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High fashion has continued to toy with the etiolated, androgynous forms of heroin chic. When Calvin Klein employed the style in his advertising in 1995, the FBI began an investigation into his company, seeing not only potential drug abuse but also references to child pornography in the thin bodies of his very young models and tatty motel settings. Perhaps this is where the image is at its most controversial, when it is harnessed to blatant commercialism, used by designers to add a contemporary feel to sell their product. It is here that it gains greatest circulation too, when it leaves the indulgent confines of the fashion world. It is when magazines like Vogue - which stands for the older generation’s more traditional morality - use the style that there is greatest outcry. The youth magazines that hot-housed heroin chic represent the negotiation of new compromises in morality, where ideas of deviance become fluid as new identities are continually experimented with, pushing at boundaries of acceptability in representation and attempting to create an aesthetic that is truer to young people’s experiences.

These negotiations were already in full swing in the 1960s, when drug use became the norm within youth and popular culture. Images by photographers Bob Richardson projected a similar feel to those of Corinne Day, providing snapshots or stories of young people’s lives, an intensification of their experiences. Christopher Booker felt that fashion itself expressed an ‘exhibitionistic violence’ during the 1960s, assaulting the on-looker with its harsh styles and the careless attitudes it reflected. He wrote of a culture that had become disinterested and cold saying that the ‘hard uniforms were curiously impersonal, like the expressionless stare that so often went with them or the throwaway generic terms - “birds” or “dollies” - that were used to describe their wearers’. His fears of a society that is brutalized and oblivious to the import of its words and actions, may undercut the usual image of the 1960s as a period of carefree fun, but his sentiments have been repeated in the criticism of contemporary fashion.

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Rebecca Arnold, “Fashion Desire and Anxiety: Image and Morality in the 20th Century, pg. 54

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