This exercise asks you to compare an originary moment in western appropriations of oriental fashion motifs with their use in contemporary design. It is possible to base your answer on the materials supplied, but it would also be helpful to draw on your own knowledge of contemporary fashion, and its use of ‘oriental’ forms. Examine the images and notes in the text-file before completing steps 2 and 3 of this exercise.
Based on the materials supplied in the accompanying text-file, provide1 A4 page of discussion in response to the following questions:
Comparing the early twentieth century and now, how do notions of the ‘Asian’ or ‘oriental’ seem to you to differ both in their signification and in the role they play in constructing gendered representations of high fashion?
Judging from the material supplied, and other examples you might have encountered yourself: do contemporary uses of oriental motifs avoid the more obvious excesses of Poiret’s gendered, orientalist constructions?
If so, how are these motifs being used in more modern representations of fashion and the fashionable?
What underlying assumptions about ‘Asian’ culture and ‘eastern’ modes of femininity seem to you inherent in the use made of oriental motifs and ‘styles’ for western consumption, both by Poiret and his contemporaries, and in the more recent movement of ‘Oriental Fusion’?
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