Ordinary transvestitism: Imaginary body–real body in contemporary fashion

Ordinary transvestitism: Imaginary body–real body in contemporary fashion
International Journal of Fashion Studies, Issue 2.2 (2015)

ordinary cross-dressing, semblance, fashion, proper body, One-body (Un-corps), logic of the gaze

The study we are proposing here concerns the transition between clothes and the images that they convey. At the same time, we have given thought to the body and on the way in which it becomes incarnated in contemporary fashion. From a semiotic point of view, we are situated in a perspective which has been a little bit forgotten, by drawing on the category of Barthesian semblance and by questioning it in the light of new data. More precisely, our semiotic approach has been carried out by adopting other disciplines such as psychoanalysis, philosophy and Kabuki theatre (in this case, the character of onnagata). To do this, we have chosen to grasp what is at play concerning the body in present-day ready-to-wear clothes. To illustrate our remarks, we have based our work on a particular example, that being the universe of Yves Saint Laurent’s (YSL) house of fashion, more precisely their 2012 Men’s collection. In fact, these clothes reveal that what we see is within the realm of appearance, but, at the same time, they show that they are the appearance of the appearance. Indicating a radical dissociation between clothes and gender, YSL opens the enigma of One-body. This designer strips the gaze which refers less to the imaginary body and the gender comedy than the enigma of the real body defined in the psychoanalytic field.


Dans ce travail, nous proposons une étude sur la transition entre le vêtement et les images qu’elles véhiculent. En même temps nous présentons une réflexion sur le corps et sur la façon dont il s’incarne dans la mode contemporaine. D’un point de vue sémiotique, nous nous situons dans une perspective quelque peu oubliée, en mobilisant la catégorie de la semblance barthésienne et en l’interrogeant à l’aune de données nouvelles. Plus précisément, notre regard sémiotique procède d’emprunts d’autres disciplines telles que la psychanalyse, la philosophie, ainsi que l’art théâtral du Kabuki (en l’occurrence, la figure de l’onnagata). Pour ce faire, nous avons choisi d’appréhender ce qui se joue du corps dans l’actualité du prêt-à-porter. Afin d’illustrer notre propos, nous nous appuyons sur un exemple singulier, celui de l’univers de la marque Yves Saint Laurent, collection homme 2012. En effet, ces vêtements révèlent que ce que 1
l’on voit est de l’ordre de l’apparence, mais ils montrent en même temps qu’ils sont l’apparence de l’apparence.


Du travestisme ordinaire : Corps-imaginaire-corps réel dans la mode contemporaine


The English version is available in the hardcopy edition of issue 2.2 and online:


About Marco Pedroni

Ph.D. in Sociology and social research methodology. I am a Researcher in the Sociology of Culture at the Università e-Campus (Italy), Faculty of Psychology. I got the National Scientific Qualification as Associate Professor (disciplinary area: Sociology of culture and communication). Formerly I was a Research Fellow and an Adjunct Professor of Sociology of Culture at the University of Bergamo, an Adjunct Professor of Communication Theory and Sociology at the Politecnico of Milan, and a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Sociology of Culture at the Università Cattolica of Milan, where I am a collaborator of the Centre for the Study of Fashion and Cultural Production (ModaCult). I am currently working on the role of identity and storytelling in the social media, on the themes of sharing and the collaborative economy, and on the cultural industries such as fashion and gambling. I've taught as a Guest Lecturer for several courses and institutions, including the London College of Fashion, the Milano Fashion Institute, the Marangoni Institute, the Universidad of Sevilla, the Izmir University of Economics, and the Winchester School of Art. I am the Editorial Assistant of the International Journal of Fashion Studies published by Intellect Books. I am the author of Coolhunting (2010) and a co-editor of Moda e arte (Fashion and Art, 2012). My most recent book is From Production to Consumption: The Cultural Industry of Fashion (Interdisciplinary, 2013). The full list of my scientific articles is available on my Academia.edu profile.

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