La Moda

LA MODA: ¿la conoces en toda su dimensión? por Encarnita Ortega

“FASHION is a phenomenon that comes out of the very personality of an individual towards the exterior, that is, an expression of ourselves, of the sense we make out of life, of our likes, of our culture, and of our history”, says Enrique Loewe Lynch in the Foreword to the book ‘FASHION: Do you know it in all its dimensions?’


On the lower part of this blog is my crude translation of the excellent 2nd Chapter “Ethics” of her book.  Following immediately is a ‘Conceptual Framework’ I found among my files which I suppose I did in connection with the issue of Fashion & Femininity that we were asked to consider:



I’m not sure if the above is legible, but let me enumerate the points (GIST of what I think are the most important aspects pointed out in the book about FASHION):

1.  Being before having or possessing:

“Concept of Beauty: A Survey among High School and University Students”

” ‘Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder’: A Discussion of the Concept of Beauty in the Arts Studies Department of XX and YY Universities”

2. Influence of the Mass Media:

“Television: Instances of Objectification of Women”

“Advertising: Instances of Objectification of Women”

“The Internet: Instances of Objectification of Women”

3. Need for elegance, modesty, decency, prudence…

“The Concepts of Elegance, Modesty and Prudence Among High School Students”

“The Concepts of Elegance, Modesty and Prudence Among University Students”

“Educating the Youth in Elegance and Modesty: A Gameplan”

4. Requires effort and struggle:

“Exercise of Moderation and Discipline in Shopping: A Survey”

“Exercise of Moderation and Discipline in Preferences and Lifestyle: A Survey”

Vanitas Vanitatum: Is There a Relationship between Socio-Economic Status and the Level of Vanity?”

5. Fashion = privilege of emphasizing the truth about the human person:

“Return to Human Dignity: Are Students Aware?”

“Fashion as a Cultural, Economic, Sociological, Moral as well as Artistic Reality: A Review of the Literature”

6. Truth: Daughter of God:

“The Aid of the Sacraments in the Lives of Fashion Designers, Promoters & Consumers”

” ‘ Glorify God in your Bodies’: A Theological and Philosophical Analysis of St. Paul’s Words”

🙂  🙂  🙂

LA MODA (by Encarnita Ortega)

Chapter 2: Ethics

Life is full of risks.  But we cannot forget that it is worthwhile committing oneself and taking a step.  We struggle to attain higher demands, although we manage to only approximate the ideal.  This is not failure: if that ideal weren’t to exist, there would not be any progress.

Professional ethics leads fashion professionals to weigh the demands of the market against their role of informing: their struggle to inform without disfiguring the truth.  Image allows us access to reality directly: it is a living source of information which proposes to inform without masking the truth, without trying to unload onto the others one’s own responsibility which requires concordance with the object, with its mission: a silver jar is well-placed in an embassy or in a little palace, while that of clay is more suited to an inn.  An actor that takes on the role of a king in a scene wouldn’t think of getting himself drunk while in those robes: it would be completely unfortunate to wear royal robes while entering a bar.

Elegance brings along with it the “why and wherefore”: it demands an attitude which calls for internal acts, decisions, ways of judging.  Vice is unelegant.  We can see that in someone who allows himself to be carried away by hatred, anger, gluttony… Elegant are those acts which proceed from virtue: generosity, sincerity, refinement…

Elegance in dress is the criterion in respecting the others and oneself, in dealing with one’s own body.

Elegant acts make family, work and social life more pleasing, while unelegant reactions make dealing with others rather difficult.

