var en av de medverkande föreläsarna på modesymposiet vid Stockholms Universitet den 29-30 september. Jag fick äran att tala med henne om feminism, mode och skönhetsideal över en kopp te torsdagen den 28 september.Professor Elizabeth Wilson har bl.a. skrivit boken 'Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity'. Exempel på några kapitel är modets historia, modeindustrin, mode & erotik, kön & identitet, mode & populärkultur och feminism & mode. Wilson skrev boken år 1985, då hon i Storbritannien gick omkring i hennafärgat hår (vilket var tabubelagt) och var aktiv i den dåvarande feministiska rörelsen. Hon anammade looken 'the pre-Raphaelite aesthetic'. Jag frågade Wilson om hon fann det lätt att finna material till 'Adorned in Dreams.
''I did not know much. I didn't have any background in fashion history'', svarade hon.''Very little had been written on the subject. As they say; fools rush in, where angels fear to tread...''Vi berör ämnet kändiskultur. ''
In Britain, there's been a huge celebrity thing that young women, copy all these fads and novelties of minor celebrities, television celebrities. Or footballers' wives and girlfriends... or Kate Moss, for example, is very influential, but she is now starting to design clothes herself, so that is slightly different.'' Hon tittar på mig. ''
I think you're right'', säger hon med allvar i tonen
,''it is more this sort of media personalities, and not film stars, anymore.'' ''There used to be an oppositional culture. Singers were often seen as very rebellious and oppositional, and sort of bohemian and radical, and I don't think that's the case now. At all. There is nothing about the rebellion - it's just about success and fame, really. There is no critique of the existing order. And politics in Britain is pretty middle class. Yesterday, I was talking to a fashion journalist at a fashion conference in London, who said 'everybody says celebrity is over'. But then I wonder; what's there to replace it?''. Tja, säger jag, många hävdar att det aldrig kommer att komma en till Elvis eller Mick Jagger. Å andra sidan hävdar andra att designers är de nya stjärnorna eller ikonerna.
''Yes, maybe especially avantgarde designers. Caroline Evans, who is also going to participate in the fashion conference tomorrow, has written pretty interesting stuff on that. She says that, in a way, Alexander McQueen's catwalk shows at the end of the century, really expressed a politics that wasn't being articulated anywhere else at all, not in the culture nor in political movements.''Vi börjar att tala om skönhetsikoner. ''
Norms of beauty for women are becoming narrower, so at the extreme, everybody will look the same. You have to have your teeth straightened and whitened, you have to be blonde, you have to have this youthful face, and you might have to have a nose job... I don't like that so much.''
''And if you think of the famous film stars of the 30s, people like Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich had very strange faces. They were not really beautiful; they were just so striking and arresting.''När Wilson och jag börjar diskutera högklackade skor utbrister hon:
''We all have our fetischisms. I've always worn high heels. I can't bear wearing flat shoes. It's just something I feel comfortable in.'' Jag säger att jag håller med henne och tillägger att jag går som en pingvin i platta skor. Hon skrattar.
''And the argument is'', fortsätter Wilson, ''you couldn't run away if somebody was after you... but I don't run very fast anyway!''.Jag frågar Wilson vad hon anser om dagens västerländska skönhetsideal.
''There is a type of 'muslim feminism' which takes the line of 'Western women are enslaved by having to look beautiful all the time'.'' Jag frågade om hon håller med. ''
I personally don't buy the argument that 'you're just enslaved', because I think it's a natural human propensity to decorate yourself, really. In consumer culture today, it is exaggerated. There are aspects of it that are obviously either ridiculous or exploitative. I think cosmetics, for example beauty creams, they make claims that can't be justified. And I find that I am rather squeamish about cosmetic surgery, and so on. If it works, I think I'd do it. It never seems to work. Instead of looking 50, they look like a well preserved 45, so what's the big deal really?''. Jag kunde inte ha sagt det bättre själv.