Smells like Teen Spirit – Cath Davies Session 1 “All the Young Dudes”

In this constellation session, We talked about the analysis of imagery and The importance of style conveying meaning. The meanings can change. In terms of sub culture and style, the connotations of an item of clothing can change in relation to what it is worn with. All objects have a cultural biography.

We looked at an image of Jean Paul Gautier’s Cone corset Garment he produced for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour and analysed it in terms of meanings, what could be trying to be conveyed and possible connotations.

madonna-corset-and-suit

We started by looking at the image and analysing the meaning of things within it:

Suit: Masculine, professional, formal, colour, black shows the formality, would be completely different if it was pink etc. Corset: Lingerie, underwear, Typically worn under clothes, feminine, modifies the body and emphasises the waist. Bra: Doesn’t look like traditional Bra/corset, looks like weaponry, breasts being shown as weapons, armour. Silver: makes the corset look like armour, sense of masculinity, shows strength, sense of battle, cold, protection, Spikes and a material that makes men not want to touch.

Gautier is trying to present a very different image of the corset, from a seductive item into an aggressive one. He is playing with gender expectations. Madonna adopts masculine qualities and feminine ones here, however the typical feminine stereotype is changed.

In terms of researching this image, I would look at Gender, there is a clear gender statement here and stereotypical items of men and women are included within it. I would look at female oppression and definitely research Jean Paul Gautier. Post feminism must be considered, women taking responsibility, showing they are not just objects. In relation to Madonna, she is highly post feminist and uses her sexuality to show this. Researching Madonna would be a valuable use of my time to find out about strength and power in women. It may be interesting to look at Gautier’s opinions and meanings of his own work.

In this session, we then considered how we could build an argument if we decided to write an essay or compose a case study to do with this image. The route to go down could be something to do with the suit, different connotations of the suit, how designers modify the image of the suit. Punks reworked suits, maybe many different types of suits could be compared. Same with the corset, we could look at how different designers have used the corset and maybe contrast that with how Madonna wears them. The importance of cultural biography within contemporary within contemporary design, Gautier broke rules, had to know about the traditional corset first before embarking on producing his own. Gender and stereotyping is a possibility, femininity in relation to masculinity.

This was a highly interesting lecture, and got me thinking about the hidden meanings behind imagery and how interesting deciphering those meanings is. I’m not sure what I am going to research but analysing imagery and feeding ideas from researching connotations within that is a great way to start.

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