PODCAST REVIEW

The many influences of fashion on culture and the world

By Neroli Price 31 July 2020

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As fashion houses around the Northern hemisphere recently presented their couture, resort and menswear collections in different formats – digital or shows with a live audience – we explore the role of fashion and fashion brands in culture, the impact it has on our lives and our environment.

When we think of fashion, we often think of frivolity, extravagance or luxury; and yet, the power of clothing – and how it makes us feel – is undeniable. Whether it is because of some emotional connection, or because it says something about ourselves, the way we dress can be a powerful expression of who we are. It can also be a status symbol that comes at a high price and makes even more visible class divisions in a world driven by consumer capitalism. Today’s selection looks at shows that unmask the ways fashion works and if there are better ways to produce, sell, market and consume it.

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Perfume – Articles of Interest (99% Invisible, Radiotopia)

Length: 29 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2020

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast app or streaming service

It is not easy to translate one sense into another, but that’s exactly what producer Avery Trufelman does in this audio ode to smell. Sticking to her 99% Invisible roots, Trufelman starts with an everyday object and digs into its back story. In this case, the way that smells – and fragrances – influence our lives. She explores how different scents evoke different feelings, how scientists in a lab manufacture scents from unlikely sources and how fashionable scents have changed across time and space. Through well-placed minimal scoring, impeccable writing and solid story structure, Trufelman uses luxury and fashion as a prism through which to critically comment on class and capitalism. This is one of the most exciting new podcasts of 2020 and an absolute must listen.

If you loved this episode, you’ll probably love both seasons of Articles of Interest where you can find stories about Hawaiin shirts, diamonds and pockets.

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[Heritage] Mes Chéries: The Women of Christian Dior – Dior Talks

Length: 4 episodes, each between 10 and 14 minutes

Format: Miniseries

Year: 2020

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast app or streaming service

An audio recording of a live interview at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Curator of Modern Textiles and Fashion, Oriole Cullen, and Justine Picardie, fashion editor and biographer, discuss the lives of the women who shaped the founder of one of the world’s biggest fashion houses: Christian Dior. From his sister who joined the French Resistance against the Nazis to a psychic whom Dior consulted to make his biggest decisions, this pared back conversation is riveting and revealing. As is so often the case, the women profiled here are the invisible hands that lifted up their male counterpart’s career. We don’t know their names, but maybe we should. This series is as much about fashion as it is an exploration of Paris’s struggle to re-establish itself as a fashion capital in the wake of World War II and whose legacies we celebrate.

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The Leicester garment factories exposed by Covid-19 – Today in Focus (The Guardian)

Length: 25 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2020

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast app or streaming service

When we think about fashion, we tend to think about glamourous fashion shows associated with the rich and famous, but what about the people whose labour underpins the entire industry? In this episode of their daily news podcast, The Guardian investigates allegations that garment factories in Leicester are not adhering to Covid-19 safety measures. What they discover is an exploitative system propping up the fast-fashion industry, an industry driven by consumers like you and me.

For another Today in Focus episode about the cost of fast fashion, take a listen to Can the fashion industry ever be sustainable?

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The Secret Emotional Life of Clothes – Invisibilia (NPR)

Length: 1 hour, 1 minute

Format: Single episode

Year: 2016

Listen on: Apple podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast app or streaming service

What is the power of clothes? This is the question at the heart of this curious and wide-ranging episode which looks at the use of sunglasses to combat bullying, a Nazi shirt worn by a Jewish tailor to survive the Holocaust and the danger of shoes. With signature jauntiness and curiosity, the Invisibilia team takes big questions and spins them into engaging and delightful stories.

If you’re wondering how to listen to these audio gems, local podcast organisation Sound Africa has prepared a handy guide to show you how.

Happy listening! DM/ ML

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