Cloction – Clothedom + Fiction
Clothedom plays a vehicular role in structuring a work of fiction.
A story, a character, a plot revolves around a piece of clothing. But that piece of clothing is no long a piece of clothing. It is not just something worn, but something symbolised. It transcends into something bigger, something metaphorical.
A garment becomes a solipsis of something bigger. It may suggest some gamut of meanings, a certain social cache, a personal tick, a motley of agendas, sometimes a projectile of the wearer’s inner vested interests, a shorthand for stereotypes. Sadly, in most cases, usually in the hands/ pens of lesser writers, clothes (and the expressed knowledge of brands) is simply a superficial exercise in name-dropping, maybe even an excuse, or a certain pretension to cover-up for a lack of a deep understanding of how clothedom really works (they are out there, Ac.Stet. just have never bothered reading bad literature that use fashion references).
And sometimes, when used effectively, fashion becomes the fiction. How, bin such a way that if you remove that piece of clothing from the narrative, the story stops working anymore. And thus, says Zarathustra, Clothedom becomes Cloction.
In one of the earliest tales known to fashion-loving Man, brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Hans recount and censure the tale of the Little Red Riding Hood (originally written as Little Red Cap — but how in the world are the fashion folks supposed to relate to the morrible cap, relegated to Dutch trucker lowness? — and then so…). The female protagonist is not known by a human name, but christened after a common household garb. Because it is used as a name for a fictional character, it disappears into the vernacular of the narrative, a fairy-tale much less. Little Red Riding Hood is not only, in the strictest sense, nameless, but by virtue of the shield of her hood, almost faceless. A nameless and faceless woman (ok, corrections, G-i-r-l) – traipsing through the woods completely open to the ministrations of a wolf, decidely male, with penchant for cross-dress but definitely lecherous. By the red of this little riding hood, what can you infer about the status of women back in those days?In Haruki Murakami’s purposefully dry and sublimely moving ficto-omniverse, clothes are used to invoke a sense of time, space. Clothes as atmospheric, mood-inducing vehiculars. They give a feel of something cold, a replacement in the lives of his protagonists for something intangible – a loss of love, a sense of loss, and fibrous surrogates for the senses. His “Tony Takani” fiction engineers an abrupt death to a shopaholic housewife. A void is created where the bereaved husband is left not knowing what to do with the roomful of his spouse’s fashion clothing collection. He ended up hiring someone to work for him on the condition that she comes to work everyday of the week dressed with finds from his wife’s closet. Intending to create a versimilitude to fill the vacuum of his wife’s death, fashion perhaps imitate a certain vestige of the transit in the coming to terms with death. In the end, he realizes that clothes – hanger-appeal or no – when rendered without the right wearer, is as dead as the absence of the wearer. Only Cinderella will fit the glass slipper.
Earlier on in Homer’s Illiad, Penelope, who weaves and un-weaves her loom , and thus becomes the pioneer of a fashion seasonal cycle where the present season undoes the previous, so retail desire is whetted, abated, satiated and then whetted again.
Ah, isn’t this what fashion has become? Selling you stories of another life, so you too can be living a story? Frank Kermode will be so happy.