Elegance eliminates the corny, the ugly, the grotesque.  It is the manifestation of one’s own human way of acting.  We have heard it said: “you are right, but that’s not the way to express it”.  Dominion over first reactions is revealing of the dominion by the spirit over impulse, which tries to obtain things in the most comfortable and quickest way, a way of working that is –as has just been pointed out– properly human.  Corniness is manifestation of falsehood in actuation, because that which one tries to manifest is not characterized by possession or truth, a show of a culture that does not exist, of economic means that one does not possess, of an elegance or finesse that is put on, a presumptuous language…

Here is where authenticity becomes necessary, which is at the very foundations of being human.  All human activity, all authentic activity is elegant because of the just measure of spirituality which it brings along with it.  A French author, Secretary of the Goncourt Academy –one of the most elegant Frenchmen– wrote:  “Clothes, in general, are important, but they are only exterior.  The soul is within.  Therefore, in order to talk about elegance, we also have to talk about moral elegance, of vital attitudes open to generosity”.

Fashion ought to elevate what is best in the human being, without falsifying the values that exist in the woman, in order not to turn her into object of supply and demand, into something, which will lead her to receive the treatment which is given to things: they are used, spent, changed.

We know that the anguish of human beings of the 20th Century is not found in fashions but in man.  Nevertheless, the aesthetic tyranny of some trends presents the image of the human person as dirtied, without horizons, without destiny; incapable of asking himself: where am I going? because he does not find any response, since he lives under the bitter sadness of a material non-transcendence.  This is the image which they intend to project of man, primordially a beast.

It is the madness that changes the rational man into irrational.

One begins by accepting a fashion trend and ends up adopting customs which bring about a mistaken situation between reality –the natural law– and the contagion of the environment.

If on the basis of concessions we lose our sensitivity, we run the risk of converting the body into pure perimeter, because we have taken away from it modesty, which is not learned but springs forth with naturalness; the immodest is what requires explanation: going to the academy in order to learn abhorrence of what is natural.  Immodesty is born from oneself and not from historical, social or cultural conditioning, and launches out into uncomfortable love on the basis of disenchanted sex.  In this latter case, the body becomes a map without secrets: it is pure perimeter.

But the body is much more than that: it is the vessel that envelops the jewel –the soul– and it ought to reflect the immense dignity of the human being.

Present-day civilization cultivates our desires but ignores teaching us the good use of the true goods that we desire.  It presents everything that satisfies our basest appetites; everything: what is necessary and what is superfluous; what is useful and what is harmful; the best and the worst…  And it abandons the responsibility for choice… We have to know how to unite exterior abundance that is presented to us, with interior discipline.

Fashion has the privilege of emphasizing always the fullness of the person, not only of the body –as we have said repeatedly.  This goal, which is so noble and of the highest dimension, can be its great originality, and its geniality, its effort and the way to express its art.  We are talking here about giving the right place to the proper beauty of the woman –integral– within the precise measure which she deserves.  This is what gives the best quality to a model.

The woman has to appear feminine.  “It is not enough to say person –comments Julián Marías–, persons merely, for they don’t exist.  Neither are women simply persons without further ado, nor are men: this would be an abstraction.  The person is realized in the form of man or of woman”.

The woman –responsible and free human being– cannot do just anything: she ought to choose.  One of the most unpleasant things that can be said of the woman is: “she’s just one of those”.  Thus, she cannot do just anything, because she’ll turn out “just one of those”.

If she forgets her feminine condition –Julián Marías continues commenting–, she not only masculinizes herself but also loses her personal condition, which is realized in the woman.  On not knowing how to be a woman, she is unable to know any other thing, because she is not any other thing and she becomes insipid.  In exchange for what?  We cannot give her the condition proper to a plate of lentils.

Many present-day human beings, at times, look opaque: they have lost their capacity to know themselves; they even speak of seeking their own “identity”.  How appalling!  They seem to be incapable in the face of greatness and they think: Ideal, but unachievable…

It is like a “concerted” –a very modern term– renunciation, towards what is optimal.  Their orientation is fed by what is said on television, by the newspapers they buy, by radio… media in which they move about because this distracts them, but does not form them –it habitually deforms them– and turns them into superficial and indifferent persons, with a huge moral emptiness.

The great strides taken in technology, research, rapid means of transport, etc. have brought about wonderful achievements.  But the other side of the coin leads to materialism: to valuing someone because he has more material means, or because he goes around in a car that costs many millions more.

