest and conscious opposition to the social upper class.
The exhibition playfully scrutinises the way we deal with dress codes and traditional encodings. It uses different questions to illuminate international fashion as a mirror of both society and the individual. Topics such as authenticity, and brand fetishism are systematised and visualised with exhibits. Whether designer dress or jeans, suit or sweatpants, knitted jumper or uniform – every culture, society, or group has its own dress codes. The exhibition thus negotiates fashion between two poles – the individualist and the conformist. And it brings fashion by style-shaping designers such as Armani, Burberry, Chanel, Comme des Garçons, Martin Margiela, Issey Miyake, Vetements or Vivienne Westwood with contemporary art by Keizo Motoda, Tom Sachs, Cindy Sherman, Oliver Sieber, Juergen Teller or Kyoichi Tsuzuki into a dialogue.
Dressing or ‘dressing up’ is an important motor in the self-discovery process of one’s own identity, and for personality formation, transformation is a creative act. Fashion turns out to be a suitable vehicle of individualisation tendencies – this is also a central statement of the exhibition. In the scramble that takes place in the social media, the name of the game is the permanent striving for one’s own style, which, however, hardly differs in the cultural and global context.
Fashion is not only an act of wearing clothes – it is also an act of seeing and being seen, which today is shared with preference via social networks. In the discussion of occasion and effect, representative requirements or personal preferences, social communication via fashion functions on a visual and non-verbal level. Consciously or unconsciously, every individual deals with clothes on a daily basis, and by slipping into changing roles – be it the anonymous business outfit, the casual leisure look, or the elitist Chanel coat and skirt – their clichés are automatically transferred: You are what you wear! Playing with fashion leads to a mix of styles or a formal redefinition of, for example, a status symbol, which is gladly replaced by self-confident understatement – even in official contexts. The shifting of elements between ‘high and low’ or the breaking of rules has long been common practice in haute couture as well. If punk was perhaps the last great fashion shock wave to sweep through Europe, nowadays at most genderfluid themes can attract widespread attention. Currently, the upcycling of second-hand goods is very much en vogue, with which an individual differentiation from the mainstream is flaunted. The common codes are thus subject to constant shifts in the canon of values.
More information: https://www.bundeskunsthalle.de/en/exhibitions/current-exhibitions.html
Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany
Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland GmbH
53113 Bonn, DE