I chose to feature here a special part of the interview, where Mr. Celant talks about the importance of fashion in history, as I believe the big public i.e. not related to the fashion industry community, would really benefit from this information - about the deeper roots of fashion in regards to political, social and economical events through out history.
You can read the whole interview HERE.
What is the role of history and art history in your conception of fashion?
It is a problem in fashion history, which is, today, still seen as something a bit superficial. Fashion has do with creating images, images to look at, images to abide to, and that played a major role in constructing a political awareness. It would also be a linguistic history of reality. Umberto Eco started it ages ago, but this history could play a major role in understanding art. Until, say, the French Revolution, art was fundamentally a representation of the divine. But inside of that representation there was a sense of reality. From the very moment that you represent a body, which can be naked, or idealised, it has to do with fashion: the fact that, at a certain moment in history, men were bearded or weren’t, is in itself a sign of fashion.
Would you describe fashion as a language and a discourse, as Barthes did?
In the 1960s, with semiology, we learned the logic of analysing signs. All signs became of equal importance. Someone like Warhol used every language in a very democratic way: he opened the way to a democratisation of language, in the way we look at advertising, at self-portraits, at painting... He used everything as a way to communicate. It was a great moment of democratisation, and also, of trivialisation, which is very much part of the concept of "pop". We have to deal with this democratisation of languages, which is not gone yet. The idea that something happened in every form of language, including fashion, is still an operation that is quite difficult to put together, and which remains very necessary.
"Fashion doesn’t consist of style anymore, but in the ability to jump stylistically from one style to another."
What does fashion have to do with intellectuality?
A lot. Fundamentally, fashion is a language and a utility. And since there is no distinction between “pure” and “impure” anymore, there can be a constructive dialogue between the different languages: with art and architecture. If they don’t, they lose track with reality, which is so diverse. And the other thing is that fashion has a global audience, like cinema. Maybe it’s the reasons why intellectuals are afraid of fashion. Fashion, too, sometimes, is scared of becoming theoretical. But when they get together, they build a remarkable force.
"Venere degli Stracci" by Michelangelo Pistoletto