Paris Fashion: A Cultural History / Edition 1

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Paris has been the international capital of style for three hundred years. Although challenged by other fashion cities such as Milan, London, and New York, Paris still holds a special allure. This fascinating book shows that the strength of the French fashion industry rests on the depth and sophistication of its fashion culture. Revised and updated, Paris Fashion is available here in paperback for the first time. More than just a history of famous designers and changing styles, the book is about fashion as a cultural ideal and a social phenomenon. By focusing on a case study of Paris, Steele provides brilliant insights into the significance of fashion in modern urban society.

In this provocative and richly illustrated volume Valerie Steele offers a penetrating social and cultural analysis of fashion in Paris.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an original, gracefully written study of Paris fashion, one that manages to say as much about national character, in a sense, as it does about the rise and fall of hemlines. . . . I would not only recommend it to anyone interested in the psychology of clothes, but to anyone planning a sejour in France – as much required reading, say, as the Green Guides of Michelin." —Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[Steele's] book offers many insights and pleasures, including some excellent quotations." —The New York Times

"An impressive compendium of information." —The New York Times Book Review

"Anne Hollander, Valerie Steele, and Bill Cunningham are members of a small band of American critics and scholars now writing and talking about fashion with knowledge of the business, the craft and the art. They know its history and its meaning . . . . Above all they respect their profession and grant it due importance." —Dress: Jourbanal of the Costume Society of America

"A mine of novel information and fascinating illustrations, Valerie Steele’s book is good to look at and good to read." —Eugen Weber

"An innovative renewal of a subject all too often explored ploddingly. Ms. Steele enhances brilliantly the eternal appeal of French couture." —Palmer White, author of Schiaparelli

"Once I started reading, I could not stop! Valerie Steele’s book is wonderfully witty, pleasurable to read and so well documented. It is one of the best complete studies on Paris fashion that I have ever come across." —Jean-Michel Tuchscherer, Former Curator, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

"Steele's book is a richly textured analysis of sources - artistic, economic, literary, social, and it is a perfect book to recommend to students and many others beside." —Costume

Library Journal
Steele aims to underscore the importance of style and dress in modern society and concurrently to reveal why Paris has long been designated the center of world fashion, yet she claims, ``This is not a history of Paris fashion, still less of haute couture .'' The book is indeed both, with no disclaimer necessary. The title is perfectly apt, for Steele draws from the literature, politics, and art of the 14th to the 20th centuries; she is as fascinated by the treatment of ``sartorial'' distinctions in Proust and Baudelaire as she is by fashion images in 19th-century French painting. Ultimately, her strongest chapters deal with this century, but her research throughout is broad-ranging and her notes and bibliography extremely useful. Sally R. Sims, Univ. of Maryland, Coll. Park, Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859739730
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 12/1/1998
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,026,042
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Valerie Steele received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University, and teaches in the division of graduate studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY).

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