EYE CANDY

The Photographer Charles Fréger Is Confronting Fashion’s Cultural Appropriation Problem

From the Opera Series, 2005-2007 - Photo by Charles FrÇger.jpg
Charles Fréger

Is it possible to get through a season of Fashion Week without at least one designer being accused of cultural appropriation? It’s not that their intentions are impure; unfortunately, it’s that designers fail to provde proper contextualization or attribution to the subcultures and societies to which they intend to pay homage. That’s why, just in time for the upcoming fall 2019 shows, Armani has teamed up with the French photographer Charles Fréger, who’s made it his mission to familiarize the fashion industry with the richness of the world outside of fashion’s capitals, for an exhibition at Armani/Silos in Milan. “I think some of the biggest names in fashion today have integrated the concept of belief, of ritual,” Fréger said. “[But] many designers have appropriated this ritual clothing,” he continued, “often taking many liberties.” His work isn’t intended to call them out; instead, the 250-plus images featured in “Fabula,” which is on view through March 24, are a celebratory look at the dress codes, rituals, and masks of communities ranging from Sikh soldiers to sumo wrestlers to Finnish ice-skating teams. In bringing such seemingly disparate groups together, Fréger intends to highlight how they all—along with fashion-industry heavyweights like Armani—share one major similarity: the use of fashion as a means to communicate, and to express their belonging.

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Charles Fréger

Charles Fréger, Scot Guard, U.K., from the “Empire“ series, 2004–2007. Featured in the exhibition Fabula by Charles Fréger, on view at Armani/Silos in Milan through March 24, 2019.

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Charles Fréger

Charles Fréger, from the “Opera” series, 2005–2007. Featured in the exhibition Fabula by Charles Fréger, on view at Armani/Silos in Milan through March 24, 2019.

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Charles Fréger

Charles Fréger, Juji, South Korea, from the “Talchum” series, 2013. Featured in the exhibition Fabula by Charles Fréger, on view at Armani/Silos in Milan through March 24, 2019.

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Charles Fréger

Charles Fréger, Turkey, from the “Mevlevi” series, 2016. Featured in the exhibition Fabula by Charles Fréger, on view at Armani/Silos in Milan through March 24, 2019.

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Charles Fréger

Charles Fréger, Queens of Cebu, Philippine islands, 2011. Featured in the exhibition Fabula by Charles Fréger, on view at Armani/Silos in Milan through March 24, 2019.

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Charles Fréger

Charles Fréger, India, from the “Painted Elephant” series, 2013. Featured in the exhibition Fabula by Charles Fréger, on view at Armani/Silos in Milan through March 24, 2019.

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Charles Fréger

Charles Fréger, Togo, from the “Asafo” series, 2014. Featured in the exhibition Fabula by Charles Fréger, on view at Armani/Silos in Milan through March 24, 2019.

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Charles Fréger

Charles Fréger, Boes, Sardinia, Italy, from the “Wilder Mann” series, 2010–2017. Featured in the exhibition Fabula by Charles Fréger, on view at Armani/Silos in Milan through March 24, 2019.