Production II

The production of couture adopted the idea of the independent, subjective artist and developed this stance despite the growing commercial pressure and industrialization of the industry's progress toward ready-to-wear. In the fashion industry there exists a pronounced dialectic that is expressed in the need for stylistic, some would say artistic, innovation that cannot be catered for by the manufacturing process that had given rise to couture as the basis for the fashion market established in the early twenty-first century. Designers perceive themselves as removed from the production process in auxiliary industries like weaving in a way that is similar to the painter who professes to be removed from the maker of the canvas or paper. Thus, from the birth of haute couture onward, fashion has had to accommodate the problem of relying on a design process that contradicts its procedural basis. This is the reason for the oscillating parameters of art and fashion and for the curious hovering of the latter around the former. The dialectic of fashion found in an individualized creation that exists within mass manufacture (which establishes its social coinage in the first place) was recognized willingly by the art market itself. The dialectic does not necessarily show itself in creation, although there has been, at least since Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol, a profusion of objects that covet a "designed" look and that are alienated from the artists through their handing over of the actual production to others (such as craftsmen, designers, studio assistants), but it is evidenced in representation, promotion, and consumption, in which fashion's principle is increasingly approximated by art in its advertising, gallery openings, growth of multiples, or museum shops, and in the fact that more and more foundations for contemporary art, as well as for music, architecture, and so forth, are now run by fashion companies, who thus embrace the cultural credibility that rests on the consumption of "high" art.

Within the realm of fashion it is at times difficult to separate neatly the production process from reception and consumption because the interrelation of the three segments constitutes its methodological core. Fashion is largely conceived through trend prediction and marketing analyses that attempt to anticipate as correctly as possible its manner and level of consumption. Correspondingly, fashion coverage, even outside identifiable promotional vehicles, reflects directly the interests of the designer or manufacturer. This, of course, appears as very different from artistic creation that might be influenced by demands from gallerists or commissions—increasingly so in late modernism—but still asserts subjectivism to guarantee itself creative autonomy and institutional independence.

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