Fashioning Value – Undressing Ornament

By looking at fashion through the paradigmatic changes of ornament this essay offers insights into today’s design realm and future scenarios. Focusing on contemporary fashion as a system of value production it reflects on the position of fashion within today’s experience economy, and its effect on products, makers and users.

Alongside the traditional literal form of ornament a contemporary form has emerged, which shares the characteristics ascribed to the literal ornament but has an even more pervasive effect on makers, users and products.This contemporary ornament, which takes the shape of commercially constructed values and relates to branding, storytelling and the experience economy, plays a key role in the understanding of fashion today. Interwoven with design practices this value-ornament has gained a dominant position in today’s consumer society.
By considering the evolution of ornament and its layered character, and by examining relevant reflections from various sources and contexts ranging from Adolf Loos to Michel de Certeau, this text describes the impact of the contemporary value-ornament on today’s makers and users, revealing potential for future alternatives.

Download the excerpt ‘Clothes Are Souvenirs’ here.
(Published in Posture Magazine and 4, a magazine by the textile and fashion department, Royal Academy of Art The Hague)

First print: 2015, reprint: 2018.
Author and editor: Femke de Vries
Editing: Ruby Hoette and Hanka van der Voet
Translation: Nanne op ‘t Ende
Graphic design: Hans Gremmen (reprint)
Published by: Onomatopee project- space

Thank you: Ada Bosman, Agnes Scholte, Bas van den Hurk, Chet Bugter, Conny Groenewegen, Daniela Dossi, Elisa van Joolen, Eva van der Schans, Freek Lomme, gerlach en koop, Hanka van der Voet, Hans Gremmen, Joke Robaard, José Teunissen, Maaike Feitsma, Maaike Lauwaert, Marinus Augustijn, Nanne op ‘t Ende, Remco Torenbosch, Ruby Hoette, Sarah Sixma, Sue – an van der Zijpp.

This research has been supported by of the LeoXIII gastatelier, Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie and Kunstraad Groningen.