The devil not only has all the best music; she also wears Prada. Evil is stylish, elegant, polished, sleak. It is smart, chic, ritzy and always in vogue. Best of all, evil is fashionable. Villains have impeccable wardrobes; super-villains ooze effortless dressed-to-kill public ensembles with all the latest haute couture accessories. All around us, evil cleavage mingles with Joker-painted faces as a definitive statement on our unending fascination with evil.
Evil. Looks. Good.
The seemingly neutral act of dressing our bodies is a fertile ground for moral meaning. As something that everyone needs to do, everyone has the potential to be engaged in conversations about it. Fashion is also an accessible art form, an opportunity for any individual to express their interests, beliefs, or personality in a way that everyone who sees them will also see. As such, fashion can act as a canvas for the personal beliefs of the wearer. This has often made it a target for moral outrages — about exposed skin, about religious symbols emblazoned on t-shirts, about non-normative bodies that are already the objects of scrutiny and criticism from all directions.
At the same time, the fashion industry as we currently know it is a distinctly modern project with major ethical concerns, bringing together forces of industrial globalization, international labour concerns, a culture of disposability, and the environmental disasters implied by creating massive amounts of waste. Fashion is also the object of intensive advertising and all the moral problems associated with that. As a commercial concern, every part of the fashion industry – from the extraction of raw materials, to the questionable uses of labour involved in producing clothing, to the often unseen impact of unscrupulous practices in the lives of models, to fast fashion – it is the site of enormous ethical, humanitarian, and environmental concerns – made all the worse because, no matter what our ethical positions are, we are unable to avoid dressing ourselves.
The goal of this project is to develop an interdisciplinary conversation about fashion and evil that includes elements of both fashion as an industry, and fashion as an art form. These conversations will explore elements of fashion as a lifestyle, an art form, an at times iconic cultural product as well as being a material product, an industry and an employer. We particularly welcome input from activists and organizers working at the intersection of fashion industries and humanitarian and environmental concerns.
Fashion and Evil
1st Global Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference
Friday 8th July 2022 – Saturday 9th July 2022
Submissions for proposals are now open.