And in order to fill up the vacuum, he takes the useful for what is good, not what makes him better; he recognizes reality but without having dominion over it, and persons become object of scientific experimentation.  We have forgotten the formation of beings –of great value leading to efficacy–; and the absorption of work –which is aimed at being able to spend more– leads to the annihilation of the person, who on having deserted spiritual values is metallized and has turned money into an end.

When this lifestyle has come into the picture, it becomes difficult to put a stop to the mechanism of frantic activity and of consumerism.  History is coherent –Julián Marías continues saying–; it is not falsehood, because the woman, for centuries, has established normalcy.

If one thinks of the mechanism of education, one sees that it is the woman who transmits systems of beliefs; she is the true and great transmitter of the substance of the form of life.  Ideas are transmitted through books; but the system of beliefs –which is much more important– is transmitted and communicated especially by the woman.  If ideas are not turned into beliefs, they remain a superficial phenomenon; their historical effects –even though they are impassioned– are highly reduced.  They act in history when they are turned into beliefs.

The woman either elevates or degrades the environment: she is not neutral.  If we have witnessed at some point a general degradation, we shall realize the importance which such act brings along with it.

We propose her elevation by presenting an external image of her which is well taken care of, which is correct, which facilitates making her human quality stand out.  A quality which, ever since the first error in Paradise, suffers a lamentable and degrading change; passions become independent –this constitutes the first autonomy, which gave rise to a fatal result– of the intelligence, and the body loses –this is how Antonio Orozco explains it to us– its until-then natural transparency which led it to reflect the dominion by the spirit over instinct, a thing that radically differentiated man from animals.  The glance that this new image of the human being gathers has likewise ceased being crystal-clear: it has come to acquire a certain myopia and dress has come to be a necessary complement, of a body that has lost its natural transparency and its naturalness.

This leads us to understand how moral crises have always been reflected in fashion, a specific weapon that the woman has in her hand and which she can utilize for the purification –or for the moral contamination– of the environment.

The eroticization of fashion is one of the symptoms of the loss of a sensibility that sickens, that reflects itself in the sexual dimension, and this reaches many human dimensions: playing with a public that is a consumer of novelties –as was found by Paul of Tarsus in Athens.

The consequences of this loss of sensitivity which we discover, as in a mirror, in the external image of her who has allowed herself to be led by that absurd environment, are quickly reflected in the family as an institution –transcendent by natural law– broken in a much more generalized way, when it finds itself fed up with “use”, on realizing that physical gifts are given in order to attract and retain man.

One discovers a great fraud, a lack of totality of values: intelligence, sacrifice, self-giving… and one is unable to withstand it, on feeling oneself defrauded.  None of us would admit half of a gem acquired for all its value.

Ortega y Gasset affirms with his word what Fashion can realize: “Although modesty induces us to cover the body, since the body exhales what is corporeal, expresses what is intimate, it is the soul that it wishes to cover.  It acts like a vessel.  It helps in keeping order in the interior of the human being.  And on this interior order depends, to a large extent, the order in the relationships with others, which is a faithful reflection of the meaning which the others have inside of us.”

Neither are we unaware of the fact that, along with other means of better quality, the external image can be converted into an instrument for keeping always alive the love for one’s spouse.  Popular knowledge –with its humor and vividness– confirms this thesis: “La mujer compuesta quita al hombre de otra puerta” (“The well-groomed woman keeps out the man next door.”)  It can, moreover, improve the taste of those who surround her and thus provide them encouragement, with her presence, in the work she occupies.  And even the external wear-and-tear (produced inexorably by the passage of the years) she knows how to disimulate with aplomb, with serenity, with her personality which is alive although in many cases squeezed out.  She maintains that image of a person whose head never tires of learning and whose heart continually loves with the same strength, because each day she has known how to keep alive that fire, nourishing it with little things that she discovers during the workday.

Herein also lies the pragmatic vision that surrounds us: everything, even beliefs, is considered true for as long as it has metallic value.  It seems that everything changes with money, even love!

