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Extra info for Allure (May 2015)
Secondly, even in everyday language ‘the look’ (like the brand) does not normally refer to an image or even to a series of images. When we refer to Nike, we do not only have in mind a swish logo, or a shoe, or the value of ‘just doing it’. Rather, in the conception outlined here, what we have ‘in mind’ are the qualities which are emergent from an exceptionally complex apparatus, extended over time and space, and the shapes and arrangements in which they are (temporarily) stabilized. The look or brand in this sense come close to the idea of ‘aesthetic form’ (as Riles (2000) defines this term, following Bateson): the sensuous form or shape taken by information.
But, then, no object is ‘simply’ an object in the sense of a thingin-itself with intrinsic properties or qualities, or in the sense of a brute materiality as opposed to a sign. ANT has been (in)famous for dissolving all objects into the networks that format and sustain them. g. ), linguistic and visual codes. Specifying a car is an—in principle—endless business; I am only able to say unproblematically that ‘I am going to buy a car’ because this multitude of elements has been (provisionally) stabilized into an identifiable entity.
In shaping all aspects of the look, bookers thereby shape their career, making calculations as to what ‘look’ they embody and whether that look is ‘editorial’ or ‘commercial’ and how best to market this look which is constantly reconfigured as the model moves through a network of other mediators—designers, stylists, fashion editors and—we need to add—consumers of very diverse sorts. Much like the idea of a brand, ‘the look’ can summarize what is actually produced and sold through modelling, and how a great deal of fashion production, selling and consumption is organized.
Allure (May 2015)