Fashion responds and directs attitudes to distinguish whether something is viewed as tasteful normally by the trickle-down effect which is when the upper class start wearing something which is deemed as tasteful, which then trickles down to readymade copies by middle and working class so they can copy what is of good taste but by the time it reaches lower class it is no longer deemed of good taste and the whole cycle is thus repeated.
"Fashion is not properly a matter of taste (for it may be extremely antagonistic to taste), but a matter of mere vanity in order to appear distinguished."
-Immanuel Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View
Examples of fashion deemed as being of good taste –
Chanel’s Little Black Dress.
Chanel’s Little Black Dress.
Launched in 1926 it was nicknamed by American Vogue, ‘Chanel’s Ford dress,’ for being so easily ready made by its simple design of high neckline, long fitted sleeves, cut to above the knee and made with no adornment of frills or embroidery. It was marketed as the uniform for the modern woman; it was launched at a time of the Great depression so it was in fitting with the time and became a symbol of practical chic. It was therefore deemed as being of good taste as was functional to the period, Chanel has been reported of saying, ‘Really they are so badly dressed, I will put them all in black to teach them good taste.’ What was once launched as a practical example of clothing has been over time marketed to become an indicator of elegant good taste.
Dior’s ‘New Look.’
In the post war era of 1947 Dior aimed to capture the imagination and hope of women in launching his ‘New Look’ which consisted of nipped in waists and billowing full flowing skirts. It created instant attention due to its excess it became a symbol of taste by its affiliation to the upper classes as they were the only ones able to buy it and could not be instantly copied as fabric was still being rationed therefore it was marked out as an inspirational look. It was marketed as an antithesis to war time and inspired from women returning to more passive roles in the home so it was shown as step away from utilitarian clothing and a symbol of glamour and femininity. Dior was not alone in his venture it was a collaboration between himself and Marcel Boussac who was also known as the ‘cotton king,’ therefore by introducing a style deemed of being of good taste which used full billowing skirts it was in favour of Boussac’s business of supplying fabric, therefore promoting textile industry at the same time. The way it was marketed and distributed only among the wealthy at first ensured it the stamp of being of good taste, but in reality it was not in good taste of the time as it was a period when rationing was still in place until 1953 so was insensitive to the needs of the collective public, it was banned in Britain as was seen as symbol of extravagance.
Calvin Klein boxers.
The launch of Calvin Klein boxers in 1982 transformed men’s underwear market, previously just known as functional object almost over-night it was re-launched as sought after fashion forward product. It was at a time in the eighties when emergence of new man was becoming prominent in seeing not just women as objects to be admired but men were being viewed as objects of admiration and in taking pride of themselves. Calvin Klein’s were marketed by a sensual portrayal which would appeal to men and women and were instantly sought after as symbols of fashionable taste. They still are seen as indicators of good taste by their numerous celebratory endorsements, how they are marketed and consumed by the public still relies heavily on the symbol they represent of increased sexuality.
However nowadays we no longer are so reliant on how something is marketed to be deemed as tasteful, it has become more subjective by the dissolution of trickle-down effect and by the emergence of mass media which enables word of mouth and online consensus in favour of just the solely marketed image. We are wiser and open to the impact of marketing, taste has become subjective.