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Ugly Fashion Theory


Remember that Ugly fashion trend of a year or so a go? Balenciaga’s platform Crocs, Gucci’s Bum bags and the $400 million Ugg business. The ‘aesthetic of ugly’ has been prevalent throughout the course of art history. Karl Rosenkranz said in his 1853 book “The Aesthetics of Ugliness” that ‘If beauty excludes ugliness, it is useless as a mark of merit, since some ugly pictures are good.’ His philosophy emphasises the need for good craftsmanship in fashion to achieve ‘aesthetically unsettling’ pieces. Such pieces have the ability to jolt the industry out of complacency. Examples of this include Maison Margiela, Rei Kawakubo and Alexander McQueen. However, fashion has a stereotype of being frivolous and superficial so unexpected aesthetics can often be misconstrued as shoddy work because it is not understood or belongs to the typical conventions of beauty, generally seen in commercial fashion imagery. “I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists” (McQueen, 1998).

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