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Every communication text has certain functions that indicate the very purpose of communication.

A fashion garment is a text too. Semiotically speaking, it is a “series of consistent and orderly statements between two marked interruptions in communication”.

In other words, it is a macrosign formed of a series of interrelated signs structured around a code (the fashion code). A text comes to life as soon as the receiver starts to look at it and ends when the receiver looks away.

A communication flow is created between the addresser (who presents the garment) and the addressee.

Signs are bifacial entities formed of signified and signifier, that is, by an idea and by its manifestation.

If I wish to express elegance, I would wear Armani, the icon of elegance. If, instead, I wish to express eccentricity and transgression, I would opt for Dolce e Gabbana, the icon (hence the sign) of these features.

Roman Jakobson defined six communication functions:
  1. referential
  2. emotive
  3. phatic
  4. conative
  5. metalinguistic
  6. aesthetic
- referential, a descriptive statement of reality; it is the fashion garment considered as a vestment composed of fabric, cut, accessories, etc.;

- emotional, it must spark an emotion in the addressee; it is the instigated desire of possessing a certain trendy object or the pleasure of wearing it, or envy of its wearer;

- phatic, it seeks to maintain interaction with the addressee. Eccentric wear is presented to encourage the buyer to stand out;

- conative, (or imperative) it induces the addressee to behave in a certain way. The fashion garment instigates purchase as a form of emulation, in order to “be one step ahead” or to stay abreast of the times;

- metalinguistic, language spoken through another language. Fashion has its own language, whose signs are the accessories and clothes organized in a particular “fashion” code;

- aesthetic, wishes to accomplish the object of beauty, poetry and art.

One of the defining goals of Fashion is to deal with artistic creations... how more aesthetic can you get...

In fashion advertising, the more common functions are phatic, emotional and referential (regarding in particular outfits, cassocks, wedding dresses, Holy Communion clothing and theatrical costumes).

However, functions may sometimes be mere travesty.

If an advertising campaign presents a man wearing a nun’s robe, the function of the robe is not referential, it’s either emotional (its purpose is to shock or amuse) or metalinguistic (if he wishes to manifest his unlikely desire of being a consecrated woman).

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