“Haute [Ghetto] Mess”: Postracial Aesthetics and the Seduction of Blackness in High Fashion

by Brandi Thompson Summers

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In the fashion industry, aesthetics not only define blackness in particular ways but also allow designers, editors, photographers, and stylists to play with the fluidity of blackness even (especially) when black bodies are not present. As Herman Gray writes, considering “the level of saturation of the media with representations of blackness, the mediascape can no longer be charac-terized using such terms as invisibility. Rather, we might well describe ours as a moment of ‘hyperblackness’” (1995, 230). Aesthetics, in general, have tre-mendous influence on how we make sense of and affectively respond to the world—what we “see” contextualizes what we make of individuals, environ-ments, and events.

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