The Fashion Studies Journal
On Mental Health, Lee Alexander McQueen, and Slow Fashion
“Why is it that when we think of mental health, we so often equate it with poor mental health? When exploring the relationship between mental health and fashion, inspired by FSJ’s call for contributions on the subject in early 2021, I thought of my own experience in the fashion industry, as the digital editor-in-chief of a prestigious publication at the age of eighteen, newly propelled onto (or rather, sitting by) the runways of London and Paris. I thought of how my own experiences with mental illness later turned me “out” of fashion: how I went from attending shows in the front row to a tranquil job in a different field, in a different city. Considering mental health in terms of fashion, for me, also evokes images of Alexander McQueen’s shows. I’m reminded of cages and how often they appeared in his work, echoing the poignant words of Antonin Artaud, “clous carrés cages.” I thought of how often women – and men – were masked in his shows, defaced, wearing fashion as armor and weapon both; what McQueen would call a “psychological way of dressing”. Restriction, constriction, folly, VOSS’s “holding cell in a mental institution” (reminding me of the name of the latest Serge Lutens fragrance, La dompteuse encagée).”
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