Couture Culture: A Study in Modern Art and Fashion / Edition 1

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Overview

In Couture Culture, Nancy Troy offers a new model of how art and fashion were linked in the early twentieth century. Focusing on a leader of the French fashion industry, Paul Poiret, Troy uncovers a logic of fashion based on the tension between originality and reproduction that bears directly on art historical issues of the period. This tension lies at the heart of haute couture, which, although designed for the wealthy, was also intended to be adapted for sale in department stores and other clothing outlets that catered to a broader consumer market. Troy examines the relationships between elite and popular culture, the professional theater and the fashion show, as well as the presumed polarity between Orientalist and classical sensibilities. She shows how Poiret and other designers patronized the arts and presented themselves as artists not only to sell their individual dresses to wealthy clients but also to promote the mass production of their designs. The contradictions she uncovers suggest surprising parallels with the readymades and fashion-related work of Marcel Duchamp, who explored the questions of originality and authenticity raised by couture culture during the 1910s and 1920s.

In contrast to dominant accounts of early twentieth-century art that have dismissed fashion as superficial, fleeting, and feminized, Troy's more nuanced approach reveals conceptual structures and marketing strategies shared by modern art and fashion in these years.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Troy (chair, art history, Univ. of Southern California) here offers the first thoroughgoing examination of the relationship between modern art and high fashion. The book locates the origins of contemporary haute couture in early 19th-century France, opening with the observation that what we now recognize as the international fashion industry evolved from work done by artisans in Parisian tailor shops. She traces the careers of a few savvy figures from Paris, who made the business decisions and original designs that helped to catapult the simple dressmaking trade into an art form. Particularly intriguing is the role couturiers played as art patrons and the way in which they utilized their artistic connections to amass wealth and build their house's cachet. Troy also considers the notion and import of authenticity in a trade demanding multiple copies of "original" designs-an industrial-era irony similarly confronting modern artists. With a wealth of period photographs, trade material, and serials, Troy's book documents the strong affinities between art and fashion and provides keen insight into the lives and social practices of the French upper classes. Recommended for all art, cultural studies, and social history collections.-Savannah Schroll, Smithsonian Institution Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262701037
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 450
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy J. Troy is Chair of the Art History Department at the University of Southern California.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 2
1 Fashion, Art, and the Marketing of Modernism 18
2 Theater and the Spectacle of Fashion 80
3 Fashioning Commodity Culture 192
4 The Readymade and the Genuine Reproduction 266
Conclusion 327
Notes 338
Sources Consulted 386
List of Illustrations 415
Index 429
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