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COMME des GARÇONS / Rei Kawakubo, Dress, Spring/Summer 2018. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute, Photo: Takashi Hatakeyama

The term “dress code” refers to rules and guidelines related to how individuals are expected to dress – whether in private or as members of specific social, occupational or ethnic groups. Designer dresses or jeans, suits or jogging bottoms, knitted jumpers or uniforms – every culture, society and group has its own dress codes, which may vary significantly by nationality, religion, age or gender. These norms are more or less tacitly assumed and are based on consensus within the group. Some develop “on the street” and in subcultures. In the 1970s, for example, the punk movement saw its dress code as an expression of political protest and opposition to the establishment and the upper classes.

Until 12 September, the exhibition Dress Code: Are You Playing Fashion? at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn will be exploring how we interact with dress codes and the ways in which long-standing norms are coded. The exhibition, organised in cooperation with the National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto and the Kyoto Costume Institute, systematises and visualises themes such as authenticity and brand fetishisation as well as locating fashion between the opposing poles of individualism and conformism. Creations by designers who have shaped the world of fashion, such as Armani, Burberry, Chanel, Comme des Garçons, Martin Margiela, Issey Miyake, Vetements and Vivienne Westwood are presented in dialogue with contemporary art by Keizo Motoda, Tom Sachs, Cindy Sherman, Oliver Sieber, Juergen Teller and Kyoichi Tsuzuki. An associated programme of film screenings, workshops and panel talks will explore buzzwords such as diversity, internet hype and sustainability. A range of fashion experts will interrogate topics such as gender-fluid fashion, the development of trends in the (post)digital age and the neo-ecology megatrend.

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