Friday 21 January 2011

Badminton - The Next Fashion Capital

Julian Seaman | In His Weekend Job
Badminton's press officer & resident fashionista , Julian Seaman, (who incidentally holds down a day job lecturing in fashion) may well have been the spark that ignited a whole new way to dress for the three day event,  but a "research cluster" called The Fields of Fashion at Nottingham Trent University have been looking at the whole subject of 'Rural Fashion" and have published an online exhibition that looks at the clothes worn, sold and consumed at Badminton Horse Trials.

The exhibition – The Sights/Site of Badminton Horse Trials – is on show until the end of February via the university’s new online exhibition space, It aims to offer a fresh take on clothing in rural areas and, with particular reference to Badminton, examines how clothing has become as much a part of the event experience as the horses themselves.

The Fields of Fashion research cluster brings together a number of academics from diverse backgrounds in the visual and creative arts, all of whom share a common interest in fashion and rural life. The group suggests that, in recent years, there has been a tendency for scholarship to concentrate on the study of fashion in 'world cities' and urban spaces and places and that the fashion industry too is organised around a hierarchy of city-based hubs: London, Paris, Milan, New York, Tokyo.

Pop-Up Shopping Village
Meanwhile, rural spaces and places - the countryside - are imagined as being mired in anti-fashion with utilitarian work wear and traditional costume being the order of the day. Part of the work of the Fields of Fashion team is to consider the origin of these classifications - and to question them.
The exhibition emphasises how eventing has become increasingly associated with retailing – with a pop-up shopping village comprising more than 300 rural lifestyle traders and clothing stalls – and how the competitive aspect of the horse trial is mirrored within the competitive nature of visitors’ consumption of fashion.

“To be a winner or loser at Badminton can refer to more than just the names on the leader board,” said Dr Alison Goodrum, a reader in fashion at the university and part of the Fields of Fashion research cluster.

She said: “A visitor to the event can take on the different roles of bargain hunter, browser, souvenir-purchaser, spectator, rider and/or buyer of tack and specialist equine equipment. As much about the spectacle of consumption as the spectacle of elite horsemanship, 'pop-up' shopping villages such as that at Badminton can play an important part in the horse trial circuit.

Weather Inspired Fashion Or Haute Couture? 
“This exhibition considers this phenomenon and proposes the idea of the 'field as mall', presenting and representing what happens when the countryside turns marketplace and becomes a temporary site of trade and commercial exchange.”

Whatever happens this year at Badminton, you can guarantee there will be plenty of shopping and plenty of fashion, some of which will be borne out of necessity, and some of which will be inspired by the weather!

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