1st Global Conference
Friday 25th September – Sunday 27th September 2009
Mansfield College, Oxford
in association with Models 1: Europe’s Leading Model Agency
Gastronomic Fashions, Luxury Concepts, Consumption Practices and the Construction of Identity
This contribution studies the new gastronomic fashions and how through innovation of luxury concepts and consumption practices, mentalities change and new identities are built by means of food.
Gastronomy is seldom analysed within the complex of fashion, luxury, consumption and identity. The Luxury concept changes with time, age, social class and contains notions of excellence, exclusiveness and identity construction. Its changes are important in this context because gastronomy and high quality alimentary products are considered to be the “nouvelle industry du luxe” (A. Duchasse). Consumption practices are observed here because of the close metaphor between eating and consuming and of the tight ties between food and identity formation, suggesting that identities are also built and altered by means of food.
Gastronomy, a fundamental element to define one’s historical identity, has been transformed by new ways of eating, new ideas on luxury food and new gastronomic fashions. A new cooking aligned to modern taste developed, with simple preparations, seasonal products and creative techniques. Gastronomic tourism grew with the restaurant guides, the “starisation” of the chefs and the request for new eating experiences. Luxury food (truffle, oysters) is not necessarily synonymous with excellence. Other qualities, like freshness or skills in cooking, are crucial for the new fashion, whose necessary requisites are changes in mentality and a renewal of taste, focused on the excellence of the food. The Italian Slow Food Movement promotes a “democratic” excellence of food, the protection of the world’s eno-gastronomic patrimony and the preservation of local cooking. This regional cuisine is used by urban modernity as an invented myth of traditional cooking to re-invent a cultural identity. The consumption of “foreign” food as well, re-discovered as luxury food for a cosmopolitan elite and new gastronomic fashion produces a global food consumer and constructs a new transnational identity. The consumption of food is thus a way to imagine culture and to assert an idea about luxury, which brings about the evolution of mentalities.
Defining the Fashion City: Fashion Capital or Style Centre?
Nathaniel Dafydd Beard
Creative Practitioner and Writer, London, UK
Paris, London, Milan, New York and Tokyo: this is the familiar roll-call of grand fashion capitals as we know them today. Each has striven to attain, and indeed maintain, its place in the hierarchy of style. Yet what is a fashion capital? What makes a city a fashion city? The city is a site for both the production and the display of fashion, from shops and factories, through to bars and the street. Although many authors have described fashion cities, including Benjamin (2002), Breward and Gilbert (2006), O’Neill (2007) and Steele (2006), an exact definition of the fashion city has proved elusive.
Towards forming a definition of the fashion city, this paper will address how the culture of fashion is used in the promotion of the economic and cultural vitality of a city. Fashion today is packaged and sold as a commodity, not only as a physical object, like a dress or a coat, but also as a cultural commodity used to promote a community, a city or a nation. This may take shape in the form of Fashion Weeks or advertising campaigns. Yet, what does this cultural commoditisation mean to the citizens and visitors to the city? What sense of identification or belonging does it engender?
In a globalised world, a sense of the local remains as pertinent as ever. In the 1980s a new kind of fashion city, the style centre, emerged to challenge the impersonality of the fashion capital. Antwerp and Copenhagen, for example, demonstrate how smaller, nimbler cities, can become style leaders in their own right. Could these cities usurp the fashion capital status of Paris? Outlining how the style centre has come to gain influence, this paper will conclude with an insight into possible future developments for the changing hierarchical scope of the fashion city.