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Original scientific paper

Fashion as an Aesthetic Form of Life: A Wittgensteinian Interpretation

Elena Abate orcid id

Full text: english pdf 136 Kb

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Fashion is an aesthetic practice that concerns the ordinary sphere of our life: it is associated with everydayness and it is a source of endless aesthetic experiences. The purpose of this paper is to validate a new perspective on fashion based on Wittgenstein’s later aesthetic conception. In Philosophical Perspectives on Fashion (2017), Matteucci introduces the idea of combining the Wittgensteinian concept of “form of life” with fashion. In accordance with this thesis, the paper aims at showing how fashion is constituted as a “form of life”. Specifically, I shall argue that fashion is an “aesthetics form of life” which structurally employs a language of an aesthetic type ––one with a specific grammar (or set of rules) of its own. I claim that there is in fashion a contact point between the grammar of language and socially encoded aesthetic responses: fashion follows slavishly its own grammar, through its cyclical seasonality, while at the same time tending to creatively reinvent itself. Thus, anyone who daily commits to the practices of fashion acquires sensitivity to its rules, contributing to a social dialectic of identification/diversification typically belonging to fashion itself. Finally, on the basis of the claim that fashion is a “form of life”, and indeed since fashion is primarily an aesthetic practice, I claim that Wittgenstein’s aesthetic notions can coherently be related to fashion as well: concepts such as ‘aesthetic reaction’, ‘gesture’, and ‘correctness’ will be shown to be crucial to an analysis of the aesthetic phenomenon of fashion.


Fashion, dressing, Wittgenstein, form of life, grammar.

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