From Adorned in dreams

02/11/2011 § Leave a comment

Anthropological discussion of dress tends to blur the distinctions between adornment, clothing and fashion, but it is interesting because when we look at fashion through anthropological spectacles we can see that it is closely related to magic and ritual. Many societies have used forms of adornment and dress to put the individual into a special relationship with the spirits or the seasons in the enactment of fertility or food-gathering rites, for war or celebration. The progression from ritual to religion, then to secular seriousness and finally to hedonism seems to have been common to theatre, music and dance — the performing arts — and dress, itself a kind of performance, would have seemed to follow this trajectory from sacred to secular. Fashion, too, contains the ghost of a faint, collective memory of the magical properties that adornment once had.

From Adorned in dreams by Elizabeth Wilson, p. 56 (2003 edn.)

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