"The Graveyard: Veils and Masks" Installation View

The Museum at FIT

The Museum at FIT

The central platform, surrounded by a graveyard fence, evokes a sense of claustrophobia, as does veiling, masking, and corsetry.

The association of fashion and death is central to gothic style, but death is also allied to fashion in general. "Fashion must die and die quickly, in order that it can begin to live," declared Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. "One must forgive fashion everything, because it dies so young," joked her friend, the poet Jean Cocteau.

"Fashion mocks death," countered the philosopher Walter Benjamin. By celebrating novelty and artificiality, fashion promises seasonal renewal and eternal youth. Yet although fashion is the modern measure of time, it exists outside the organic cycle of birth, death, and decay. According to Benjamin, the essence of fashion is fetishism, because it is based on the sex appeal of the inorganic. As a result, he argues, the living person becomes a kind of mannequin, "a gaily decked-out corpse."

Unlike the living and dying body, fashion is neither dead nor alive. Like the vampire, fashion is undead.

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  • Title: "The Graveyard: Veils and Masks" Installation View
  • Location Created: USA
  • Type: Photograph
  • Rights: Copyright The Museum at FIT