MoMu’s library collection aims to help those who want to learn more about fashion. Researchers find their way to the library and one of them is Saul Marcadent, a PhD candidate in Fashion design at Iuav University of Venice. Among his research interests, the relations between publishing, fashion and visual culture, with a special focus on small publishers and niche magazines.
This research deals with the reading, analysis and interpretation of magazines intended as places of production and devices of the imagery and while questioning their role in the creation of the material and immaterial identity of fashion.
Although magazines represent a precious resource for fashion researchers, a fundamental tool for the development of editorial and exhibition projects, magazines studies still play a marginal role in research, a field of study that is less cultivated in spite of its relevant historical precedents. In this regard, a perfect example is the work that Roland Barthes carried out on two French magazines – “Elle” and “Jardin des modes” – within a precise timeframe, which resulted in the long essay published in 1967, “Système de la mode”.
Having restricted its scope, this research moves through four long-term issues related to niche magazine publishing – temporal dimension, magazine-city relationship, imagery, art direction as element of conjunction and a form of curating – and their modes of expression since the Nineties. Each topic is supported by a theoretical core as well as by a case study and it gives way to a series of editorial episodes. The preferred method is interdisciplinary – historical, sociological and semiological at the same time – and the approach, inductive.
Among the case studies, “A Magazine Curated By”. The recent essay “Anversa 2001. Editoria, mostre e immaginari della moda” – included in the book “Design e immaginario. Oggetti, immagini e visioni fra rappresentazione e progetto” (Il Poligrafo, 2016)– investigates the first issues of the magazine, published between 2001 and 2003, entitled by using letters in alphabetical order; “N°A”, “N°B”, “N°C” and “N°D”are assigned to the fashion designers Dirk van Saene, Bernard Willhelm, Hussein Chalayan and Olivier Theyskens.
The essay deals with the themes of authorship and imagery by highlighting the distinctive features of the magazine: the difference between the roles of editor-in-chief, Gerdi Esch, and guest curator; advertising intended as part of the editorial project with the aim of a mutual enhancement advertiser-magazine; the fashion journal is an experimental workshop in the frame of the complexity of the festival “Mode 2001 Landed-Geland”, a cultural and political initiative that underlines the importance of Antwerp as city of fashion and especially as the voice of Flemish fashion in the international scene.
The case study is to be further developed through the analysis of the archive material regarding the first issues of “A Magazine” as well as with a double conversation with Gerdi Esch and Paul Boudens, editor and art director of the editorial experience.
Words by Saul Marcadent