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The Empire of Fashion:
Dressing Modern Democracy
Gilles Lipovetsky
Translated by Catherine Porter
With a foreword by Richard Sennett

Book Description | Table of Contents


"Defining it to include not just clothing styles but also sex roles, political rhetoric, and other forms of expression, [Lipovetsky] argues that fashion promotes innovation over tradition and individuality over conformity. . . . Lipovetsky aims not to convince, but merely to sway. . . . his ideas are seductive in their audacity."--Etelka Lehoczky, The Boston Phoenix Literary Section

"By its nature, fashion is unstable, ephemeral and superficial: exactly the features of social relations in today's democratic polities. No need for concern, according to [Gilles] Lipovetsky. The less we feel or care about each other, the better we will get along. . . . An impersonal social structure is an ideal setting for mutual tolerance and the reduction of conflict. . . . A brilliantly original argument becomes dazzling when the principles of fashion--obsolescence, seduction, diversification--are extended to analyse a consumer society in which novelty is paramount, and identity shattered into fragments. Far from homogenising us, as many early writers suspected, mass culture has accelerated the process of individualization. And that can heighten the capacity for social integration."--New Statesman & Society

"Lipovetsky has written an eclectic book that moves easily from discussing Tocqueville or Kant to analyzing the impact of the length of ladies' hemlines on our political culture."--Adam Wolfson, The Public Interest

"Surveying 2,000 years of global history, [Gilles] Lipovetsky claims that fashion provides the means for stability in modern Western capitalist democracies. . . . Attempts to understand the relationships between consumer-driven desires and natural desires in modern, mass-culture democracies lead Lipovetsky to provocative conclusions. . . . [this work] offers refreshing insights into today's social structure."--Choice

"Lipovetsky argues that with the haute couture in decline, with multiculturalism and dissolving social classes, we are increasingly prompted to acquire things for our private uses, without reference to other people. We buy a VCR not to impress, since everybody has one, but to watch movies."--Diane Johnson, New York Review of Books

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File created: 4/21/2017

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