Man Ray, sans titre

Man Ray and Anja Aronowsky Cronberg

Man Ray, Sans titre, 1925 © Man Ray 2015 Trust / Adagp, Paris 2020

The system and industry born to cater to our desires is as paradoxical as it is complex and few are the areas so often shamed by outsiders. Child labour, overproduction and consumption, narrow ideals of beauty and environmental damage are just a few of the sore points that concern those of us who love fashion. Fashion is a system that's easily condemned. Superficial, fickle, frivolous and indulgent – there are few invectives that have yet to be hurled at fashion. Conscientious fashion lovers have no doubt asked themselves many times over whether fashion as we know it could survive without the material abundance we've become accustomed to, or the ideals we've created and that egg us on in our quest to always be better, brighter versions of ourselves. Fashion seems to revel in being the rebel – it's a zone where even the most level-headed among us allow ourselves to be bad, irrational and slightly wayward. Perhaps we need this area as a zone to break out of an otherwise strictly conditioned existence. Through fashion we can be guilty of inconsistencies and misdemeanours and permit our better selves a momentary rest. Fashion is an area where it often feels good to be bad. At this moment of self-reflexion and uncertainty prompted by the coronavirus, I think these are important things to consider. Our lumps and bumps, both moral and physical, are a constant cause of shame, but, to paraphrase Sartre, it's in this shame that we can unveil the most intimate aspects of our beings.

Mrs Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, Senior Research Fellow at the London College of Fashion, Founder of Vestoj Magazine


Read the other tributes

Man Ray and Fashion
from 23 September to 17 January 2021