In his 1967 classic critique of late capitalist society, “Society of the Spectacle,” the French philosopher Guy Debord posited that the West has reached a new stage of relations between commodities and people. Whereas before the laboring classes were alienated by capitalism from the product of their labor, now they were also alienated by it from their entire lives, from their surroundings, and most importantly from each other. He posited that during early capitalism the process of alienation occurred only during the workday. Once the factory lights were out the worker could at least go home and engage in his or her communal life. Now, however, leisure time became completely monopolized by what he called “the spectacle,” a mode of life in which fetishization of commodities has “moved the focus of existence… from having to appearing.” If that sounds like Instagram to you, you are not wrong.
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, the new fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is marketed as the biggest one its Costume Institute has put on to date.