Lara Rößig, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Fashion Foodnotes. Understanding the Social, Environmental and Cultural Implications of the Food-Fashion Nexus (Working Title)

In societies where Kate Moss’ mantra of “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” still seems to prevail, a relation of food and fashion is often dismissed. Yet both fields exhibit strong similarities. Both are listed as basic human rights in Article 25 of the United Nation’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. Moreover, food and fashion are what Marcel Mauss calls “total social fact[s]”, phenomena that have implications for all members of societies, as well as religious, political and economic impact. Thus they impact nearly all societies while simultaneously constituting two of the world biggest industries as well as serving similar social functions, as transmitters of values, beliefs, traditions, and aesthetics of individuals and societies.

In addition, we can observe a growing connection of the two realms – a nexus that has become more prominent and popular in recent years. The multifaceted phenomena linking food and fashion and how they present themselves in diverse contexts form the core of the research question. The need for a joint research grows more urgent as more and more fashion is printed like, shaped like or even made of food, in addition to the large number of collaborations between fashion designers and food chains. And vice versa, as cookies shaped like dresses are as common as dresses printed with cookies, not even to mention Lady Gaga’s meat dress, plasticized earrings and fabrics made from food-waste. What do they tell us about key cultural processes such as identity construction, gender performance and (environmental) awareness?

In our interconnected, globalized world understanding social dynamics means understanding economic developments as well as environmental processes as they are all mutually dependent on each other. Looking at the intersection of food and fashion will enable me to gain a more holistic understanding of these key interests. Through the joint research of the two fields and utilizing their capacity to employ them to similar research objectives, this dissertation will contribute an innovative new perspective to the study of social realities and cultural practices.


Keywords: American Cultural Studies, Food Studies, Fashion Studies, Sustainability, Gender Performance, Identity Construction, Social Values