Fashion Look in Semiotic System

This week, I would like to try to briefly analyze a look of Heaven Gaia RTW Spring 2017 in Paris Fashion Week. The designer is Chinese whose name is Xiong Ying.

Basing on the model of dialogic, generative visual semiotics in artworks, I rearrange the model a bit to make it more fit to my case study. A question I would like to list here is that ss it reasonable to have all the compositional semantic values activated?

+ combinatorial composition on a rectangular surface as a general formal feature of apparel design

     + composition as arrangement of discrete elements

This dress is obviously a composition of discrete elements. When criticizing a costume     design, we usually do the analysis from three basic perspectives which are the structure, fashion elements and the texture. In this way, this dress can be regarded as the composition of dip-dyed silk (texture and fashion elements), Mandarin collars and covered button fastenings (fashion elements),hand-painted motifs (fashion elements), blue and white porcelain tiles (texture and fashion element) to create a chain-mail-style dress (structure), typical Chinese cheongsam outline (structure).

Is it necessary analyze this part in separate perspective or just put them together? Can the co-working of the three perspectives itself be regarded as a combination?

+ surface of the costume as combination/assemblage of images and marks

    + illusionistic picture plane, no depth, only surfaces and material forms

The use of silk and the blue and white porcelain are the two key points of Ying’s design, also two typical Chinese style elements which can also be regarded as symbol of traditional Chinese culture.

  + traditional formal laws of arrangement (here refers to the typical structure of a specific type of dress)

Yes, the structure (outline) of the dress follows the design of Chinese cheongsam.

+ reuse already made images, objectified

The patterns on the porcelains are typical elements in traditional Chinese ink and wash paintings, while the designer did not mention if the imaged on the dress were rubbingged from several specific traditional Chinese ink and wash paintings or did she paint these patterns herself.

+ marks and images made by hand and already machine made

Information relevant to this part are insufficient. The losing information here are about whether the dyed-silk and porcelain pieces are hand-made or produced by machine and whether the images on the porcelain are handcraft or digital printing are not clearly given.

-“original” images made by hand of artist

As the upper-class title of the line is surface of the costume as combination/assemblage of images and marks, when looking at the design of the dress, I do not see any totally new structure, elements or textures that do not exist before.

However, what I would like to add is that the whole design of this dress is a complete personal creating process, the way that the designer arrange the structure, the fashion elements and texture together basing on the existing correlations, the ground of the collective understanding to specific fashion elements and the basic law of costume designing, is “original”.

+ invoke representational question: the relation of the painting/art object to the world outside the object

– cancel representational form and indexical/referential potential of the dress

    + embed real objects and photographs as things, not representations of thing

Audience who went to the Paris Opera will be able to see the real artifact of this dress while now, we can only see the videos of the show and photos of each look in the show.

+ composition imitating irrational states of objects (Dada), randomized placement [?]

More things that I think should be put into consideration in this part is that

1) the model who shows the dress.

2) the concept of the whole series

3) the site setting and background music of the show

4) a comparison between the run way look and the products actually on sale in the same series.

The left problem here is that I’m still confused about how to relate them with the existing model, to analyze them in a more symbolic way instead of what just like a fashion critique.

In order to getting familiar with the correlation in the field and do the analysis better, more works should be done on the field of fashion and China chic.


Information about the dress


Detailed look of the dress and the whole series.!2/heaven-gaia-rtw-spring-2017-2

Blue-and-white pottery



The stylish and often tight-fitting cheongsam or qipao (chipao) that is best known today was created in the 1920s in Shanghai and made fashionable by socialites and upper class women.

Chinese ink and wash painting