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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Unlikely Sources of Inspiration: Jeremy Bentham's Auto-Icon as... Fashion Icon

Jeremy Benthan inspiration

One of my favorite philosophers is Jeremy Bentham, a man who was both eminently sensible (his interest in social reform was sparked as a young boy when he observed the inequality between women and men) and very, very kooky. He stipulated in his will that after he died, he wanted his body preserved, dressed and left as an "auto-icon." It now hangs out in the University College of London, occasionally attending meetings as "present, not voting."


As I stared at this photo of Bentham's auto-icon, I found myself thinking: "Wow, his outfit is both practical and attractive! Just perfect for a late 18th century to early 19th century utilitarianist!" Thus inspired, I made a collage of items I think Bentham would have approved of. Everything is in simple neutral hues, in silhouette that are both basic but have just enough details to make them special, like the cutaway hem on the cardigan, the studs on the black brogues and the little bows on the gloves (though Bentham's gloves are apparently there because his auto-icon's preservation didn't go that well).

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