The Culture Lens: Seeing Art and Culture Through Designer Glasses

We know fashion the same way we know our hair and our skin. Some of us know it better than others, but we all know what it means to put on clothes. Be it your favorite pair of mom jeans that squeeze your butt just right. Or maybe it’s that uber expensive bag you’ve spent entirely too much on. Whether fashion makes it easier for you to feel invisible or stand out from the crowd, it tells us a lot about ourselves. Maybe it tells us more than we think we know.

I discovered my favorite article of clothing on the streets of Japan. A jacket. Reversible. On one side is a cool sophisticated blue in shifty water resistant material. On the back is the Playboy logo. I call that the business side. The best part is when it’s reversed and filled with images of vintage Playboy ads. I love this jacket. It’s my I’m-not-paying-for-my own-drink kind of jacket.

If you were paying attention, I gave away a lot of information about myself. I love being inspired by the past. Can you say vintage thrift extraordinaire? I love female empowerment because I think wearing this jacket is cool and sexy and beautiful.

I travel. A lot. In 2018 alone I was fortunate enough to jet around four new and exciting countries. But lastly, it shows a brand, strong and iconic like Playboy, taking over as the most influential piece in my wardrobe. Where did that come from? Or better yet, what does that mean?

I think we have a tendency to consider fashion as separate from art and culture. Because I love to flirt with a new pair of cow print shoes, a Hawaiian dad shirt and a beret (all in one outfit, mind you) I must be a fashion major or fashion marketing, right?

Well, actually, I’m in advertising and branding. Another clue you could potentially derive from my affinity for wearing such an iconic logo. But even so, I put great detail and thought into the mood of my ensembles. Maybe because in advertising, we are taught to explore every pixel in the screen of pop culture, that I feel the power of an outfit.

For me, the gratification of a good look comes when “I love your outfit” is uttered by the world around me. But I wouldn’t get to have that satisfying, ego-boosting conversation if it weren’t for the fact culture exists. Fashion is not as exclusive or separate as it may seem, or, at least, it doesn’t have to be. Fashion and art exist as two sides of the same coin— a reflection of culture.  

This is the first piece to my weekly column, The Culture Lens, where I spend time contextualizing things in the art world that could potentially provide inspiration or knowledge. Maybe it will help curate a style revolution. But more likely, it will create an awareness within ourselves that extends a little broader. Hopefully, we can start to connect fashion and art to build a culture around creativity.

Words and Visual by Kylie Ruffino

More Stories
Stephen Street’s Journey to Fulfillment