"Killvin Klein": Grotesqueries in the Fashion Industry / Tom Grantham


My interest in combining the imagery of horror films with that of major fashion campaigns lies in hopefully inciting the vast and numerous grotesqueries of the fashion industry - particularly in how they relate to politics of identity and representation. Campaign materials and photoshoots seem to operate on a strict dichotomy of what is desirable - i.e. the model/models featured, the clothing and accessories being displayed - and what is not. The undesirable element is everything that is omitted; with regards to the representation of peoples, this omission often directly pertains to those disenfranchised or marginalised by society, be it by race, by class, by ability or by gender.

Even as diversity in casting becomes more widespread throughout the fashion industry, it is difficult to separate a genuine desire for change and diversification from a more simplistic urge from brands to appear progressive and inclusive, and thereby appeal to a more socially-conscious youth demographic. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the reliance of the industry upon women in its campaign materials - there is perhaps no other creative sphere in which women are foregrounded more, and yet, their image and voice more manipulated and restrained, acutely tailored to the (even now, primarily male-oriented) gaze of the consumer.

As such, the fashion campaign presents an anomaly, suggesting rebellion, strength and individuality whilst asserting the same old legacies of mastery and objectification, rather than progressive representation. The introduction of horror and chaos into these campaign images is a playful, yet extreme way of highlighting the contradictions of the fashion industry - with the presence of the most feared and misunderstood creations of horror cinema taking to task the casting practices of fashion campaigns, and placing the marginalised voices of dominant society front and centre.

Words by Tom Grantham