Saturday, 15 June 2019

Space, Gaze and Power: A Foucauldian Methodology for Fashion Advertising Analysis

Figure 1: Las Meninas (1656) by Diego Velázquez © Museo Nacional del Prado

Link to free copy

Below is the abstract from my recently published articles in Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture and above, if you click on the link, you can download a free copy (please note, there are only 50 free copies, so at some point they will run out).

This article examines fashion imagery in regard to representations of power as they pertain to the mise en scene of fashion advertising. By employing a specific form of image critique employed by Michel Foucault in The Order of Things [1966], a new methodology for analyzing fashion advertising is proposed and formulated. This form of critique enables elements such as the gaze, light and space to be framed into lines of sight. These lines can be examined in regard to the viewing subject, the staging of the advert, and structures of power. In his critique of the painting by Diego Velázquez Las Meninas (1656), Foucault states: “No gaze is stable, or rather, in the neutral furrow of the gaze piercing at a right angle through the canvas, subject and object, the spectator and the model, reverse their roles to infinity”. This sentence presents us with the phenomenological form of Foucault’s critique, containing a number of the themes that thread their way through his analysis of this baroque painting of the characters surrounding the child princess. These themes enable us to use this methodology to critique fashion imagery and this article offers up a new approach to visual analysis, one that has not been considered before and that can now be added to the fashion theory toolbox.

Keywords: fashion advertising, Michel Foucault, hermeneutics, pedagogy, phenomenology