Posts Tagged ‘Philippe Perrot’

Top five: Fashion History

9 July 2010

Contributed by Niamh Cullen

‘Nothing happened, except that we all dressed up’. So John Lennon ironically dismissed the social and cultural revolution that was 1960s London, in a 1970 interview for Rolling Stone magazine. If the ‘swinging sixties’ in London can be encapsulated by the image of the miniskirt, it doesn’t mean that the cultural revolution that took place during than decade was a superficial one, but that clothes came, in a very real way, to embody the changes that were taking place in identity, gender relations, youth culture, consumer culture and much more. Until recent years, fashion or dress history was mostly seen as a branch of art history, with the focus being primarily on the aesthetic qualities of clothing – usually the sumptuous dress of royalty and the upper classes. It is only in the last couple of decades that it has begun to be seen as an integral part of social and cultural history, with studies examining what ordinary people wore, and what their clothes said about their lives and the society they lived in, rather than just looking at courtly dress, or the fashion industry. Here are Niamh’s top five books for Fashion history:
1 . Gilles Lipovetsky, The Empire of Fashion: Dressing Modern Democracy

A French philosophy professor, Lipovetsky is regarded in some ways as the heir to Roland Barthes. Both are postmodernists and have written about fashion, but the similarities stop there. Lipovetsky has inherited none of Barthes’ disdain for the so-called superficiality of the fashion industry. Instead, he recognises the value of fashion as a way of expressing individual identity in modern, democratic society and, with this premise in mind, traces the development of the fashion industry in France from the eighteenth to twentieth century. Read more