Fashion And Society


Sir, - Congratulations for publishing Colin McDowell's excellent and thought-provoking article on the current (rotten) state of designer fashion (Well & Good, September 22nd).

McDowell's opinion, that the rampant commercialisation of fashion in recent years has resulted in a shift in emphasis away from originality, creativity and a sense of fashion as an art form towards a desire to shock and exploit has long needed highlighting. The response of Robert O'Byrne, the Irish Times fashion correspondent, that current provocative trends among fashion designers are no different from those in other contemporary art forms, for example cinema and literature, hardly represents a defence. It just raises further questions.

More significantly, Mr O'Byrne defends the fashion industry on the grounds that it is merely reflecting the more unpleasant aspects of modern society - in other words that it is "a mirror of the age in which it exists". It appears to me that this view is dangerously irresponsible. Surely we should question what elements within modern society the (predominantly male) fashion designers, stylists and journalists are seeking to represent when they are deliberately exploitative of women and if it is right that they should be allowed to do so unchallenged.

Designer fashion, with its powerful images, has a significant influence not only on what we wear but also on what we think. Therefore it's important that we reflect both on what and whose vision of contemporary culture the fashion industry is seeking to represent. Robert O'Byrne's article failed to address these issues. - Yours, etc., Joanna O'Riordan,


Co Dublin.