FASHION ACCORDING TO PHILOSOPHY, FROM SHOPenauer TO SCHOPENHAUER
On May 5th the Wait! Portal SHOPenauer launched the #whatisfashion? campaign. Ideally, the goal is to investigate the meaning that fashion has for each of us. And to learn about different points of view, SHOP invites users to send short videos in which they declare what fashion is for them. And in the past? How was this complex system viewed by great thinkers? Certainly in the eighteenth century, but also before and, subsequently, during Romanticism and the arrival of Psychoanalysis, there were no real designers-icons, rather the tailors were known; Chiara Ferragni was not even conceivable. The polyester, fortunately, had not yet invaded and supplanted the existence of natural fabrics. Today everything is different.
Schopenhauer (1788- 1860) is the philosopher who inspired the SHOPenauer project, but he is also an excellent character to mention when we wants to understand what fashion is, preferably defined as costume, especially in the years in which the German thought and lived. In fact, although he is known for his pessimism – a characteristic appreciated by Nietzsche, who will then draw some inspiration from it – the author of works such as Il primato della volontà (Adelphi) and L’arte di invecchiare (Adelphi), uses his genius to deal with worldliness and the individual himself.
It is written that Schopenhauer was not really inclined to be a positive person. The veil of Maya expresses the whole concept. However, in L’arte di essere felici (Adelphi) he writes: «… the main truth of eudemonology (ie the doctrine of happiness) remains that everything depends much less on what one has, or on what one represents, than on what one is. “Personality is the highest happiness”. On each occasion one can truly enjoy oneself only: if one’s self is not worth much, then all pleasures are like excellent wines in a mouth tinged with bile. The great enemies of happiness are pain, boredom, loneliness. Personality accompanies man everywhere and at all times; its value is absolute.» To know oneself, to be aware of who one is in the world.
What does it have to do with contemporary fashion? Well, to begin with it is a value comparable to that of consumerism, the need to have all the same things. In the latter case the personality, what makes us unique, fails. In another work, Metafisica dell’amore sessuale (Bur), the Gdansk philosopher writes: «We lose three quarters of ourselves to be like other people.»
FASHION COMES ALSO FROM STYLE
Schopenhauer has never directly mentioned fashion. However in his writings the author found a total disgust with regard to the unkempt people. «As the negligence in clothing reveals contempt for the society in which one goes, so the hasty, neglected, bad style reveals an offensive contempt for the reader, who then repays him rightly by not reading.» The sentence is within the work Sul mestiere dello scrittore e sullo stile, published in 1851 (Adelphi). The invitation to elegance is understood.
Of course, it was easy at the time. The bourgeois and the aristocrats had their clothes made to measure. Today things are distinctly different and styles, as we know, are different: from streetstyle to fashion addicts, in the middle there is a world of style and glamor lessons but also of many – very many – fails. So, #whatisfashion? for one of the greatest intellectuals of all time? Style, impossible without personality.
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