Fashion, in its ample spectrum of meaning, is interlinked with photography as the two sides of a page. Gilles Lipovetsky, a French scholar whose 1987 work on fashion was first translated into English in 1994, takes the broadest perspective on the contemporary implications of fashion. In his view ―rejecting Foucaultian arguments―, fashion promotes modernity, defined primarily as freedom from tradition, and valuing individual autonomy. He contends that fashion seduces through “the multiplication of prototypes, and the possibility of personal choice”.
Thus, if we accept his standpoint, the multiplication of prototypes needs, as a result, a proportional multiplication of images. So, photography, since its invention, comes to serve the purpose of fashion to circulate itself and to exert seduction through both the expanding mass media and the elite fashion and clothing magazines oriented to small minorities.
Besides, in the same line of reasoning, he disputes Jean Baudrillard´s notion of consuming only for performance in a system of exchange. On the contrary, he asserts that if fashion is “a stage for the appreciation of the spectacle provided by others, it has also unleashed an investment of self”.
Therefore, fashion and photography go hand in glove with the pleasure of seeing, but also with the pleasure of been seen, of exhibiting oneself to “the gaze of others”. In this way, Lipovesky profoundly affirms the idea that fashion, by allowing complex blends of refusal and acceptance, is a escape from reductionist models of women as fashion victims and irrational consumers.
Even though in the first, aristocratic phase of fashion, both sexes changed apparel, especially accessories, the emergence of fashion is associated with the accentuation of differences in dress between the sexes, since the fourteenth century.
Therefore, as Joyce de Vries says in a recent article “the quip about the importance of costume in determining identity seems even more pertinent now than during Shakespeare’s era”. Men and women have long constructed their identity and projected their status through their attire. And in this respect, he underscores that “the significance of today’s fashion is easy to comprehend: it is a multi-billion dollar global industry”. And quality photographs, with their love for details, have a crucial relevance behind this huge phenomenon.