Viceland’s ‘States of Undress’ series has been one of the most curious documentaries that I have come across in recent times. Normally favouring pieces on nature or explorations of the cosmos, I was surprised to be so drawn into a piece that initially looked like brief vignettes from runways around the world. While the series links the 6 episodes with the fashion shows from the featured countries, this project is also intent on exploring a more rounded cross-section of the local culture and customs through the lens of couture.
Front woman, Hailey Gates, approaches runway shows, street fashion, artisans, government institutions and even religious zealots in her endeavour to uncover the cultural shifts and political rifts that play out on the runways of non-western fashion scenes. What is similarly enlightening is the introduction of incredibly different notions of beauty throughout each cultural body and by encountering these ideas I have begun to consider the basis of our (western) measures of desirability with a more critical eye.
States of Undress is available to view on SBS on demand.