Is Fashion Modern?

Throughout attendance to MoMa’s Is Fashion Modern? exhibit I felt inclined to consider the relationship between the work of Pierre Cardin to the intention of the undertaking. The exhibit housed two ensembles from Pierre Cardin’s Autumn/Winter 1967 collection Cosmos. As stated in the press release for the exhibition, Is Fashion Modern? sought to consider that, “Like other forms of design, fashion exists within a complex system that involves politics and economics as much as it involves style, technology, and culture. The exhibition examines this complex system using each item as a lens”. The work of Pierre Cardin then perfectly walks the complex line between politics and economics as we know it. His designs within Cosmos were practical woolen jersey uniforms of sorts which were intentioned to be interchangeable and suitable for a futuristic time. His silhouettes and space age sensibility coincided with the space race and societies cultural fascination with modernity and the future. He subverted traditional silhouettes to help redefine modernity and challenged society creating a strong impression of practical distinctive yet futuristic Space Age fashion. Therefore politically and culturally throughout the 60’s in a time of great upheaval Cardin challenged our idea of fashion as an entity to only dress life in the present moment, it considered a larger sensibility that was driven by current events. Within Fashion and Cultural Studies, Susan B. Kaiser describes the phenomenon of subverting cultural frames of mind as, “Cultural anxiety” (pg. 44). This is relevant to Cardin’s work as, “philosopher/writer Walter Benjamin said that ‘for philosophers the most interesting thing about fashion is its extraordinary anticipations…it precedes the perceptible reality by years.’”(pg44). Therefore Cardin’s work from the Cosmos collection aligns strongly with the cultural and political considerations of the exhibit as it challenged society at the time to redefine modernity in silhouette and intention.

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