Fashion Rules OK. Online exhibition


Special Collections, University of Otago

Date Created



'Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance' - Coco Chanel

In Hollywood Costume (2012) Valerie Steele writes: 'fashion is usually defined as the prevailing style of dress at any given time, with the implication that it is characterised, above all, by change...Fashion is also a system involving not only the production and consumption of fashionable clothes but also discourses and imagery'. Some of these discourses and imagery are showcased in Fashion Rules OK, revealing both the allure and the work of fashion. Drawing on a diverse collection of books, magazines, and objects, Fashion Rules OK samples the breadth and diversity of writing on this subject, and offers a glimpse below the surface of appearances. Perspectives range from the world of couture, the peripheries of production, and childhood fashions, to Chinese dress, the runway, and the laundry. It presents the highs and lows of fashion style from the Regency period to the Moderns; some iconic Fashion Greats; and aspects (some forgotten) such as fashion etiquette, fashion marketing, fashion theory, and costume. Although for want of space some important areas of fashion writing are neglected, the exhibition is not so much a stocktake as an exploration of contrasts. Fashion Rules OK aims to show the ubiquity of fashion in the history of everyday life.

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