Monday, September 28, 2009

Protective Forms

Rasmus Motensen, 2007

“Clothes are not for triumph but defense, hast thou always worn them perforce and as a consequence of Man’s fall…?” Thomas Carlyle

The essential basis for the form of clothing is the human body. Clothing covers the body and takes shape in human scale. In “Protection,” John Flugel describes clothing as protection against physical danger. The idea of wearing clothing for protection is more directly related to the need in cold climates, evident in the use of fur. Most people however wear more clothes each day than they actually need for protection . We have also sought clothing for protection from enemies such as armor. There are also examples of clothing which is intended to protect from sporting accidents or animal threat.


Dolce & Gabbana S 2007 and Hussein Chalayan, S 2000


Hermès, 2008

From protection to ornament

Michael Kors F 2009 and Chanel Haute Couture SS 2009

Fugel also describes clothing as protection against imaginary dangers such as magic or spirits. The author speculates that some of the first clothing may have been ornamental items to protect from negative psychological threats. He suggests that clothing began as a utilitarian thing but like art it gradually was transformed into decorative. The idea of clothing with psychological power – such as luck or supernatural blessing – is still practiced by some.

Symbolic Protection

William Richard Rumbold by George Romney and Balmain S 2009

We widely associate certain aspects of clothing with certain personalities. Soft collars are for soft people while firm collars are for firm business men. Black is associated with evil and white with innocence while color coordinates to emotional expression. Covering the body is modest. Thick and stiff clothing suggests protection and uprightness. Tightness varies by how much it reveals of the body.

Clothing also provides a comfort, putting personal things closet to the body. We are inclined to cover ourselves with unnecessary outerwear when we are not comfortable or feel our clothing is not like those around us. The author also suggests that our love needs may also be expressed by how much clothing we wear or our feelings of hot or cold. Clothes are womb like in their complete coverage. Clothes are also more commonly associated with the formation of the concept of mother and woman.

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