Moral Fibre: Dress Codes from Purity to Wickedness

Date: Jul 17, 2002 - Jan 19, 2003
Artist: Fashion Designers: Pam Chorley (Fashion Crimes), Nicole Cooper (Heretic), Dianna di Noble (Starkers!), Sandra Huculiak (Heretic), Marty Rotman (Northbound Leather) and Karen Simpson & Sandra Chirico (Ritual Designs), Photographers: Raoul and Dan Couto
Curated by: Max Allen

Moral Fibre takes you on a provocative tour that reveals the symbolism of clothing and textiles through different times, places, politics, styles and trends.



Subversion - The most striking clothes subvert our expectations and experiences. The uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is instantly recognizable; it stands for decency, integrity and virtue. But what are we to make of a "Mountie" uniform made entirely of shiny "fetish" leather?

Innocent Past - Once upon a time, there may have been a world of kindly wizards and fairy tale princesses. People who wear the styles of those times today (as designers re-imagine them) are cloaked in the manners and morals of fantastic history. 

Black and White Mor(t)ality - Black is the colour of wickedness and death, perversion and the dark side - but not always. The garb of Christian clergy, for example, is modestly black. White is the colour of purity and innocence, virginity and saintliness. But then along comes Calvin Klein underwear, and mass marketing soaks pure white cloth with sexual significance.

Tatters - Tattered and torn clothes fill the pages of fashion magazines and the wardrobes of the rich and celebrated. But tearing up perfectly good cloth to make rags from riches is neither new nor uniquely Western. Moral Fibre also features Buddhist priest kesas, or robes, which are deliberately "ruined" for the sake of humility.

Tight/Loose - Moral Fibre addresses the psychology of containment and concealment. A Victorian wedding dress with a loose, flowing train is so tight in the torso that if you took a deep breath, you might explode. Many years later, young girls are wearing skin-tight clothes while boys are dressed in layers of loose, body-concealing attire.

Styletribes - Thanks to the Internet, "styletribes" provide a sense of community, often over great distances in an increasingly fragmented world. Common appearance signals common interests - whether musical, cultural, sexual, political or ethical.

Second Skins - Skin-tight leather and rubber expose and reshape the body in shameless display. What's more, fetishism is redefining and extending the meaning of sex itself.



Moral Fibre: Dress Codes from Purity to Wickedness, By Max Allen