The body as an object constructed through consumerism also becomes an important element in a feminine culture that is transformed and sold.’ The salient point in fashion photography remains that the images produced by practitioners working at the cutting edge of what is possible with photographic manipulation—digital or otherwise—we are encouraged to think about the ontology of fashion through the body of the model.
A process of transubstantiation transforms the fleshy, organic substance of the body into the artificial, synthetic substance of the fashion garment. The separate ontological states of what is possible “clothing” and what is possible “body” no longer signify and in the new entity that emerges from this alchemical process, the boundary between self and non-self is dissolved. The female model then can be seen as the embodiment of fashion’s imaginary. As the avatar of fashion, it is where artifice, change, and imagination coalesce on the body of the model to create a new, previously only imaginable, form.
Central to my argument is the different relationship that exists between the model’s body and fashion photography in the lived world and the body and clothing in fashion representation. In the lived world, this relationship has been characterized as one of co-dependency and equivalence, to the point where “dress cannot be understood without reference to the body and . . . the body has always and everywhere to be dressed” (Entwistle 2000: 324). But in fashion representation, Roland Barthes has suggested that a hierarchy exists, with fashion at the apex. Of particular relevance to this article is his explanation of how, in fashion representation, all that is natural is dissolved into the artifice of fashion.