According to some anecdote, a military leader has invented jacket cuffs in order to stop his soldiers from wiping their running nose on the sleeve-end of their shirts. The truth or falsehood of this statement is not relevant for now, but it will serve well as a representative for numerous other stories linked to garments. The actual effect such an anecdote has on its denoted item is the essential criterion they all share. We might not know how and where such stories arise, but they present us with a pleasing scenario which turns a simple item into an artefact.
Peut-Porter is a crossover of the words peut-être and prêt-à-porter: the word peut-être – just as maybe – refers to the future in its literal meaning. It also indicates a speculation about scenarios and imaginative worlds, which is exactly what some of the published articles & projects will ask you to do.
Although many tales seem to refer to the past, the most different occasions create a link to our future. We might live in the present, but our hopes and fears keep us constantly looking ahead: science, technology, film, fiction or a simple insurance bill ask us to imagine objects and whole scenarios beyond the here and now. Most design-disciplines reason with practicality or functionality, technology or usability. Not so fashion. This is why I have decided to highlight one of the strongest abilities of our clothes: They are storytellers and create a subliminal visual language, sometimes cryptic and confusing, other times misleading and a third time crystal clear. Peut-Porter aims to investigate, collect and design these stories.
One of my favorite examples on this is the shoe thrown at George W. Bush – also called the ‘bush-shoeing’. Showing the sole of one’s shoe to someone or throwing a shoe has been rationally explained to be disrespectful and as the press suggests the shoe is regarded especially unclean in the arab world. Again, the truth or falsehood of the cultural events that caused the symbolic meaning of waving a shoe at someone are rather unimportant. Instead, I am most impressed how impactful garments can become as messengers once they are taken out of their ‘functional’ context.
Then again, the function itself can create a cultural comment and remind us of the solid social importance of wear: upon invention, the zipper was accused to cause moral decline as it eased the process of undressing. But while all of the above mentioned examples suggest to have a rational cause, many irrational and subliminal stories are linked to garments. Common superstitions – such as a shirt worn the wrong way round being a good charm – are just one example. A selection of these superstitions can be found in Altered Fate.
I am eager to find, collect and archive these stories which according to Roland Barthes could ‘tell of the things to come’ and hope to contribute to their existence by pointing them out, maybe even suggesting new ones in the process.