Monday, November 22, 2010

French Music & Fashion Media

by Vasilia Kouskoulas, Anjelica Zalin

Fashion Theory-Vogue

Agnes Rocamora in her research paper analyzes the readers’ letter section in Vogue because she considers it a good indication of the tone and views the magazine holds and portrays the kind of readers it has or wants to have. Agnes believes that Vogue wants to display fashion as a high art form and itself as a serious magazine, also of “high culture.” It does that in various way but mainly by intermingling classical forms of high art and culture like literature, science, paintings, poems, theatre etc. with fashion in its articles and in readers’ letters to inter-legitimize it and give it the status of “high art.”

The magazine has a sort of “Frenchness” and represents the “ Femme Parisienne,” also conveying “elegance, sensuality, glamour, luxury and esprit (spirit, mind). Vogue does that by filtering, editing or even constructing and publishing readers’ letters that portray these elements and present an eclectic and cultured readership. In many of the letters the readers also use the term “you” referring to the magazine and the term “us” for the readers, creating intimacy through an imaginary personalized discussion in the public sphere. Vogue here is trying to emulate the 18th Century bourgeois written debates, where public opinion was formed, another high culture characteristic. The magazine also published letters with opposing views to allow public debate as done in higher democratic institutions. Through all this, Vogue presents its status as that of an “elitist” magazine of high fashion and culture that “creates dreams and class” and compares itself to Le Monde. It also tries to confine itself within the geographical space of Paris to give it authenticity and the tone of elegance and “high brow” attitude it wants to achieve using “here” when it refers to Paris. To conclude, for Rocamora, it is the readership that ultimately makes a magazine and conveys its position and this is why Vogue used readers’ letters to promote its goals and define itself.

La Derniere Mode

La Dernière Mode is one of the first women’s fashion magazines, pioneering the type of glossy magazine laden with editorial spreads we are used to seeing at nearly every news print kiosk in the world.

Its editor and also poet, Mallarmé , described by critics as “just a shade crazy” and as having a “penchant for the absurd” was created in 1874 with Mallarmé as the emerging editor, designer and author of the French magazine. He used a variety of pseudonyms for his work which were divided into sections for the theory of fashion, the fashion houses themselves, and gastronomy. He also had a passion for decorative art and was appointed a prominent position with an international gallery in London, explaining his designer component in the magazine. While Mallarmé was not the only theorist of fashion at this time, he was indeed one of the first and created a revolutionary kind of magazine. His vision for fashion and art allowed him to transcend his interests beyond just women’s clothes to explore with writing , theory, and rhetoric. This helped him to create a unique magazine with a specific layout including, reviews, menus, timetables, and things of the like in a decorative fashion. This magazine paved the way for top fashion magazines through its unique combination of fashion, art, literature, and theory.

Read Me- The Prominence of Techno

In Read Me by Nettime, Bunz discusses how techno gained prominence in modern Europe. Seen as a fad soon to pass, because of its use of the outdated 12 inch vinyl and its lack of “political or cultural relevance,” techno was neglected for over a decade. As a result it had to build its own infrastructure away from the music industry.

The music industry was an already complex “globally operative strategic network” and any independence of the artist in the field seemed illusory with record companies holding all the power. However, with techno already having its own infrastructure and the low cost of its production, independence became possible and this is why many people got involved in it, giving it popularity. The youth culture was now controlling the economic structures of the music industry making youth culture a cultural constitution rather than just a marketplace. As a result, originality is what became important in Europe and music was no longer the “medium” but rather the “center of attention.” In techno the author, the subject, the classical origin of the artwork, the different voices, samples etc. all become one and the composer/author or signer/s lose their significance and are replaced by the music itself which is the only thing that matters. However, today even techno is becoming commercialized trying to re-introduce the concept of the artist and to become more refined ending its reputation as a subculture.

Sensation White 2010

Edgar Varese - Father of Electronic Music

Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music:

The Secret World of Serge Gainsborg

French singer, songwriter, and filmmaker Serge Gainsbourg is one of the most well-known musical artists in French history, developing 30 albums and nearly 550 songs in his career. His talent for music was often offset by his colorful personal life, including his addiction to alcohol, his torrid love affairs with iconic French women, his affinity for the “common man”, and his unorthodox lifestyle. Born to Russian parents in 1928, who escaped Czarist Russia, he and his family also escaped Paris to live in Limoges until the end of WWII. Upon returning to Paris, Gainsbourg’s father played piano in clubs prompting his son to follow suit. Along with this influence, he has said his others include jazz, cabaret, and African beats. Gainsbourg’s daughter, French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg speaks with Vanity Fair about her father, and includes personal details of her childhood with him and her dream of transforming his eclectic Parisian apartment in the 7th arrondissment into a museum. Serge’s longtime lover and illustrious actress, Jane Birkin is also interviewed and shares memories of her late partner. She speaks of their decadent lifestyle, which consisted of alcohol fueled club nights, dramatic fights, and tales of jealousy amongst their famous colleagues.

However, despite his life being shrouded in scandal, he was incredibly well loved by his family, friends, colleagues, and large group of fans throughout the world. He was described as kind and relatable to blue collared people, a strict enforcer of manners for his children, romantic, talented, and enamored and surprised by his fame. His death in 1991 prompted mourning in Paris leading many to line the street of his apartment, much like the time of the death of John Lennon in New York years earlier. His funeral was a star-studded event with a who’s who of French entertainment in attendance. Charlottle Gainsbourg has tirelessly spent the last 16 years of her time devoted to preserving her father’s legacy by hoping to transform his home into a museum for all to see, enjoy, and remember.

Gainsbourg- Je t'aime song:

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