Emanuele Coccia: what is fashion

Emanuele Coccia

Emanuele Coccia (1976) is a philosopher and professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. His research focuses on nature, art and fashion.

Emanuele Coccia
Emanuele Coccia
Emanuele Coccia


Emanuele Coccia received a PhD in Medieval Philosophy with honours from the University of Florence. His recent publications include “Filosofia della Casa”, “Métamorphoses”, “La vita delle piante. Una metafisica della mescolanza”, which have been translated in ten languages. In 2019 he curated the exhibition “Nous les Arbres” at Fondation Cartier in Paris.

Emanuele Coccia has been Member of the Advisory Board of the 23rd Triennale for Design and Architecture at the Triennale di Milano (2020-2022). He has an extensive experience as lecturer for some of the most important cultural institution internationally.


In the Disrupting Patterns Talks series that Emanuele Coccia gave at Domus Academy, titled “Fashion or the Unsustainable Lightness of Art”, he reflected on the meaning and the role of fashion.

“Fashion is an art, the most interesting discipline in the contemporary world. It changed the very idea of art and there is no way back. Fashion has radically changed the identity of people. It has become the instrument and the laboratory of morality in the Western societies”.

Art is radically defined by fashion. Coccia underlines how Fashion is the art of free production of symbols of the self. Those symbols have to define the self as an infra-social and infra-gender difference.

“Fashion is an art that allows us to artificialise our identity and forces us to relate to our identity as an artefact”.

The various artistic disciplines become exercises in life-design, but not in opposition to industry and modernisation, but through it. This is something close to the Italian way of conceiving design, always trying to exercise different artistic disciplines.

He takes as an example the figure and the work of Alessandro Michele, the Italian fashion designer and creative director, focusing on the collections he has signed for Gucci (from 2015 to 2022). They are currently working together on an essay about the philosophy of Fashion, entitled “Fashion as Philosophy :: making philosophy with fabrics :: making clothes with concepts.”, due to be published in 2023 by HarperCollins.

Starting from the life of Alessandro Michele and the innovations that his work has brought to contemporary sensibility, the creative director together with Coccia shows how two forms of creativity and human knowledge, philosophy and fashion, traditionally separate, in reality are inextricably tied up.


Watch the full video and revive the talk with Emanuele Coccia!


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