Eroticism is everywhere, soiling everything it encounters, with names that hide its true face: art, naturalness, freedom, fulfillment.  They attempt, just like in the Rome of the Caesars, to make paganism invade our customs.  But then, a handful of valiant men and women saved that rotten world, without allowing themselves to be led by that easy-going and mediocre environment, since in order to follow those highways it wasn’t necessary to ride on carriages: it was enough to allow oneself to get carried away.  Using the means that those courageous men and women utilized, we have to learn how to avoid moral insensitivity.

They intend to deceive the woman, and they present to her the “challenge” of getting “liberated” —as was offered to Eve— and the alternative was to do away with motherhood and with clothing.  “They have silenced —says Lejeune, Professor at the Sorbonne— the fact that being able to educate men is most important of all and more valuable than producing any product in any business, notwithstanding the currents of thought that are in existence.”


  1. We have been influenced by an environment of putting greater value to “having” or “possessing” instead of “being” / “being better”.  Hence, beauty (that transcendental property of being which puts together unity, truth & goodness) has come to be equated with the more external/ material aspects (“metallic”, as Encarnita puts it; money; glitter; or even: ugliness; grossness; grotesqueness)
  2. Most of this influence comes from the Mass Media: Television (and we watch hours of it!), the papers, radio, Internet, etc. – if we don’t control ourselves and put all these under control, the consequences are unimaginable.
  3. Pudor (combination of modesty, decency & carefulness/prudence) traces its roots to the Bible, to the Garden of Paradise: before original sin, Adam and Eve were naked, and they did not feel any shame.  But the biblical text points out that, after sinning, they realized their nakedness and they covered themselves. “The Pope points out that it is not about a simple passage from non-realization of the physical aspect, but about something more complex, since –as a consequence of disobedience, of separation from the Holy God– a radical change has occurred in the meaning of that original nakedness.  Why this change in meaning?  The body expresses the person, the human I, and, manifesting it, makes itself an intermediary; better yet, the body makes possible the communication between man and woman, according to that specific communion wanted by God, which is marriage.  Physical nakedness is, thus, authentic and true expression of the person if it is ordered towards that communication, and it loses all its sense to the extent that it excludes that communication, makes it difficult or veers away from its scope.  After the first fall, when man’s gaze became clouded or vile, with the change of the attitude of the heart which seeks –or can seek– to possess and dominate instead of giving itself, careful modesty (pudor) and reserve now become absolutely necessary.  The manifestation of one’s own body, or of other people’s bodies, when it is undue –in certain situations it is not only legitimate but obligatory–, implies ignorance of the dignity of the human being and, therefore, in a certain way, the possibility of getting corrupted and of corrupting others.  Pudor before other people and the respect for pudor in the others proclaims and defends the awareness of the value of one’s own “I”, of the person, who should never be reduced to mere object.” .  (The Father, Chap. 11 “Value and Meaning of Corporeality”, in his book “Itinerarios de Vida Cristiana”)
  4. These realities –affectivity, feelings, passions– are natively good, because they correspond to what we are and, in the last analysis, to the creative designs of God.  But original sin has somehow affected everything.  In the Christian understanding of things, these 2 aspects come together: the affirmation of the primeval goodness and the recognition of a wound that does not destroy native goodness, but only diminishes it and, consequently, makes difficult the exercise of the good.  Hence, the need, at all levels, for effort and struggle.  In the first place, the fight against our greatest enemies: pride, vanity, ambition, self-sufficiency… Likewise, as is logical, in those aspects more directly connected to corporeality.  (The Father, Chap. 11 “Value and Meaning of Corporeality”, in his book “Itinerarios de Vida Cristiana”)
  5. Fashion has the privilege of emphasizing always the fullness of the person, not only of the body.  This goal, which is so noble and of the highest dimension, can be its great originality, and its geniality, its effort and the way to express its art.  We are talking here about giving the right place to the proper beauty of the woman –integral– within the precise measure which she deserves.  This is what gives the best quality to a model.

🙂  🙂  🙂

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