In the nomad style

Vogue shoot, nomad/ethnic

Every few years this romance of ethnic plus nomad comes back around. For a previous example, see 2008. This year it seems to have returned as the usual Siberian/Mongolian nomad style, but hybridized with a specific pastiche of ethnic costumes and craft embellishments. Fashion in the west loves to memorialize whatever is recently lost, especially if it’s lost thanks to the West’s own economic encroachments. Or, conversely, is it also that our political unconscious dictates that the troubling rise of the mega-economies of Russia, India, Brazil and ┬áChina be managed aesthetically, say via the untroubling romance of their charming pasts? This shoot could be an amalgam of all of those costume traditions. Not to psychologize fashion overly much, but when has fashion (or aesthetics in general) not been the thin end of the wedge of politics? And when has it not been prescient? Depression Chic appeared a full year before the global economic crash: coincidence? Top four photos, Steven Meisel, 2010. Bottom, Meisel photos from Vogue 2008. Not going to elaborate further on the obvious imperial/post-colonial paradox of all this, except to say it’s a bit like naming a mine after the lake you just drained in order to dig it. This look is magical, though. Partly for that reason. By the way, what does “we are the world” mean?

Vogue shoot, nomad/ethnic

Vogue shoot, nomad/ethnic

Vogue shoot, nomad/ethnic

From 2008:

Vogue spread, Bhutan, in 2005 by Steven Meisel

Vogue spread, Bhutan, in 2005 by Steven Meisel

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2 Responses to “In the nomad style”

  1. Muyserin Says:

    I agree with you. It’s one of the dilemmas of living in a post-modern world: knowing that the whole ethno aesthetics is built upon the “imperial/post-colonial paradox”, yet still finding it beautiful, rich, appealing.

  2. LB Says:

    Yes, I know, hard to defeat the impulse. Then there’s the fact that Mongolian nomad dress is just inherently good-looking thanks to its utilitarian integrity. The herder on the motorcycle in my previous blog post is just better dressed than anything I see on the street.

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