States of Undress was one of the most interesting documentaries that I have ever had to watch for a class. This documentary really opened up my mind to the country of Pakistan’s culture and the way that fashion is treated there. Seeing how much different fashion is in Pakistan than from the US made me think on a deeper level about the reasons why this is so.
One connection that I saw in this documentary to what we talk about in class was with Simmel. Kimmel talks about the idea of differentiation and not always fitting in with others. This could be seen when those young designers went against their culture and religion and presented their bondage fashion line. This was much different than the norm and really got people talking. They really wanted to make a statement with line this and stand out from everyone else. They were going against tradition. Another connection that I made was the West and the Rest idea discussed by Niessen. There was talk throughout the documentary of how western fashions can influence those in Pakistan, but that is not always the case as their treasure their own culture. This was also seen with the discussion of the Pakistan-made jeans. As I mention later, the Pakistan jeans are shipped to the US and then sent back after they have been used for the people of Pakistan to wear. It’s as if they’re saying that these people are not good enough to wear their own creations without us wearing them first. It’s such a horrible mentality, and that was a confusing part in the film. The third connection that I made was with Geertz and his idea of the “world as lived” and also “idealized”. Their is a constant theme through this documentary as the struggle between dress, culture and religion and the conflicts that those things bring. They can dress and live one way, but what others want them to do can be something completely different. In this culture, the way that they dress is extremely important to them. It symbolizes much more. It showcases their personality, culture and religion at times. There is a struggle of balance between Geertz’s ideas of the “world as lived” and also “idealized”.
Within this documentary there were many new and interesting things that were brought to my attention. One of those things was the fact that Pakistan has a fashion week. I honestly had no idea that this country had their own fashion week. Usually we hear about places like Paris and Milan, but never Pakistan. Watching the clips of their fashion week, I was mesmerized by the designs being sent down the runway. There was so much variety and attention to detail, it was very impressive. Another interesting thing from this documentary was honestly how alcohol is banned in Pakistan and against the law to consume. I know that this doesn’t have anything to do with fashion, but it does have something to do with their culture. I remember how on edge the woman hosting the documentary was about asking for a drink. She was also so interested by the fact that there was no alcohol at the fashion week. It’s just an interesting tid bit that has more affect than one might think. The third interesting fact from this documentary was the fact that denim from Pakistan is of very high quality and something that they’re known for. I had never heard of Pakistan being looked to for quality denim and I wonder why this is so. I wonder what makes their denim so much better than other countries.
Although there were new and interesting things I learned in this documentary. There were also things that I found difficult. One thing that I found hard to understand was how Pakistan has to wait for denim to be shipped out and used in the US before it comes back to them for their own use. This really does not make any sense to me. The denim is made their, why do they not have access to it until after it is used? It seems highly unfair to me. Another thing that I found difficult to understand was the significance of the man who had been banned from the mosque and was a religious teacher showing the host of the documentary that Planet Earth remix film. He was explaining how he believes that Alla created all of these creatures and things of a religious nature, but I was confused by the significance of it all. The third thing that I found difficult to understand was when they were talking about how Islamic men feel that women should be treated like princesses, but they actually have little freedom in a lot of their personal choices. They think they should be treated like royalty, but seem to have little freedom in expressing themselves and fulfilling their own happiness. This ideal really confused me.
There were many interesting and difficult points that were brought to my attention while watching this documentary, but three stuck out as main ones. One main point was the fact that Pakistan has fashion. This is something that a lot of the people involved with fashion week were really trying to get across throughout the documentary. Pakistan has fashion and they can be influential. They really want the people of the world to know that they are here, they have fashion and it is something they are passionate about. Another main point was that one can be fashionable, while still respecting their religion. There were some designers that made fashionable clothing and showed their collections at fashion week, but their designs went along with their religious views. There were also some that did not. The third main point that I got out of this documentary seems to be the most important: Pakistan is more than we think that it is. People in the film described how outsiders see Pakistan as this highly dangerous place with any terrorists, but there is so much more that needs to be shown. They have fashion, culture, religion and passion. There are so many more aspects to this country that show how beautiful and talented the people there are. There really needs to be more focus on those types of things.
I think that it would be quite easy to explain this documentary to someone who hasn’t taken TMD 424 yet, especially if they have taken culture, dress and appearance. I would tell them about the fashion week in Pakistan and how there seems to be a controversy over tradition and religion vs freedom to be contemporary. I would also include facts that I learned about the Islam religion and what is deemed “appropriate”. I think that they would have a hard time understanding the situation where a woman is burned with acid if her fashion choices do not line up with her families beliefs, as that is even hard for me to understand. I would encourage many people to watch this documentary as it shows the true Pakistan and gives us a deeper understanding of their culture and country.