The word "icon" acquired additional meaning in the 20th century: such notion as "icon of style" came into use. It refers to celebrities who have become models to follow. Lately, this phrase has been widely used in ad campaigns to promote various things. Fashion historian, scene designer, fine art expert, writer, lecturer and anchorman Alexander Vasilyev told Interfax-Religion correspondent Yelena Verevkina what stands behind these new "icons."
- Any icon represents a holy face, a certain ideal person strives to achieve. There's such notion as "icon of style" in the world of fashion. What ideals stand behind it? Don't you think that a person can express his or her inner world and spirituality through clothing?
- Icons of style are celebrities who are widely known beyond the street they live in or the place they work at. These people usually enjoy worldwide fame, outstanding appearance, great capital (it's a must to win popularity).Icons of style are often foreigners in the region where they gained fame. For instance, today French President's wife Carla Bruni is an icon of style. She's an Italian, but made a career in France and there she's considered an icon of style.
- What ideals icons of style preach? Are they just beautiful luxury-dressed people or something deeper than this?
- Is there inner spirituality behind it? No, I don't think so. Fashion and spirituality are different things. A spiritual person can be absolutely out of fashion and even don't know this year tendencies while a person who follows the fashion can never go to church, it can be alien for him, so there's no direct links between icon of style and church icon. The word "icon" came into world of fashion from the USA, such reference as icon of style came into use only after World War II, in the years of "cold war" and if I'm not mistaken this term appeared in late 1960s - early 1970s.
Pop singer Madonna has been considered an icon of style for the last twenty years. Is she a spiritual person? I'm not sure. Despite the fact that she always posts news about her quests in the religious field, we know she practiced cabbala and fell into Buddhism, but nevertheless I think it's all rather artificial.
- How people who were called icons of style influenced their contemporaries?
- Greatly. Not even hundreds of thousands, but rather millions of people tried to imitate them. Look at icons of style of the past, for example Greta Garbo or Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana - they all were models to follow. Women imitated color of their hair and hairdo, their make up, manner of speaking, manner of dressing, color combinations they used to wear, certain accessorize they preferred. Icon of style is a model to follow and to imitate, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
- So it's important not to overdo?
- Hard to say. Sometimes such imitations can be very charismatic and nice. For example, women imitated Raisa Gorbacheva's hairdo for a long time in our country, it was even called "raiska" as Raisa Gorbacheva became an icon of style for the epoch of perestroika, for the second half of the 80s while neither Brezhnev's nor Khrushchev's wives had been such icons.