restricted access "In Praise of the Present": Adolf Loos on Style and Fashion

This article examines the discourse on beauty, style, and fashion developed by Viennese architect and essayist Adolf Loos between the 1890s and the 1920s. Contrary to conventional understanding, it argues that Loos's critique of contemporary architectural and fashion styles should not be read as contributing to the discourse of lost authenticity and estranged identity, which is identified with Viennese modernism. Instead, this essay draws on Loos's passionate endorsement of contemporary fashion in order to reconstruct his optimistic vision of modernity, which he saw peopled by individuals whose identity is inscribed on a discursive surface and lacks the depth of metaphysical substance.