The term Camouflage embodies deeper philosophical meanings speaking to an intentional denial of truth.

By Balthazar Malevolent


Fashion designer Claude Sabbah's statement implies that camouflage, both as a concept and a pattern, is omnipotent and omnipresent. How could a simple textile pattern ever be compared with God? If Sabbah's opinion is correct, how did camouflage achieve such power?

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The camouflage textile pattern itself is just one aspect of camouflage theory, albeit the most visible. The pattern, with its original intention of concealing the human form during war, directly relates to the concept of camouflage theory as practiced in otherways, such as concealing undesirable parts of the body or distorting visual reality. The term Camouflage embodies deeper philosophical meanings speaking to an intentional denial of truth. Indeed, fashionable camouflage springs out of this theoretical realm of intentional deception - trickery meant for survival through the shifting of reality. Fashion permits, and even encourages, the assumption of new identities through the act of wearing clothes, mirroring the rebirth through deception that camouflage enables.

How did the textile pattern known as camouflage come to be imprinted on the public consciousness with such a variety of co-existing meanings? The focus is mainly on the American, and by a certain extension, European experience of fashionable camouflage for two reasons: first, the trend for wearing fashionable camouflage began in the United States, and second, the pattern most associated with fashionable camouflage is actually an American military camouflage creation.

There are several important thematic connections to camouflage that need to be investigated. Foremost, camouflage cannot be discussed without acknowledging its direct link to art. Indeed, the pattern called camouflage is at its essence an artistic rendering of the natural world. Initially, artists created defensive camouflage schematics during both World Wars, and afterwards they were the first to use the pattern in subversive ways. Art served as camouflage’s primary node of transference between the military and civilian realms. Other disparate forces connected to the development of camouflage as a fashion classic include music, marketing, anti-fashion, political activism and feminism.

Designers often apply camouflage prints to their models. Within his last season, Alexander Wang presented several variations of camo sweatpants, camouflage back panel t-shirts, and camo canvas totes.

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